This is a story of collaboration, of the weaving together of many organisations to create a strong foundation for our Kāpiti community leaders to learn together.
In 2018 the Kāpiti Coast District Council introduced the new Social Investment Fund and granted multi-year funding to Volunteer Kāpiti and Kāpiti Impact Trust to collaborate towards building a Capable Kāpiti Community Sector. This was a brand-new weave. Volunteer Kāpiti and Kāpiti Impact Trust had never worked together before. They had to navigate how to start the weave and how the collaboration would work in practice. They learnt that creating a good weave takes time, trust and shared decision-making.
The threads started expanding for the Kāpiti Capable Sector Project. A steering group was set up that included council and iwi representation. Then community organisations were listened to through focus group sessions and surveys to create a snapshot profile of the Kāpiti community sector. A working group was also established to develop a vision and voice for the sector. In 2019, from the wider weaving of voices came the need to provide more opportunities for governance/community leaders to connect and learn together.
Meanwhile, also, in 2019 and beyond Kāpiti, the Centre for Social Impact were collaborating with a group of organisations on the national strategy to strengthen community governance. When they shared the National Action Plan for Community Governance it resonated with the findings from the Capable Sector Project. The action plan noted the need for a mentoring service to provide kanohi ki te kanohi support for boards. Was there a way we could all work together and our weave become even more stronger? Volunteer Kāpiti contacted the Centre for Social Impact, where they discussed piloting a Governance mentoring programme in Kāpiti as part of the Capable Sector Project and as part of a pilot for the national action plan. A new collaboration within the Capable Sector Project was established in 2021. With Community Governance Aotearoa, Mentoring Foundation New Zealand, Volunteer Kāpiti and Kāpiti Impact Trust joining forces to pilot the Community Governance Mentoring Programme. Our MoUs became a complex weave pattern but at the heart we found lots of points of connection as we weaved through.
This is when it gets exciting when the collaboration is humming and the mahi is happening! We piloted the Community Governance Mentoring Programme in 2021 and it was a great success. 10 community governance mentees were matched with 10 skilled volunteer mentors for a 6 month programme. Well considered matching with mentors helped to foster Tuakana-Teina relationships, utilising the skills and experience that already exists within Kāpiti. All mentees noted that they had increased confidence and knowledge in their governance roles as a result of the programme. Programme participants became part of the weaving - connecting, and learning together. Learnings from the pilot, resulted in an extended weave across Aotearoa with other organisations (many of them Volunteer Centres) collaborating with Community Governance Aotearoa for their own Governance mentoring programmes.
Volunteer Kāpiti now offers mentoring programmes for community leaders (for Managers and Trustees of community organisations). Often mentees and mentors want to continue to connect and learn after the programme has finished. Every mentee and mentor that joins the programme adds to this weave, strengthening connections in the community.
In 2023 Volunteer Kāpiti won the Education category for Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards for their mentoring programmes. How does Volunteer Kāpiti celebrate the success of such a complex weave, with so many people involved within multi-collaborations? It is not that easy to recognise everyone in a short speech! The best we can do is to celebrate the impact in the community, the strong relationships formed between organisations and people and the strength of sharing skills and resources. In the end we have a beautiful multi-weave strong enough to support community leaders in their mahi to contribute to the wellbeing of everyone in the community.