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Improving the quality of community governance is a priority for the Centre for Social Impact. Since 2019, CSI has collaborated on research to identify issues and opportunities in community governance, and the development of a national strategy and action plan to build community governance capability and capacity. CSI now provides backbone support to the community steering group that is guiding the implementation of a national action plan for community governance.

Identifying community governance needs and opportunities

In 2019 CSI worked in partnership with the Superdiversity Institute for Law, Policy and Business to produce a report, What Is The Future For NGO Governance? The report, which drew on the experience of fifteen NGO governance experts, identified a need for considerable investment into New Zealand’s 114,000 (NGOs). Barriers to good governance identified in the report included the low value and low profile of NGO governance, the behaviour of individual board members, the complexity of the NGO context and poor processes around decision-making. 

CSI associate, Dr Jo Cribb, who carried out the research and wrote the report commented when the report was released in August 2019: “These NGOs touch the lives of New Zealanders in many ways. They provide services to the elderly, youth, and vulnerable families and whānau. They deliver much of what holds our communities together, such as sports, arts, environmental and cultural programmes. They employ around 100,000 people (nearly 5 percent of the workforce) and contribute nearly 3 percent to GDP. If the work of volunteers is included the contribution to GDP rises to 6 percent each year. It is in all our interests that they are well-governed.”

The report recommended the development of a national strategy for community governance.

A national strategy for community governance

In November 2019, CSI began collaborating with a group of organisations to lead the development of a national strategy to strengthen community governance.

The strategy was developed around six outcome areas to enhance community governance capability:

  • All community governance group members will have basic governance skills.
  • All community governance groups apply their basic skills.
  • Everyone values community governance.
  • There is a strong pipeline of diverse, talented community governors.
  • Best practice in community governance is shared and enhanced.
  • Effective Chairs are supported and have opportunities for development.
  • Working groups were established for each of the six outcome areas.

Co-design of the national action plan

Seven co-design sprints were held between March and June 2020. Six of the sprints focused on these outcome areas, and one focused on Māori governance. Around one hundred and fifty people contributed more than 1000 hours to the sprints to identify the actions that make up the National Action Plan for Community Governance. Click here to view the Sprinting for Good toolkit and a recording of the launch event is below.

Templates for Sprint Teams

NGO Governance - Co-design Sprint-PowerPoint presentation

NGO Governance-Co-design Sprint-TEMPLATES-Print version

NGO Governance-Co-design Sprint-TEMPLATES-Interactive version

Terms of Reference-TEMPLATE

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)-TEMPLATE

Implementing the national action plan

CSI provides backbone support to the steering group which is overseeing the implementation of the plan. The members of the steering group are: Francesca Ephraim, Gordon Oldfield, Karinia Lee, Kate Sclater, Kevin Haunui, Mele Wendt, Michelle Kitney, Nikolao Cockerell, Prabha Ravi, Rose Hiha-Agnew, Sonya Rimene, Toni Kerr.

The detailed design, planning, development and roll-out of the plan is managed by the Plan’s programme director, Rose Hiha-Agnew. Rose led the creation and development of Community Governance NZ incorporating the steering group, Te Ao Māori and the national action plan initiatives were housed under one whare/home.

Key initiatives in 2021 have included:

  • A mini co-design process with thirty experienced board chairs in January identified priority content for the action plan’s co-learning community for chairs. This content was captured in a toolkit of four videos to help those new to the Chair role and to give an insight into chairing for people who aspire to take on the position.
  • The development and implementation of a governance mentoring initiative with Mentoring Foundation NZ. This was piloted with Volunteer Kāpiti. The resulting national programme, which will provide mentoring support for up to 100 community governors, will start in February 2022.
  • The development in collaboration with the Institute of Directors of tuakana-teina chair mentoring programme. This will provide a one-year mentoring opportunity for 25 teina (mentee) chairs to deepen their leadership in a structured, supportive environment through connection with an experienced tuakana (mentor) chair.
  • The launch of a community governance website which will act as a knowledge hub for the sector. For further information visit

Special thanks

Since 2019, number of organisations have contributed to this important mahi for the community sector. These include: The Superdiversity Institute for Law, Policy and Business; Auckland Council; Foundation North; Rātā Foundation; Grant Thornton; the Department of Internal Affairs; Volunteering New Zealand; Volunteer Kāpiti; Mentoring Foundation NZ; the Institute of Directors.