By Pania Coote (Co-Chair Tangata Whenua) and Sandy Thompson (Co-Chair Tangata Tiriti)

It has certainly been a challenging year for Hui E! Community Aotearoa as we adapted and adjusted through a global pandemic, transitioned our leadership at both board and management level, and worked hard to build the ongoing sustainability of our organisation.

The importance of a resilient civil society

What has become very evident for Aotearoa New Zealand in our journey to build a strong civil society is that the tangata whenua, community and voluntary sector continues to struggle to be recognised and valued for our fair share. We’ve been drawn into arguing our worth through data and numbers – how many people we help, how many volunteers we have, our equivalent contribution to Gross Domestic Product.

But how can you put a price on something that’s priceless? This is at the core of our current, shared dilemma.

The sector’s response to COVID-19

We have joined with community organisations and contributed to providing invaluable support to our communities through our national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve collectively supported our communities to remain connected, to get well, to stay well, and to answer the call to unite and be kind.

More than ever, our experience during the pandemic proves there is a role for Hui E! as a peak body to help community organisations get the capability and capacity support they need, to broker relationships within the sector and across other sectors, to advocate for systems change, and to galvanize public and funding support.

As we have learned, a valuable outcome depends less on experts and pre-set beliefs on how things should be done and more on the trust, openness and courage of good people ready and willing to open themselves up for reflection, critique and change.

Embedding a treaty-based governance model

Over the coming year, our board will focus on developing our two-house Tangata Whenua/ Tangata Tiriti co-working model. We believe that Hui E! can act as a thought leader for change in other groups in our sector, which will open the way for more fundamental change across the wider sector.

As Co-Chairs, we are representative of Hui E!’s journey, where there is no template for what we are creating and no prescription. Our journey must, by definition, be one of exploration and creation to create something that is original and unique to our organisation. This is intentional.

We hope, through our journey over the next two to three years, to gain insight and wisdom that inspires and guides other groups in our sector to create their own treaty-based solutions.

Moving forward in a COVID-19 world

In recent months, since the end of Level 4 lockdown, we’ve turned our thoughts to living life with COVID-19, and what that means for the ‘new normal’. Our thoughts have turned to recovery and long-term sustainability, for our organisation and for the sector as a whole.

It is vital that we are proactive to be front and centre in consultation when both the government and the philanthropic sector are making their decisions. Hui E! has committed to do this alongside other core stakeholders.

To funders and government, we ask you to involve us, use our connections, harvest all that we know. Embrace our diverse views!

Our message to funders

As we conclude, we offer appreciative thanks to the Community Leadership Fund, Hapori Whakatipi, which supports our core work through multi-year funding.

Warm thanks also go to the Lottery Grants Board and Todd Foundation for additional funding support this year. Expanding our resourcing will be a core focus over the coming year to enable us to do more.

Our message to Hui E! board and staff

We were pleased to have Sandy step up from her board member role to take over as Co-Chair, Tangata Tiriti, from Simon Cayley who stood down at the start of the financial year. We also said farewell to our Kaiwhakahaere Matua, Anaru Fraser, in July 2019. We say aroha ana and hei konā rā to Simon for his years of service with Hui E! as inaugural Chair and Anaru as General Manager.

We want to acknowledge the contributions of our two new board members, Sarah Doherty and Iris Pahau. And we thank Dorte and Charlie for their continued contributions to the oversight and development of Hui E! and for helping create the healthy organisation we have today.

And of course we continue to appreciate the outstanding mahi of our operational staff, Rochelle Stewart-Allen and Ronja Ievers, who have worked tirelessly this year to keep our organisation functioning and continuing to meet the needs of our tangata whenua, community and voluntary sector. Ka rawe!

Read more about our year in review through our Hui E! Annual Report 2019-2020.