Community Governance


On Wednesday 19th Aug 2020, 9:30-11:30 am hear an accomplished panel present the National Action Plan for Community Governance, which is an outcome of a national process of co-design with people involved in community and NGO governance which focused on the actions needed to increase support for community governance, and build overall sector capacity.

This important mahi has been made possible with support from Auckland Council, Foundation North, Rata Foundation, Ministerial Discretionary Fund administered by the Department of Internal Affairs and Grant Thornton. 

Session Facilitators: 

  • Dr Jo Cribb - Programme Manager, National Strategy for Community Governance, Centre for Social Impact
  • Mele Wendt MNZM - Chair, Community Governance Steering Group & Independent Director 

The Presenters:

  • Barry Baker - For Purpose Specialist, Grant Thornton, NZ
  • Jo Brosnahan - Company Chair, Director, Governance and Leadership Adviser
  • Toni Kerr - Principal Advisor, Te Puni Kokiri
  • Sue McCabe - Chief Executive, Philanthropy NZ
  • Kirsten Patterson - Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Directors
  • Simon Telfer - Founder, Appoint Better Boards

Please register now -


22nd June 2020

Progress towards the development of a national strategy/ action plan for NGO and community governance has proceeded as we moved from Level 4 lockdown through to Level 1. Six workshop ‘sprints’ have now been completed, with a total of 145 people participating.  A final sprint, focused on Māori governance, is being organised for the end of June.  This is being led by Toni Kerr from Te Puni Kōkiri, and Sara Passmore from Te Tumu Paeroa.

“We’re really pleased with the progress that has been made, and the quality of input,” CSI’s Jo Cribb says. “Thirteen actions have been identified which will form the foundation for a whole package aiming at systems change.  The actions will provide immediate support for today’s governors, encourage and support the next generation of governors and seek to shift expectations and thinking about governance as a whole.”

The actions currently being developed and refined include:

  • Establishment of a mentoring programme
  • A concept for an app to help board members get the information they need, when they need it
  • Development of training resources and support for chairs
  • Development of a campaign to raise the profile and celebrate the value of community governance
  • The use of current registration processes to point new board members and new chairs to training and resources
  • Sharing and promoting new models of community governance
  • Co-designing a good governance code

“We expect further actions will be identified by the Maori governance sprint,” Jo says. 

Jo pays tribute to the participants’ patience and engagement with the online process, using Zoom, that was used for sprints during the Level 3 and 2 lockdowns.  John Morrow, head of philanthropy at JB Were New Zealand, was one of those participants.

“When I heard the sprint had been shifted to being all online, due to the lockdown, I wondered what would be achieved,” John says.  “After 10 plus hours on zoom over two days I was pleasantly surprised. Near strangers from diverse backgrounds came together quickly to work on strengthening good community governance. All credit to Jo Cribb and Jade Tang-Taylor, as well as their support at Centre for Social Impact, for keeping everyone focussed and engaged on the tasks throughout. They facilitated the group to derive a concept that survived a couple of challenges and is now being proposed for a programme of work in the national strategy.

“It was the combination of technology and great facilitators that made this a great discovery and ideation process.”  

Celia Patrick, deputy chief executive at Oranga Tamariki, also participated in a Zoom sprint.

“While going into this with some reservations, I was totally in awe of the engagement, process and outcomes we achieved by the end of the day. We achieved some real go forward momentum on a number of actions that will make a real difference for people in NGO governance roles.”

Sky City Community Trust trustee and Foundation North advisor Rosie Nathan (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Porou) was impressed by the way participants were kept ‘in the room’ during the process.

“Jo kept us engaged throughout.  We were able to move into ‘rooms’ to talk to each other and then come back and present our findings. I felt very connected to the other participants. I liked that we were able to harvest ideas in our small groups, then share these collectively and decide what to keep and what to delete.”

Rosie is now looking forward to participating in the Māori governance sprint.

“On a marae, we use different processes for governance based on whanaungatanga and whakapapa.  Great value is placed on kōrero, to allow people to talk through disagreements, and ultimately come together to whakamana the kaupapa.”

The Māori governance sprint concludes the programme of workshops. Planning is now underway for an on-line launch of the strategic action plan in mid-August.

On 29th and 30th June Toni Kerr (Te Puni Kokiri), Sara Passmore and Te Hamua Nikora (Te Tumu Paeroa) led the Maori governance sprint focused on "How can we ensure all kaitiaki exhibit and role model the right behaviours needed for success in their governance roles?"  

  • Two actions were identified that will be included in the National Action Plan for Community Governance:The Video Toolkit will contain short, humorous visual content that covers relevant subjects for Māori governors (such as the common things that can go wrong and reconciling Māori lore and law).  While there are resources for Māori governors, they are not easily accessible.  This action aims to create a series of humorous videos that will be widely shared on the social media platforms used by current and future Māori governors. Success is that initial user testing shows that the videos well equip Māori governors for their governance role.  Success is that the videos ‘go viral’.  
  •  The Valuing Maori Decision Making campaign aims to raise awareness of the value of Māori decision making and governance.  This campaign has the potential to be transformational.  A founding tenet is to raise awareness of the intrinsic value of a distributed decision-making and governance approach.   The campaign can be likened to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, using momentum to illustrate a point of difference that has always existed but been undervalued or ignored. Impact can be achieved through a variety of digital and media channels and carefully curated content that showcase the unique characteristics of Māori distributed decision-making.   This will explore and help [translate] some traditional concepts that underpin the lived experience of rōpū who have access the skills and wisdom of the collective, from kāuta to board table. Success is increased awareness and accessibility by kaitiaki of Maori decison-making and integration of these into their practice as well as recognition by mainstream organisations.  


24th April 2020

The first of our six workshops to design a national strategy for NGO and community governance was held in March - before lockdown - at the Philanthropy New Zealand office in Wellington. Led by PNZ chief executive Sue McCabe, with facilitation support from CSI’s Jo Cribb and Jade Tang-Taylor, this design sprint focused on the challenge of engaging the broader governance community in valuing community governance.

While the participants were from diverse organisations, connections were quickly established.

“One thing that stood out for me when people shared their relationship to volunteering and governance in their own lives, was a common thread linking our stories, and that was a connection to the actions of parents and grandparents,” says Michelle Kitney, chief executive of Volunteering New Zealand.  “Volunteering was woven into the fabric of their lives, and something that was done as part of belonging to your community.

Kelly Dare, general manager of engagement at CreativeHQ says the sprint opened her eyes to the challenges that other people in different sectors are facing. “But it also made me, and I think all of us, realise that a lot of the challenges are similar - especially as it relates to NGO governance. In particular, issues of how we get people into the governance pipeline, how we encourage corporates to support governance roles for their staff and how we build a collaborative, supportive environment for NGOs across multiple sectors.”

The sprint conversations were anchored by a set of personas developed by the team.  “We had caricatures representing the personas up on the wall to remind us who we were designing our actions for, community board and committee members,” Jo Cribb says. “It was a good way to keep us grounded in the reality of being on a community group committee, and to keep the diversity of the sector front of mind.”


Sprint participants were divided into two groups – a group which generated a range of ideas, and a challenge group. At the end of each day, the challenge group joined the sprint group to carry out a rigorous process of assessment and refinement of the ideas generated during the sprint.

“The challenge group proved to be a very important part of the process. The sprint team was encouraged to go big and all-encompassing in its thinking, but some of what was generated would have been difficult to implement.  The challenge team tested the ideas and helped us focus them into forms that could be put into action,” Jo says.

Two ideas emerged with plans and momentum to put them in place; a social good campaign which highlighted the value of NGO and community governance to encourage people to step up into boards, and the development of an index for New Zealand organisations to benchmark their generosity in terms of giving to communities and supporting volunteers on boards.

A campaign to highlight the value and diversity within community governance was of particular interest to Michelle Kitney. “In getting a greater range of people to understand the value of NGO governance, we may need to change how we talk about it. We need to be able to talk about it in ways that are better understood by say the business sector.”

For Kelly Dare, the time invested in the sprint was an opportunity to contribute to the long-term strength of the NGO and community sector.

“I really believe in the work that NGOs do. Taking part in this programme was a way for me to give back to organisations and to take my development as a Governance Group chair seriously.”

4 March

This exciting collaboration between the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) and community organisations is swinging into action.  The first of six workshops to design the strategy will be held in Wellington on 11 and 12 March. 

“Each of the workshops will take two days and each will focus on just one of the six outcome areas identified for the strategy,” project manager Dr Jo Cribb says.  Jo wrote the 2019 report on NGO governance from the Superdiversity Institute and CSI that identified the need for strategy.  Following the launch of the report, a steering group was formed to support the kaupapa, and a project scope was taken out to funders. The initiative attracted the support of Auckland Council, Foundation North, Rātā Foundation, Grant Thornton, and the Department of Internal Affairs. 

“Each of these organisations saw the value of investing in the development of a strategy that would improve governance in a sector that generates an estimated $20 billion in annual income, and which delivers so many services to communities throughout the country.”

Content for the strategy will be generated by people from across the motu with NGO and community governance experience.

“We put a call out at the end of last year for volunteers with an interest in governance of not-for-profit organisations and the community sector to participate in workshops around the six outcome areas identified for the strategy,” Jo says.  “We were looking for a range of experience, from people who are involved with local sports clubs, environmental groups or social service agencies, through to people with experience in governance in regional or national organisations.

Over 80 people volunteered from across Aotearoa, and all have been invited to be part of the process.  The workshops are taking the form of design sprints.  Each sprint will draw on design thinking to define the problem and create and test actions.   The combined wisdom of the sprints will be included in the national strategy.

The first sprint, which will focus on engaging the broader governance community in valuing community governance, is being facilitated by Philanthropy New Zealand CEO, Sue McCabe.

For steering group chair Mele Wendt, the first sprint will provide an insight into the collective wisdom of a group of NGO governors.

“People involved in NGO governance in various sectors rarely have a chance to come together to share their experiences. The process of developing the strategy provides a unique opportunity for us to learn from people who invest so much of their own time to help New Zealand’s NGOs deliver for their communities.”

Steering group member Toni Kerr says the chance to participate in a multidisciplinary approach for such an important kaupapa is very appealing.

“We are looking forward to working alongside whānau and community focussed organisations.”

A principal advisor at Te Puni Kokiri, Toni sees a connection between the NGO and Community Governance strategy work, and work being done by TPK.

“At Te Puni Kōkiri, we’ve recognised that building capability can be a key enabler, particularly in the area of “grassroots” governance that is characterised by limited resources, high barriers to accessing funding and is not well served by current governance models. 

As such there is considerable alignment with the objectives of the project to deliver a governance solution that is relevant and meets the needs of whānau and communities.

An outline of the outcomes from each sprint will be available through the CSI website.  A draft of the national strategy, based on the content generated through the workshops, is expected to be completed in the second half of this year. 

Sprint schedule