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Motueka 2030: Project History and Background

The founding document

This initiative - to find out and act on what our community wants and needs - started out with a discussion paper that one of our team, Chris Salt, wrote and presented to the Motueka Community Board.

Although some of the details such as funding methods are evolving, and examples cited are only suggestions, the principle of "participatory democracy" - that if the community wants something enough then they have to agree to it and do something about it themselves - is the core of this programme.

Download and read Chris's discussion paper here.

The seeds were sown when Vision Motueka first formed in 2012. Our founding documents (vision, mission and objectives) were based on doing things that the community wanted and that fulfilled a long-term vision. The trouble was that as a small, inexperienced group we had little idea of how to gauge what the community wanted. So we just let seed ideas arrive and scattered them, and those ideas that germinated turned into projects.

The Strategy Group

Into 2013, the first half dozen or so Vision projects were built and consolidated. Meanwhile a few of the founding members remained equally interested in the longer-term strategic mission (not just immediate projects). Some people prefer action, other prefer examining longer term trends and planning alternative strategic scenarios. Those interested in strategy matters formed an informal "think tank" that met about six times in 2014 with numbers taking part varying from three to a dozen.

The "Strategy Group", as they were called, had many interesting (and often rambling) discussions and dissected a few discussion papers, around deep issues like future of food, sea level rise, the impact of tourism and other potentially beneficial and risky development strategies. However, until the end of 2013 the group was not really going anywhere that was fruitful.

That's when one of the group, Chris Salt, wrote a paper that was to become the philosophical foundation for Motueka 2030. He wrote it over the end-of-year holidays, discussed a first draft with David Armstrong, then together they refined it early in 2014.

Chris Salt's Community Action strategy

As well as making the emphatic statement that communities like Motueka must step up if they want improvements that Council would not or could not provide, it also introduced the notion of "participatory democracy", a matter dear to Chris's heart. This is based on communities conducting referenda on key matters in order to give their leaders the moral authority to gather ratepayer money to be spent on projects that were approved by referenda.

Chris presented his paper to a public meeting on March 6th, attended by about 20 people including one district councillor and two community board members (news report here). The response was positive and Chris and David were encouraged to seek the support of the Motueka Community Board to carry the idea further, to District Council level.

This happened in May using a further refined document, which can be downloaded here, and which is now the foundation document for the principles of the project (although details may differ). The community board liked and supported the principles of the concept, although there were mixed reactions to the proposition that some funds could be raised through a targeted rate. They endorsed the plan and the goal of Vision Motueka setting up an appropriate "developmental trust" to pursue the work.

Refining and confirming the strategy

The first step toward implementing the strategy was to decide what group was capable of driving it. An independent steering group met over the winter of 2014 and decided that rather than creating yet another community group, a new version of Vision Motueka was best suited to do the job.

It was given a new name: Vision Motueka Development Trust, and its board of trustees was to include representatives of Council, the community board, Our Town Motueka, Keep Motueka Beautiful and iwi. The idea was that this would emphasise that the results of the strategy development would result largely in project partnerships rather than unilateral actions and projects run by the Vision group.

Vision was thus modified via trust deed in October, and the new board began planning work for Motueka 2030 in November. Meanwhile one other activity both aided this initiative and simultaneously threw it into a temporary hiatus. David Armstrong and David Ogilvie organised the Motueka Economic Summit in August.

Although the summit event was meant at the time to be independent of the core Vision Motueka activity - just a parallel conversation starter among the business sector - its sheer success (in getting the town talking and attracting support) prompted urgings by sections of the community (and some within the Vision board itself) that the outcomes should immediately seed the community-wide consultation process that is the core of Chris's proposition.

For a couple of months a robust debate occurred between those who wanted to get on with (largely leaderless) project development based on discussions arising from the summit event, and those who wanted a more considered, patient and planned development. In the end the Vision board chose the latter path.

It was decided that a project team reporting to the board would first take a few months to determine what information it wanted to find out from the community, what channels and conversation formats would be used to gain that information, and how the results (whatever they were to be) would be put together and used in project decision making.

In mid-January three of the Motueka 2030 team (Chris Salt, David Armstrong and Linda Glew) met with TDC's Mayor, CEO and Community Development Department manager. We outlined the history of Motueka 2030 and our plans for the next two years, and were heartened by:

  • their positive response to the idea of a partnership between Council and the Motueka community, through Vision Motueka; and
  • their relaxed view about the possibility of more targeted rating, provided that there was clear evidence that the community wanted the outcomes that such extra rating would fund.

The Motueka 2030 programme

By the end of January the project team had formulated a plan, which was approved by the full board. Thanks to a grant of $7,000 from Canterbury Community Trust, a part-time project coordinator was contracted to execute the plan, which was as follows:

  1. March: Activity planning; conduct one-on-one interviews with a range of community leaders and residents (47 took part).
  2. April: Complete activity planning; complete the March interviews and publish their results; use results to refine the community-wide questionnaire; introduce and publicise the concepts and programme in print and online media; commence online conversations via a Facebook group.
  3. May: Multiple public activities to gain widespread, informed community input. The major activities to include a range of public events around key future issues (youth, economic development, Maori engagement, future concepts), discussions on Facebook, and a questionnaire.
  4. June/July: Gather, collate, analyse and publish (hard copy and online) all results.

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