Kāpiti Mayoral Candidates Views on Voluntary Sector

22 September 2022 | Articles

Kāpiti Mayoral Candidates Views on Voluntary Sector

Want to know what our Mayoral candidates think about the Kāpiti volunteer community and how they will support this sector if elected? Read on! We sent three questions to all Kāpiti Mayoral candidates. Here are the responses that we received.

Janet Holborow

What role do you think the Council has in supporting a thriving Kāpiti Voluntary/Community Sector?
Council has an extremely important role to play supporting our community sector. In addition to the existing support Council provides, including Social Investment Funding, Community Grants and external funding advice, we could do more. We need to have the ability to support the day to day activities of our social sector, rather than forcing organisations to do more and more work to create projects which can attract funding (though that's important too). We could also support more with connecting organisations to possible funding sources, and helping to promote and communicate their services in the community.

What do you think are the significant obstacles and opportunities facing the Kāpiti voluntary sector over the next few years?
As always, the biggest obstacle is funding. There is more and more competition for limited available funds, and this will only increase as the cost of living situation continues and worsens. Any change of government would have significant impact on available funding. As more people become aware of Kāpiti, and more people move here, there is the opportunity to attract more funding to the district. Council needs to tirelessly advocate for that funding, and work with community organisations to bring external funds into the district.

If elected, how would you address these opportunities and obstacles?
This would be a top priority for me as Mayor. I would tirelessly advocate for our social services to organisations, meet regularly with social service providers, look for opportunities to bring together partnerships, and work regionally to look for opportunities for organisations to support each other across the Wellington Region. We need to understand exactly what's being provided in the district, and where the gaps are. To that end a stocktake and database of organisations needs to be kept up to date and used to identify need in the community.

Michelle Lewis

What role do you think the Council has in supporting a thriving Kāpiti Voluntary/Community Sector?
I think the sector is underutilised and supported and that it has a huge range of skills to contribute that can proactively support other outcomes the council is looking to deliver across our District. Enabling different methods of delivery is important to me. I want to explore how we can do things differently so that we can still work within rules and without every increasing rates. I value the input of the sector to enable us to be stronger together.

What do you think are the significant obstacles and opportunities facing the Kāpiti voluntary sector over the next few years?
• Attracting the younger generation to keep existing volunteer roles and organisations filled.
• Funding - how to attract funding to support the management of volunteers across the sector
• Changes to legislation - eg Societies / Charities Act and the expectations/ accountability of volunteer Board members.

If elected, how would you address these opportunities and obstacles?
As above I actively want to look at non-traditional approaches to the delivery of council projects. This could open up new funding streams to volunteer organisations to support various work across the District.

Chris Mitchell

The volunteer sector covers a big range of activities, some of which I may well be completely unaware of. I know of significant volunteer contributions in the health, education and sports areas, but the most visible for me is the work carried out by volunteers in various environmental enhancement projects. Based primarily on that limited experience here are my answers:

What role do you think the Council has in supporting a thriving Kāpiti Voluntary/Community Sector?
The Council has an overarching mandate concerned with community wellbeing, but in reality the broad work of the voluntary sector is the backbone of this wellbeing. My view is that Council should be there with resources which may include things from premises, equipment and materials, advice, coordination to financial grants. I would like to see these provided in conjunction with community boards as and where these activities are localised.

What do you think are the significant obstacles and opportunities facing the Kāpiti voluntary sector over the next few years?
Apart access from funding and the other resources I've mentioned, I know that regulations and policies and the ways in which Council administers them can often be an obstacle to voluntary work and projects. Opportunities will grow both with population, changing demographics, environmental changes, and limits on local government and government spending - I think the voluntary sector will become even more critical than it is already.

If elected, how would you address these opportunities and obstacles?
In some activities there's often a confusing overlap of governmental responsibilities, and I see the council's role - as part of the wellbeing mandate mentioned above - as taking responsibility for coordinating or resolving such overlaps. Certainly in some of the environmental areas (eg river and stream enhancement), most agencies are happy to agree to let just one take the lead and make the decisions.

I don't think that there's a single solution or response to these matters. One key area that the Council is failing at is listening and acting on what it hears. This needs an attitudinal shift which is a priority for me. In structural terms i think that we need to empower and resource community boards to act quickly on local issues and needs, and at a governance level we need to have a committee structure (where most decisions will be made) which includes people appointed from outside the Council for their specialised knowledge and skills - I see the voluntary sector being an important part of this.

Martin Halliday

What role do you think the Council has in supporting a thriving Kāpiti Voluntary/Community Sector?
A supportive and funding role. Council and also Councillors/Community boards have a role to play as connectors and networkers. Local knows local and we are fortunate that we have a community that cares, tempered by the need we know is also in our communities. Council already has various funding options avail with the most significant being the Social investment fund. I do believe there is a funding gap for some tried and proven agencies that I think some set funding should be in place to support. An example would be the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

What do you think are the significant obstacles and opportunities facing the Kāpiti voluntary sector over the next few years?
Funding is always an issue but training, mentoring etc is something that would help a sector that tends to do what it can on the smell of an oily rag.The social investment fund has empowered stage 2 of the impact trust and volunteer kapiti connected communities work. This upcoming tranche of funding to help with that training and upskilling area. This is very positive. I highlight this as the council needs to be an enabler which it is certainly doing in this case. Council cannot be all things to everyone. But it can listen, advise, partner, support etc…. As its part in helping in the community wellbeing space. I also note that, especially in our aged sector, having pathways to meaningful participation in volunteer work can also provide companionship, meaning, purpose and fulfilment. This would also be true for youth and others that are perhaps looking for ways to combat loneliness and isolation.

If elected, how would you address these opportunities and obstacles?
For me, the Council is already doing great work in this space. Could we do it better? That's what needs to be addressed in an ongoing way and constantly assessed. Relationships are important at all levels in both operations and governance. What's also important is to keep communication open. Connectivity is critical and building/enabling a connected voluntary sector helps to maximise a limited pool of expertise and resources.

Advocacy is also going to be very important , especially with health reform, we need to ensure Kapiti is well served with the health reforms coming through with regards to health care delivery. This will lead to pressures hopefully being taken off the requirements of the volunteer sector. Personally I will need to be aware and informed of what is happening in the sector, which I will do as part of the awareness and connections I have built up over the past 3 years in council and longer. I also see the Kapiti Community Centre replacement as an opportunity to work with the sector to build in potential infrastructure, also the development of Wharemauku park as a potential interactive community wellbeing space.

Rob McCann

What role do you think the Council has in supporting a thriving Kāpiti Voluntary/Community Sector?
I believe that KCDC should have an overarching enabling role. Council is the agency that has the resources to bring groups and organisations together, or contract an organisation to ensure that takes place, as we currently do. What council is not necessarily good at is having the ideas or the implementation. We need to trust all our community partners, operate in a ‘high trust’ mode and be the organisation that backs you to make our community better.

What do you think are the significant obstacles and opportunities facing the Kāpiti voluntary sector over the next few years?
• My take is that the voluntary sector is facing huge burnout with exhausted volunteers and ongoing funding shortfalls.
• It feels like the funding that KCDC applies to the sector maybe too focused on new outcomes, rather than supporting the existing good work that the community does. New, does not always mean better.
• Sometimes KCDC is guilty of picking winners and that needs to end.
• I know there is frustration when talking to new staff at KCDC and that is a significant problem across council where institutional knowledge is often lost. The voluntary sector often has that knowledge because people are undertaking tasks for love, not money.
• Somehow, we need to better acknowledge that. With the Civic Awards ceremony, this has the opportunity to be a massive celebration of our voluntary sector. We need to build the event in the same way the Economic Development team have worked to build the Electra Business and Innovation Awards.

• If elected, how would you address these opportunities and obstacles?
The way in which we fund the social sector needs to be reviewed. I am not confident that the funding supports a wide enough range of organisations to undertake business as usual activities, that are no less important than forging new relationships and new ways of working. Applications for smaller pockets of funds need to be less onerous and there should be more support from council provided for fundraising and equipment use. We need to start thinking outside the box to find ways to support one another eg in Australia, some small councils operate a system where because they need an item a couple of times a year, they purchase it and have an equipment library that non-profits then utilise. Ultimately the best ideas will come from you, and I’d like to see a workshop with the voluntary sector early in the triennium, to understand what your current needs are, and what some of the solutions could be. Whatever the Mayoralty outcome, there is an opportunity for new ideas and a more collaborative approach.