Michelle Cameron, Principal of James Cook School in Marton, Manawatu, shared her thoughts on the diversion and division of poverty in her town and how her school is helping to build an interdependent community, at the one-day Manawatu TacklingPovertyNZ workshop on 15 August 2016.

You can watch Michelle’s video on the McGuinness Institute YouTube channel or view it below.

Michelle spoke to the participants about a key question: how can we help our tamariki be the best that they can be?

When Michelle moved to Marton, she saw diversion and division within the community and began asking people three questions:

  • What did they need 10 years ago to be successful?
  • What do they need now?
  • What do they need in 10 years for their tamariki to be successful?

Having spoken with her community, they collaborated to create a vision: an interdependent community of engaged learners that are a richer influence on those around them. From there, Michelle has attempted to redefine and clear up the perceptions and the myths of poverty. After unpacking what poverty really is, she found that people changed their views on poverty.

Michelle told participants, ‘poverty to us is dysfunction: dysfunctional relationships with yourself, with a higher being, with others, and with the environment.’ By redefining poverty, kindness, and excellence in a way that is unique to the Manawatu community, she hoped the community could understand each other’s strengths.

The challenge Michelle saw for herself was to branch out of her silo within James Cook School, and to share their message of what the community can do to help children be their best.

About the TacklingPovertyNZ 2016 tour
In December 2015, the McGuinness Institute undertook a three-day workshop in collaboration with the New Zealand Treasury. Its purpose was to explore ways to reduce poverty in New Zealand. This workshop has led to a number of outputs, one of which was a tour of one-day workshops around New Zealand throughout 2016. The purpose of the tour was to build and share ideas on how to tackle poverty, come up with local solutions and connect like-minded people within communities.

The Manawatu workshop was one of six, along with workshops in Queenstown, Rotorua, Gisborne, Kaitaia and Kaikohe. A discussion paper for each area visited has been published on our website. These papers are specific to each community and together form a series showcasing insights from individuals who attended a one-day workshop in their local community.

In addition, the mayors from each council met with the then Minister of Finance, Hon Bill English to discuss the outputs of the workshops, which led to the Demarcation zones for public policy innovation proposal sent to the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Bill English, on 21 December 2016. The proposal calls for the establishment of demarcation zones, which will isolate and separate an area from existing rules to make space for new rules to be implemented that are fit for the specific community they serve – decentralising economic and social governance. This instrument of public policy reform aims to tackle poverty and build economic wealth in the community.

Working Paper 2017/01 – TacklingPovertyNZ 2016 Tour: Methodology, results and observations has been released for comment and can be found on our website. This paper brings all the outputs together from the six workshops and aims to illustrate the differences between communities. In 2017 we would like to build on these findings. There was a lot to learn and digest, and we are still working through what this means in terms of public policy. Any feedback on this paper is most welcome. This year we will send an invitation to all MPs to meet to discuss the working paper.