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Kia ora koutou

I am sure you will agree, this has been a year of change for us all throughout the motu, both personally and professionally.

While we have navigated through these challenging times, CSI have continued to support many communities to develop capacity/capability, collaborate and take the positives out of our COVID-19 situation to provide deeper impact.

Huge mihi to all our partners, clients, and CSI associates. Thank you all for your continued mahi, having the ability to pivot to ensure CSI have been able to continue to (virtually) work alongside you to deliver on your vision. It is a privilege to be in this space.

In this, our final newsletter for the year, we look at some of our recent mahi, and reflect on some of the highlights of 2021 at CSI.

From all of us at CSI, we wish you a very Meri Kirihimete. Stay safe and enjoy the summer holidays. We look forward to seeing you (in person) in 2022.

Ngā mihi nui

Karinia Lee, Head of Centre, Centre for Social Impact

Participatory grantmaking with young Pacific leaders

When Foundation North set out to shift the power in the funding relationship and put young people in the driving seat, the Pacific Future Makers Fund was born.

The fund was the Foundation’s first exploration of participatory grantmaking, and a report by CSI tells the Pacific Future Makers story from the perspectives of the Foundation, the young grantmakers, and the applicants. It provides an insight into the challenges and benefits of this innovative approach to grantmaking. Read more

The Foundation’s journey started when it invited ten young Pacific leaders to design and drive a $100,000 fund that would distribute funding in a way that was more responsive to Pacific communities’ aspirations. The Foundation also hoped the fund would help it reach beyond the Foundation’s existing networks and deliver positive outcomes for the community. The initiative aligned with the Foundation’s 15-year strategy which includes a focus on increased equity in priority communities including Pacific Peoples and South Auckland.

As the young grantmakers set up the Pacific Future Makers Fund they learnt about what went into marking criteria and developed their own approach to assessing applications. They then discussed, listened and debated the impact that each project, and the portfolio, could have. Ninety applications were received, and 34 applicants received grants.

The evaluation found the experience of the young grantmakers was overwhelmingly positive, with all of them agreeing with the statement: “’I felt empowered to practice my leadership and influence positive change in Pacific communities.”

Applicants found the Future Makers Fund accessible, appreciating innovations such as Facebook Live sessions “For Pacific by Pacific – reflective of community”, and the option of a video application to allow them to tell their stories.

For Foundation North, this first venture into participatory grantmaking challenged its assumptions and ways of doing things. The Foundation found the process more resource-intensive, but worth the investment of staff time, with it delivering more inclusive grant-making, and stronger relationships.

What the Foundation learnt is now being applied through a partnership with the Ministry of Youth Development to create a $200,000 fund to be distributed by Pacific youth for the benefit of their peers and communities. The Foundation will also share what it has learnt with other funders who are interested in trying participatory grantmaking approaches.

Embedding evaluation in your mahi – The Southern Initiative’s Niho Taniwha Framework

Embedding evaluative practice was the focus of the final free online Kia Whiti Tonu workshop, funded by Foundation North, for 2021. Facilitated by CSI Associate Rachael Trotman, with speakers Penny Hagen from the Auckland Co-Design Lab and Sophia Beaton from The Southern Initiative’s Tamariki Wellbeing team, this workshop ‘sold out’ quickly, with many attending Foundation North grantees.

Penny and Sophia presented the Niho Taniwha framework and their learning journey around embedding evaluative practice, then opened the session for questions. Key themes included: the power of centring matauranga Māori in evaluation and all mahi; the importance of making time for reflection and learning processes; how evaluative practice is a muscle to develop - start small and build; and the value of including resourcing for evaluation and learning in funding applications and funding agreements.

The presentation, and a video recording of the workshop, are now available here.

Unu Ora

The unique Unu Ora wellbeing resources, created by CSI associate Tuihana Ohia, were released over six weeks during October and November. Each week, Unu Ora offered a whakatauki to encourage reflection, and some questions and ideas to help us create moments of stillness in our lives to attend to our wellbeing. These thoughtful creative tools have now been combined into a single pack. Use them to support your own wellbeing, or share them with whānau, friends, and work colleagues.

Community Governance - National Action Plan

Community Governance NZ programme director Rose Hiha-Agnew says she has had an amazing year working with the Community Governance Steering Group and Te Ao Māori Advisory Group. “It has been rewarding to support the implementation of the National Action Plan, including getting underway large scale mentoring programmes to support governance learning."

“In October we launched the Tuakana-Teina Chair Mentoring programme. We are running this in partnership with the Institute of Directors (IoD). This will deliver 25 teina/mentees with one-to-one mentoring with an experienced tuakana/mentor chair to deepen their leadership in a structured and supportive environment. In February, our national mentoring programme for up to 100 community governors will start.”

For further information on these programmes, please email Rose at

A Community Governance New Zealand website has been developed. The website, which will be a home for governance resources, information and programmes, is now online at 

Regular updates on the Community Governance actions and initiatives are available through Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also sign up for occasional email updates

Community trusts climate action commitment

In recognition of the important role community funders play in building better outcomes for the environment and communities of Aotearoa New Zealand, a group of community trusts have agreed a Funders Commitment on Climate Action. Guided by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and mātaurangi Māori aspirations, the commitment focuses on a just transition to a net zero world, collaboration, and leadership.

Signatory trusts include Foundation North, Trust Waikato, BayTrust, Toi Foundation, Eastern and Central Community Trust, Wellington Community Trust, Rātā Foundation, The Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury, Otago Community Trust and Community Trust South.

The commitment is an outcome of the formation of a Climate Change Working Group established by the chief executives of the trusts, with support from the Centre for Social Impact. The working group aims to explore ways to work together on climate change issues.

“We see this as an opportunity to increase accountability, to support action for just transitions, greater equity, community resilience, and ultimately improve outcomes for the communities we serve,” says Linn Araboglos, Chief Executive of Wellington Community Trust, who chairs the working group.

“Taking collective action on climate issues makes sense. Climate action is community action, and we are stronger when we work together.”

The commitment is designed to be a high-level document that other New Zealand philanthropic funders are encouraged to sign up to. To read the full commitment, please visit

The year in review

During 2021, the CSI team has worked with a diverse range of clients to support them across our five pou: strategy and innovation design; capacity development; leadership and culture; impact and insights; and effective funding practice.

This snapshot of the year touches on just some of the mahi delivered by our associates.


Governance remained a focus for CSI in 2021, providing backbone support to Community Governance NZ with the National Action Plan for Community Governance, and governance training for the combined community trusts.

The National Action Plan for Community Governance

The year for this important collaboration with the Community Governance Steering Group started with a mini co-design process with thirty experienced board chairs in January. Facilitated by Jo Cribb, the process was designed to identify 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 videos have had over 2000 views. Other key achievements during the year include the development of two major national governance mentoring initiatives and a community governance website which will act as a knowledge hub for the sector.

Governance professional development for community trust trustees

Our associates Caren Rangi, Mata Cherrington, Jo Cribb and Judy Whiteman facilitated a range of governance workshops over the year as part of the combined community trusts governance programme. The Introduction to Community Trust Governance workshops brought together trustees at the early stages of their trustee journey. The Advanced Community Trust Governance Practice workshops were designed for trustees with at least a couple of years’ experience in the role. A series of workshops designed specifically for chairs completed the options for individual governance development. The value of the workshops that drew together trustees from multiple trusts was extended by the opportunity for trustees to learn from trustees from other regions and build networks. In addition to these, Whole of Board workshops are being offered which provide the opportunity for each Board to elevate its practice of working together and be excellent governors. These were held for three trusts later in 2021, with the remaining eight trusts scheduled for these through to June 2023.

COVID-19 response

COVID-19 continued to affect us all in 2021. As a team, CSI are now exceptionally well prepared to pivot from kanohi ki te kanohi meetings and workshops to using Zoom and Microsoft Teams to connect with our clients, partners, workshop participants, and other stakeholders. As we moved in and out of lockdowns, Chloe Harwood did several revisions of our report for the sector to provide updated information on government and philanthropic support available for COVID-19 response.

Kia Whiti Tonu

Nearly 1000 people took part in the 2021 Kia Whiti Tonu capability workshops. Funded by Foundation North, these free workshops covered a range of topics: wellbeing; the use of digital technology; working with the media; governance challenges; innovation and strategy; and the mastery of collaboration. The final workshop for the year, held this month, covered how to embed evaluation in your mahi. Further workshops are planned for 2022. All workshops are available online on our website here.

Environmental strategies

Strategic pathways for environmental impact were the focus of two workshops facilitated by CSI. Chloe Harwood and Miranda Cassidy-O’Connell supported SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s to re-imagine their contribution to the oceans. Miranda facilitated a workshop for Environment Network Manawatu (ENM), an umbrella organisation for grassroots environmental organisations in the region, to identify priorities for the region and update ENM’s 10-year strategic action plan.

Unu Ora

To help us all survive as we looked towards the end of another challenging year, Tuihana Ohia created a unique wellbeing resource, Unu Ora. Unu Ora offered a series of six brief meditations and exercises to help us create some moments of stillness and reflection to sustain us.

Reports and resources

Thriving Rangatahi - data driven perspectives to contribute to a more equitable Aotearoa

Vodafone Foundation commissioned the Thriving Rangatahi literature review from CSI to help the Foundation and the wider philanthropic sector respond to the needs of excluded and disadvantaged young people. The aim of the review was to help the sector understand the levers of change with the greatest potential to enhance protective factors and address risk factors for young New Zealanders. The review helped inform the development of Vodafone Foundation’s Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer. This free interactive digital tool draws on government and community data to allow users to explore precise population-level data to improve and inform their work with young New Zealanders.

Sprinting for Good

Co-design processes offer community organisations a way of engaging with the people they serve and getting their input into policy and service design and delivery. The CSI team learnt a lot about the potential of the process through the co-design sprints that supported the development of the National Action Plan for Community Governance. What was learnt was captured in Sprinting for Good, a report and toolkit for community groups to use to create their own co-design processes.

Frameworks for understanding and demonstrating social impact

Rachael Trotman is one of our associates with a particular expertise in evaluating social impact. In a video based on evaluation workshops for CSI clients, Rachael provided an overview of different ways organisations can ‘know and show’ the difference they make.

Regenerative environment - thoughts from a sustainable business perspective

Rachel Brown ONZM, CEO of the Sustainable Business Network contributed a video to our series of reflections from community leaders on the impact of COVID-19. Rachel reflected on the disruption of the pandemic and the 'breath of time' it gave the planet as communities internationally locked down, what we learnt, and what the implications of this learning are.

Farewells and welcomes

Rose Hiha-Agnew joined us as Programme Director for the National Action Plan for Community Governance in February. In May we farewelled Monica Briggs as Head of Centre as she left us to take up the role of CEO of the Child Cancer Foundation. Karinia Lee joined us as acting head of Centre, before accepting the permanent role and starting with us full-time in August. We also welcomed three new associates; Mele Wendt MNZM, Sarah Greenaway, and Miranda Cassidy-O’Connell.

Thank you

For the CSI team, 2021 has been another year rich in relationships, contribution and learning. We are privileged to do the mahi we do alongside organisations driven by the kaupapa of making our communities stronger today and building a better Aotearoa for those who follow us. Thank you for the opportunity to support you.