Community economic development: understanding the New Zealand context

5 Jun 2014

This report examines social enterprise and community economic development in New Zealand.

Executive Summary

This report is the outcome of a comprehensive research process that includes interviews with 97 social enterprise and community economic development (CED) practitioners and five focus groups. The interviewed practitioners operate in cities, small towns and rural areas from around New Zealand and are involved in a diverse range of trading activities. The report
integrates these findings with a comprehensive review of New Zealand and international literature about CED and social enterprise.

The report also includes a library of seven case studies that respond to the research hypothesis (proposition) that was developed through the data analysis process. The case
studies exemplify best practice in CED and social enterprise in New Zealand at this time. The author has a background in community development, social enterprise and the creative
sector, and the research report draws on her knowledge and experience gained from working in these areas within New Zealand and in Scotland.

We live in extremely challenging times. New Zealand, like the rest of the world, is suffering the effects of complex and intractable social problems, growing inequalities in health, wealth and opportunity, resource depletion and environmental degradation. The 2008 Global Financial Crisis has led to widespread uncertainty, social unrest and a reduced funding pool from grant makers and government. The expectation that governments will fix these urgent problems for the rest of us is increasingly unrealistic. We must face the issues together, across sectors and cultures, and find new paradigms to respond to the challenging issues of our time.

A growing localism agenda is emerging that involves devolution of power and resources to communities. Civic participation in traditional political structures and processes is decreasing
- but citizen participation at a local level is growing in many communities. There is increasing evidence that there are better health and wellbeing outcomes when people have more control and local access to services. New Zealand is one of the most centralised countries in the OECD, and the concepts of localism and devolution have gained less policy traction here than in many overseas countries, but nevertheless the localism movement is happening on the ground.

Traditional commerce is inherently expansionist and centralist, and has led to unsustainable growth — one of the main drivers of inequity and resource depletion. In response, a “new
economics” is emerging — based on shared values of protecting the environment for future generations and reducing the gap between rich and poor. This new economics seeks to empower local people and to support local economies.

Publication Details
Published year only: 
Subject Areas
Geographic Coverage