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With community-led development, we work within five guiding principles developed by Inspiring Communities


  • Grow from shared local visions
  • Build from strengths
  • Work with diverse people and sectors
  • Grow collaborative local leadership
  • Learn by doing


Principle 1 -  Grow from shared vision

Whirinaki, a rural Māori community in the Far North

The tupuna of Whirinaki had long talked about improving their environment and restoring the culture for their hapū. The awa (river) had been neglected. It was clogged up. It flooded regularly. Livestock using the river had made it dirty. Other life in the river was dying. 

The vision for the future did not need to be written down to be the deeply-held, shared commitment for the people – focus on restoring the awa and the rest will follow.

We worked with the Whirinaki community to support them to develop a pathway plan of what they wanted to achieve and how they would measure their progress.

We also worked with them so that they could work out what went well and why, as well as what didn’t go so well and why and what could they do differently next time. 

They were prepared to change how they planned to do things as they went, while still getting to where they wanted to be.

Watch their video to find out more about their projects and the highlights of their journey.

Principle 2 -  Build from strengths

North East Valley, a suburb of Dunedin

The North East Valley already had a community programme, The Valley Project.  It was a good starting point for exploring what was already happening in the community and useful in building a picture of the strengths, skills and resources available in the community to help achieve shared community goals. 

Community dinners were already a feature, so the Valley Project used these to get more ideas from their community on what they love in the area and what they’d like to see more of. 

The Valley News community newsletter was an important asset that was already supporting community-building activity in the Valley. 

When the Valley Project started taking a community-led development approach, they used existing assets and ways of bringing people together to communicate with their community, start conversations, and get more input from the community. 


Principle 3 - Work with diverse people and sectors

Mt Roskill, a suburb in Auckland

In Mt Roskill, a May Road resident was concerned about motorists constantly braking hard outside her house, near where school children cross to the local park. She was worried a child would get hit by a car, and wanted to make the place safer for the children. 

With Roskill Together, the community-led development initiative, Rebecca went to talk to two local schools to explain her worries and understand how they felt. She also went door to door to talk to her neighbours and to find out what other residents thought about the road. Everyone agreed that a pedestrian crossing at the place where the children liked to cross was the best solution. 

After getting help and support from the Council, Police and their local MP, the residents of May Road and the local schools contacted Auckland Transport. Together they were able to advocate for a new pedestrian crossing and now children can safely cross the road to the park. 

Rebecca first heard about Roskill Together through a survey where potential champions were asked about their neighbourhood, what they loved and what they would like to see more of.  Rebecca has now joined the Roskill Together Trust board. 

Her own leadership journey has seen her move from being a passionate resident to leading and making a difference in her neighbourhood and now to becoming a board member for the Mt Roskill community-led development initiative.

Watch their video to find out more.

Principle 4 - Grow collaborative local leadership

The community in Mt Roskill has people from over 50 different cultures making it one of the most ethnically diverse suburbs in Auckland. There are people from Pacific, Indian, East and South Asian backgrounds and the leadership for this community needed to recognise this, so that everyone could feel included. 

The Mt Roskill community-led development initiative started a programme called ‘Roskill Champions’ to recognise and provide support for anyone from the neighbourhoods in the suburb to take the lead on something they felt passionate about.

Watch the video about their first project that brought a community hall back to life, and learn how the community has become self-sufficient.

Principle 5 - Learn by doing

Mangakino, a small town in the central North Island

Over a week in September 2012, the people of Mangakino and the surrounding area got together in a community dreaming exercise about what sort of community they wanted to be. They wrote down their memories of the town’s history, described the area’s strengths and potential, and discussed their wishes and hopes for the future. Many people took part, and more than 200 ideas were collected for the town’s “Dream Wall”. 

They found they wanted to have more fun at the lakefront and to swim safely. They wanted better sports, play and skating facilities in the town centre.There was also a longing for the community connection that was once built with picnics and rural events that brought local people together.

Watch the video to follow their journey.

Looking Back to Move Forward

'Looking Back to Move Forward' is a collection of thoughts about using a Community-led approach in Aotearoa. These are drawn from what was learned during the Community-led Development journeys of Mangakino, Mt Roskill, North-East Valley and Whirinaki.  You can download a copy of Looking Back to Move Forward at the link below:

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