On the evening of Wednesday 17 March a diverse group of forty individuals gathered at the McGuinness Institute office to workshop the idea of a civics strategy in New Zealand. The purpose of the event was to explore the current state of civics and citizenship education and develop recommendations that can improve civic knowledge and engagement within all sectors of New Zealand society. The recommendations made by the Constitutional Advisory Panel formed the foundations of the evening, and the workshop built on the assumption that there is a case for change in New Zealand.
McGuinness Institute Patron, Todd Krieble and Master of Public Policy student, Danijela Tavich produced two preliminary documents available on the CivicsNZ website for guests to read prior to the evening.
- Working Paper 2017/11 – Civics and Citizenship Education in New Zealand Schools
- Think Piece 27 – Civics and Citizenship Education in New Zealand: A case for change?
The workshop was based around three questions:
- Is there a case for change in the way civics education is delivered in New Zealand?
- If so, what needs to be different?
- If so, who needs to do what in order to achieve a successful outcome?
The questions were designed to add greater depth to the papers by drawing differing ideas from a range of people. Common themes arose from the evening surrounding a lack of civic knowledge engagement where systems and processes of government are inaccessible, and the ways we can actively participate as citizens. It was widely noted that there is a disconnect in the relationships between individuals, communities and government, and a disjointed civic education framework both inside and outside the school system.
These themes led to further discussions on how we can reverse the trends through collective vision of what the civics landscape should look like in New Zealand and who needs to do what to improve civic and citizenship education. What was clear was that a civics strategy cannot be implemented in isolation, it requires the efforts of individuals, media, politicians, communities, iwi and schools alike to improve the quality of civic engagement and the safeguarding of democracy in New Zealand.
We would like to thank everyone who came to the event; it was an incredibly stimulating evening. We would particularly like to thank Geoffrey Palmer for attending and sharing his thoughts with the workshop group.
The working paper and think piece will be finalised in August. We are also hoping to have the think piece included in the Policy Quarterly in August.
About the Institute’s Project CivicsNZ
CivicsNZ aims to build social capital and improve empowerment and has two main work streams. Firstly, the Institute closely follows the progress of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, researching and reporting on key elements or issues. Secondly, building on the sentiments expressed during the StrategyNZ: Mapping our Future workshop – that young people need to be involved in, and have the capacity to engage with civic debate in New Zealand – the Institute hosted a forum for young New Zealanders to discuss the Constitutional Review. We have begun preliminary discussions around pursuing a national strategy for civics and citizenship education in schools and in the community, as recommended by the Constitutional Advisory Panel. We are looking to work with others who are interested in this area. Register your interest to follow our discussions here.