One Voice Te Reo Kotahi
10 October 2013
Guest speaker: Benesia Smith, Deputy Chief Executive for Strategy and Governance, CERA.
Welcome: Rex Gibson welcomed everyone on behalf of the Organising Group and gave a blessing to the 70 people present
Setting the scene: Katherine explained One Voice Te Reo Kotahi. Much of it involves putting groups in touch with each other. It also organises forums or hui for the NGO sector. Katherine also outlined the Pan NGO sector’s representation in CERA by Sara Epperson and Wendy Dalls Katoa, which is in the Community Wellbeing Planning Group. It would be good to get NGO representation in other parts of CERA’s work, as the sector is extremely diverse and touches every part of society. She reminded those present of the Johns Hopkins Study of the sector in NZ which documents 97,000 organisations not formed by government (whether national, regional or local) or commercial interests. The study also showed that only 10% of those have any paid staff. Christchurch is assumed to have about 10% of such organisations. In addition it was noted that the conclusion, from the March 2013 report Building Community resilience: Learning from the Canterbury earthquakes, that “communities [of interest, identity and of place] need to be sufficiently resourced and enabled to carry out their vital role.” was an impetus for the questions that were posed to CERA in the OVTRK invitation.
“There is an interest of the state that must not be controlled by the state. Therein lies the realm of voluntary activity”. Lord Beveridge UK 1950s.
Address: Benesia Smith
Benesia spoke to a paper which was distributed (attached) and explained that she has been in her role for eight weeks, but part of CERA since 2011.
She explained the history, vision and values of CERA, as shown in her Powerpoint handout. She then explained the four priorities that government has – rebuilding Christchurch is one of these priorities. This gives CERA influence with other government departments. The five organisational priorities for CERA in 2013 were developed after extensive conversations with different sectors and signed off by Cabinet. Each priority has a number of actions under them. The priorities will be reviewed for 2014, drawing on monitoring programme data and consultation. Benesia then explained each priority and gave a number of examples of activities undertaken in each.
In relation to insurance, Benesia explained that all insurance companies have in their contracts the right to void them in the event of any action by government to legislate over them.
The priorities are delivered through six portfolios that together have 25 work programmes. CERA may deliver, enable, or support each programme.
CERA is currently considering what programmes can be transitioned before 2016.
NGOs are influencing the programmes through being involved in different forums, issues that come up go back to the staff.
Doesn’t see CERA as having a role in accommodation for NGOs, it is the role of the strategic partners such as CCC and TRONT. CERA wasn’t set up to deliver services, it is leading and coordinating. After the June quake they did have to take an implementation role is some things. They do not have the funding to resource NGOs.
Discussion: Benesia was joined by Michelle Mitchell, Deputy Chief Executive, Social and Cultural Recovery
Q: We’re happy for CERA not to resource accommodation for NGOs, but how can we find out the whole picture of NGO accommodation needs and where can we look to for leadership to bring us all together to develop a collaborative strategy?
Claire Phillips from CCC responded that Council was compiling information on who was in premises with temporary resource consent.
Q: how can the ‘arranged marriage’ between CERA and CCC be widened to bring in the NGO sector?
A: The sector was already in the relationship – “in the house but not in the bed”
Q: why are people on TC3 land getting cash settlements forced on them when they know nothing about the land?
Benesia: LURP was produced by strategic partners and through a consultation process. Public comments are now being analysed to see what amendments might be made. She noted that this is a technical question, and she didn’t have the information to be able to respond but was willing to talk with questioner after the Forum to workout to whom to refer.
Q temporary workers accommodation built on reserves will change into permanent accommodation and the land can be changed from crown owned to privately owned.
A: at present government has resource consent to build on reserves. A: We need to get more info, will send out information when it is found.
Q: I have been working on the Viva project for sustainable central city living. Cantabrians want to rebuild new houses on a swamp. We have engineers that have a very basic attitude to building safe foundations. I see no movement towards innovation to create a viable system of housing in a swamp. Viva has been withdrawn because could not create a viable model for building because of cost of remediating the land to required standard is prohibitive. How are you creating a housing scenario for Christchurch when innovation is not being encouraged.
A: Swampy ground has been an issue since long before CERA. MBIE are working on issue, they need to respond – there is an Engineering Advisory Grp, suggest you speak to them.
Q: Govt departments work in silos – a critical role for CERA has to make sure they talk to each other and get an integrated recovery. What happens after 2016?
A: transition team is working on this. Hope the lessons of last 2 & half years have taught agencies to work together but there is more work to be done. Locally government agencies have worked together at the operational level. It is at the strategic and policy level that it gets harder. With strategy being developed locally in CERA it has been easier. The challenge is to build capacity for this to happen before 2016 and work is underway on this.
Q: was there not a plan to build a government precinct in Christchurch that would help government departments to work together?
A That would be at the operational level. Almost all policy work (with the exception of CERA) happens in Wgtn, we need to set up something to change this.
Q: CERA is there to support the rebuild of social infrastructure, what about the creation of new infrastructure for changing demographics? With new migrants, money from MSD for Settling In has been moved to family violence. There is no service currently being funded to resolve migrant issues at the lowest level.
A: This should be brought up at the provider forums and by Pan NGO delegates on the CERA Wellbeing Planing Group (CWPG). Response: it has been raised in a number of forums, but getting traction is a challenge. A: Statistics are starting to show this problem too. We are trying to work with the social service govt agencies, how can we work on this and what service provision is needed?
Michelle acknowledged the courage and strong voice that Sara and Wendy bring to the CWPG table.
Q: It will take a long time to return the city to a prosperous and thriving place. What is your level of confidence that the strategic priorities will be continued after 2016? What are the barriers that you are seeing that might prevent a good transition from happening. E.g. relationship with CCC, what do you need to see them doing that will give you confidence in the transition?
A: I’m sitting on the fence for many areas and identifying potential areas that will probably need further work at present. I have been talking to CCC about the relationship and there are many areas where we have been working closely together, especially at the staff level. Using the metaphor of the marriage required of CERA and CCC that had had to happen without any courtship period she suggested there was a need for the renewal of vows.
Q: You say “we talk to a lot of people”. How do we find out who you talk to, about what, and what decisions it results in? Are you happy with the level of information that the public can access on your website to find this out?
A: Re information on website, it would depend on the issue. There will be data and statistics, possibly more full information will be on the websites of other government departments.
Q: Do you have a discretionary budget that you have control over locally that you can address issues.
A: We get money appropriated in the Budget for specific purposes, can only refer issues to the government dept that does get an appropriation vote for that – in this case our role is to enable. We have no extra discretionary funding.
Q: The Share an Idea exercise made it very clear that the citizens of Chch wanted a clean and green city. This means integrating social, environmental, economic and cultural wellbeings and other systems. I’ve heard nothing about this happening. For example, does CERA have any expertise or ability to mandate or encourage the provision of a CBD-wide sustainable central heating scheme? Where is sustainability in the modus operandi of CERA?
A: CBD is not my area, but it is outlined as something that is important in the Recovery Plan. I will take the question to the head of CCDU.
Q: People want clean green safe smart city. The opportunity was there to do a recovery based on that. What has happened to the people’s wishes in CERA? Share an Idea was a one-off community consultation, it should have been an ongoing dialogue.
A: Elements of that have been picked up on.
Benesia said there were a number of issues that were currently unsolved in terms of transitioning from the current time to when CERA ceases in 2016. These include how CCC and the government continue to relate given that there is an agreement about cost sharing between them – not only about the central city rebuild but also about ongoing work on horizontal infrastructure; who will undertake the monitoring of the recovery; what will be the future use of the residential red zone and there will be the challenge of 2014 being a government election year.
Summary by Katherine : there is lots of interest and passion and expertise amongst NGOs, also willingness to contribute. The modelling that you are doing here between policy (Benesia) and practice (Michelle) is something that we hope you can hold on to. Your openness has been impressive, I hope that we can keep this dialogue going. Another transition factor that you did not mention is that associated with recognition in the CER Act of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu's statutory role. We believe understanding amongst citizens needs to be addressed about how this will continue into the future beyond 2016. OVTRK has embraced Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty Relationships Framework as reflected by our two caucuses of Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti and would value being briefed about this aspect of transition.
We hope that this is useful to you. Our next forum is likely to be in the new year. We'll let you know what we are planning! In the meantime, if you haven't already seen the update from the panNGO delegates it has been sent to NGOs on the register, so have a look at one of our last emails.
The OVTRK Team