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A relational approach to community and social innovation: practices that make a difference

Frances Hancock, Ardra Associates
Auckland Council The Southern Initiative
Publication date:  

Focus: This report focuses on Auckland Council’s engagement with South Auckland communities through The Southern Initiative (TSI) and provides a grassroots view of its relational approach and practices.

The Southern Initiative (TSI): TSI is a place-based initiative that stimulates, enables and champions social and community innovation across the Local Board areas of Papakura, Manurewa, Ōtara-Papatoetoe, and Māngere-Ōtāhuhu. From Pukekohe to Māngere, TSI is working with and alongside community leaders (and their colleagues as well as staff from other parts of council, government agencies, funders, business owners and others) to support community-led aspirations. Through facilitation, brokering, networking, capacity-building, mentoring, design-led thinking and other forms of social innovation (such as galvanising the maker movement locally to foster learning by doing in a social space), TSI is supporting communities to achieve social, economic, cultural and environmental outcomes. These outcomes are produced at an individual, youth/rangatahi and family/whānau level, at an organisational level and at a community/iwi level. TSI is also contributing to practice and systems level change.

Purpose: The report will inform future practice within TSI, enabling staff to better understand the kinds of help and support valued by South Auckland communities. Also, it will inform Auckland Council’s Inclusive Auckland Framework and its Engage and Enable Communities priorities, increasing understanding of what good enabling of diverse communities looks like. Of particular interest, the report highlights innovative community-led responses to complex challenges. There may be valuable insights here that can also inform Auckland Council’s Māori Responsiveness Framework.

Research aims: In 2018 TSI commissioned research to identify the less visible and less tangible TSI ways of working that enable diverse communities across South Auckland to achieve their community-led goals and aspirations. TSI wanted to learn more about how its relational approach and practices have supported community leaders and changemakers to harness wide-ranging opportunities that help to progress their aspirations. TSI was also interested to learn about relational challenges, tensions and contradictions from community perspectives. ...

March 2019