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The Manaaki Hapori Enhancing Communities project was developed by NZCCSS to identify the different ways parishes and communities are responding to the needs of families during the recession.

Many parishes are involved with community development and social support activities. Manaaki Hapori identified best practices that are benefiting communities. Success stories about these parish activities were profiled on the NZCCSS website, Kete Kupu, Christian media and on Facebook.

Collaboration between parish-based communities and social service agencies enabled them to share expert knowledge and resources. Manaaki Hapori hosted networking gatherings to facilitate referral opportunities and promote relationship building or whakawhanaungatanga within rohe and across denominations.

Manaaki Hapori was a multi-level project focussed on building an ecumenical community that responds to the stresses on families in a way that is practical, that minimises unnecessary duplication and maximises efficient collaboration.

Parish-based community responses

Many of the NZCCSS member churches respond pro-actively to needs they identify within their local communities. Sometimes this is in the form of increased support and generosity to existing programmes (foodbanks, budgeting programmes etc.). At other times it is through direct action taken at community level.

In the last recession these types of direct action included community cooking and sewing classes, visiting families in need of support, arranging community gardens and teaching gardening skills, shared community meals and neighbourhood gatherings. Co-ordination between agencies providing these services avoids duplication and ensures that there is a spread of services across neighbourhoods. Co-ordination can prevent people from ‘recreating  the wheel’ when developing resources and services.

This project helped activate grassroots responses and coordinate the provision of services. Some of the ways this was achieved:

  • Identifying examples of good practice initiatives and developing profiles of these initiatives for sharing through the Christian (and where ‘picked up’ mainstream) media; and
  • The NZCCSS project coordinator gave advice and linked people up with other groups involved in similar projects
  • Information in NZCCSS publications and on our website.

Enhanced leadership and advocacy

NZCCSS and their member church leaders work closely together to inform the church and wider communities of issues affecting poor and vulnerable New Zealanders and of the practical steps needed to be taken to address these issues. In 2008 the Let us look after each other – aroha tetahi ki tetahi programme built up the profile of our church leaders as social justice commentators and increased the understanding of church congregations on these issues and the role of NZCCSS.

NZCCSS is actively involved in the social policy development process at government official levels and is directly involved with politicians.  Providing up to date information on the effects of the recession on New Zealand families and communities is critical to the development of good public policy and regulatory responses to address these effects.

The council and its church leaders are known to be non-partisan and focused on the well-being of New Zealanders and are leaders in advocating for poor and vulnerable people.  Direct information ‘from the coal-face’ on the impacts of the recession from the regular meetings with regional social service providers greatly enhances our ability to identify trends, to develop appropriate policy advice and provide feedback on real issues arising from policy implementation.

These meetings will also provide opportunities to promote greater collaboration and the messages coming out of the Social Services Collaboration phase of this project.

This project encouraged collaboration and enhanced our advocacy with government for effective policy and regulatory responses to the recession by:

  • Bringing together practitioner groups within different regions (3 to 4 meetings per year) to identify emerging issues and pressure points and build a sense of community and mutual support
  • Providing up to date information on emerging trends and on how well policy responses are working in practice
  • Increasing regional understanding of the policy ‘drivers’ and how to influence them
  • Encouraging closer collaboration through sharing the emerging trends from the research from the Social Services Collaboration phase.