A truly inclusive community which respects and celebrates diversity is among Brodie Johnstone’s aspirations for Katikati, and he believes the town is well on the way to achieving those goals.
“I feel really lucky to work with the Katikati community and the diverse group of people involved in Katikati Taiao,” says Brodie who is the Department of Internal Affairs lead advisor for the Community-led Development project, co-ordinated by Katikati Taiao.
The aim is to help the entire Katikati community develop a long-term vision of where it sees itself in 20 to 30 years and then work towards achieving those goals. It is Brodie’s role, on behalf of the DIA, to walk alongside the community during this partnership.
Based in the department’s Manukau office, he is also an impartial voice and a conduit for information about the experiences of other communities involved in Community-led Development projects.
Currently DIA is partnering with 18 communities throughout the country in what is a relatively new approach to funding, following pilot projects in five diverse communities to test the concept.
Community-led Development projects had their beginnings in 2011 when Tariana Turia (now Dame Tariana), the then Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, signed the Kia Tūtahi Relationship accord with the then Prime Minister John Key.
The Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord is described as “an important symbol of commitment between the government and communities to engage effectively to achieve social, economic, cultural and environmental outcomes. It sets expectations about how government agencies and communities will work together”.
Brodie says in the past individual community groups have competed for a limited amount of funding, and some sectors missed out. Once funding ended, many projects fell away.
The aim now is to encourage a more co-operative approach with groups and individuals working together to make the best possible use of funding to benefit the entire community.
“The result is a more cohesive, resilient society and longer lasting outcomes, which includes supporting and growing local leadership across all sectors and age groups.
“When I first visited Katikati in my role about a year ago, I was surprised at the level of division, particularly between the town and the hapu, but also impressed at the willingness by hapu leaders to build bridges and look forward, despite the hurts of the last 150 years .”
The Hearts and Minds of Katikati research project led by Tessa Mackenzie for Katikati Taiao, to investigate the potential and possibilities for a reinvigorated community sense of identity and belonging, is key to helping shape the way forward, says Brodie, because it gave many sectors of the community a voice.