People powered stories for May 2019

9 min readMay 27, 2019


We helped secure a $320m increase to sexual health services and support for survivors!

Laura and Kassie with Conor Twyford Chief Executive of Wellington Sexual Abuse (HELP) delivering our petition to MP Marama Davidson.

Last Sunday, the government announced the largest ever single investment in preventing sexual and domestic violence and support for survivors.

$131 million will go towards expanding specialist sexual violence services as part of a move towards full funding. You can read more about what’s included in the package here.

This has been a long time coming. It is the result of years of passionate and dedicated campaigning from those on the front line.

Over the last 18 months, members of the ActionStation community have helped to amplify the call for more funding with an open letter on the front page of the Weekend Herald, petitions, and even a giant billboard on Parliament lawn.

The announcement came just weeks after we launched our report: ‘For the Wellbeing of New Zealanders: An urgent call for full funding for sexual violence prevention and support services’.

You can read it in full here, or the executive summary here.

We launched the report at a press conference — funded and powered by ActionStation members — which helped create waves in the media with coverage from 1 News, Breakfast, Radio Waatea, The Dominion Post, Māori TV and Te Karere.

It’s often difficult to get coverage on TV for a report, so four televised pieces is particularly great. More than 550,000 people tune into 1News each night.

The report recommends the government:

  1. Make a significant increase in funding in Budget 2019 for sexual violence prevention, intervention and survivor support services;
  2. Empower primary, secondary, and ECE schools to become consent champions;
  3. Make Kaupapa Māori specialist services available across Aotearoa;
  4. Ensure everyone has access to culturally appropriate and accessible services;
  5. Make sure everyone who has caused sexual harm or is worried they could, can get the help they need.

It’s a relief the government has adopted the first recommendation. This is an important start to ending violence in Aotearoa.

Lauren is leading the charge for cohesive and consistent healthy relationships, sexuality and sex education in schools.

Lauren and Laura at select committee

Our Director Laura went along to select committee last Wednesday to support Lauren in making a submission for better sex, healthy relationships and sexuality education in all schools.⁣

Select committees are a group of MPs from across different parties who are tasked with hearing from the public and doing research on various kaupapa (subjects, causes, issues) then making recommendations to government.⁣

After Lauren made her presentation (which you can watch in full here) MPs from the Greens, NZ First, National and Labour were all in broad agreement about the need for consent education to be consistent and cohesive.

Lauren was 17 when she started her petition with ActionStation. Last week she got to take her message directly to decision makers and she did an amazing job. We were stoked to tautoko (support).

We helped make New Zealand safer by changing our gun laws for good.

Within days of the horrific attack on Muslims praying in Ōtautahi (Christchurch), 70,000 of us signed petitions for a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

When the Prime Minister announced a proposal to change our gun laws, 7,600 of us then made submissions in support and called for the bill to go further.

Within six weeks of the attack, Parliament passed a law banning semi-automatic weapons by 119 votes to one.

The video above is the story of how tens of thousands of us took swift, decisive and collective action to ensure our gun laws were changed for good.

We’re working together to give all children the best start in life.

At the beginning of the month, the Labour-led coalition was presented with a blueprint to inject compassion back into our welfare system.

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s (WEAG) report outlines 42 key recommendations that could lift families across New Zealand out of poverty.

The ActionStation community worked together with Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) to influence the WEAG recommendations and we’re proud of the result.

Sadly, the government has only implemented three of the recommendations so far, and only one will come into effect this political term. We know they can do better, and we know we deserve better.

The ActionStation staff team are having conversations with The Workshop, CPAG, Auckland Action Against Poverty, FinCap, NZ Christian Council Social Services, and others to develop a powerful and coordinated strategy to embolden the Government to deliver on their promise of kinder, fairer welfare system.

You can join the movement and ensure you receive updates by signing our petition with CPAG here.

We’re training an army of people who spread love and light in the face of racist hate.

Our Wellington volunteers

In April, 50 Tauiwi (non-Māori) volunteers gathered in Wellington and Auckland to learn new skills to build an inclusive New Zealand.

Tauiwi Tautoko is a 10 week program that weaves together online training and in-person hui (gatherings) for volunteers to learn the skills to have online conversations that challenge racism toward Māori and people from refugee backgrounds with evidence-based listening and messaging techniques.

Our Auckland volunteers

Every day the volunteers work together in the comments sections to inject aroha (love) and compassion, and to model a better way of interacting with one another in the digital age.

If you are interested in learning how to be a more effective ally, and in doing so finding a community of like-minded people to share the work with, you can apply for the next course now.

We’re calling for the government to prevent and end online hate.

Golriz, Marianne and Laura at Bowen House discussing digital threats and opportunities to democracy

Our Director Laura and ActionStation co-founder Marianne Elliott delivered a 5,000-strong petition, to Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman, calling for the government to take decisive action to prevent and end online hate, harassment and abuse.

ActionStation members crowdfunded independent polling which showed 86% of New Zealanders support the government doing more to regulate social media companies to keep people safe online. We published the results with the NZ Herald to help strengthen our call.

In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks a new global momentum has emerged around the role that social media has played in the spread of violent extremism and terrorism, and what can be done to stop it. The New Zealand government has, rightly, stepped up to play a leadership role in that work.

What we need now is a clear analysis of the threats, opportunities and challenges to inform our policy choices. For the best reading on this, check out The Workshop’s new and comprehensive report: Digital Democracy

We’re backing the campaign to save Foulden Maar

Foulden Maar is a 23-million year old volcanic crater in inland Otago that is a treasure trove of fossils.

Right now it is under threat from Australian mining company Plaman Resources who want to destroy the site to take up to 500,000 tonnes of diatomite to sell as animal feed.

The group Save Foulden Maar has launched a campaign to persuade the government to reject Plaman’s application. Eventually, they want the Government to purchase the land and declare the maar a scientific reserve so it is legally protected.

You can sign Kimberley’s petition to protect Foulden Maar here.

We’re supporting dentist Dr Assil Russell to make dental care available to all.

Dentist Dr Assil Russeell smiling and holding toothbrush, looking at the camera from point of view of a patient in a dentist’s chair.

Assil Russell came to New Zealand at the age of five, after emigrating from Iraq with her parents and her brother.

In 2010, while still at dental school at the University of Otago, she founded the Iraqi Children’s Aid and Repair Endeavour (ICARE), the only New Zealand registered medical and dental charity for Iraqi orphans. Two years later came Revive A Smile, which provides dental treatment to Hamilton’s homeless and disadvantaged people.

Assil is delivering her petition for affordable dental care for all New Zealanders to her local MP in Hamilton. Will you help her reach 10,000 signatures?

If you’ve signed already you can help by sharing on Facebook or Twitter.

We’re standing with Torres Strait Islanders demanding climate justice.

The Torres Strait, off the northern tip of Queensland, Australia, is home to one of the world’s oldest living cultures and a pristine wilderness region. It contains the most northerly part of the Great Barrier Reef as well as rare species such as endangered turtles and dugongs.

Right now, climate breakdown is putting life for the people on the islands of the Torres Strait at risk. Rising seas are already threatening their homes, damaging burial grounds and sacred cultural sites.

In response Torres Strait Islanders are taking a world-first legal case against the Australian government to the United Nations for their inaction on climate change.

You can add your voice to the #OurIslandsOurHome campaign here.

Young people are rising up to stop rising sea levels.

Photo of young people on strike, one holding a sign that says, “I want a hot date, not a hot planet”

On Friday, thousands of young (and young-at-heart) people took to the streets for bold, brave and necessary change for a safe climate future.

Climate breakdown can sound really frightening, but in truth by decarbonising our economy, we will create more time for doing the things we love, with the people we love, in the nature we love. It will mean working less and sharing more. Driving less and cycling more. Polluting less and planting more.

A shift away from our consumer culture to re-invigorating community will mean we get to spend more time gardening, cooking, learning, reading, sharing, laughing, dancing, and singing together instead of spending hours on social media, or money on things we don’t need, for connection and validation.

It will mean paying the people who work in low-carbon jobs such as caregiving, teaching, nursing, healing, and restoration generously instead of bankers, polluters and corporate billionaires extracting all the wealth from the rest of us and our Earth.

We can create a green and beautiful future, we just need to have the courage to take action, and our young people are showing us the way.

Sign their open letter here.

We’re making big plans for the next 18 months.

Lastly, the ActionStation staff team had the honour and privilege of hosting the incredible Moana Jackson at our recent strategic team planning hui. He spoke to us about the power of imagination, constitutional transformation, and collective action.

We also made big plans for unleashing the power of the ActionStation community through more trainings, workshops and community organising. We talked about how we can work together to elect more councillors who put the health of our rivers, forests and lakes first in the upcoming local elections, and how we can build truly inclusive and diverse communities in the face of increasing polarisation in our world.

We’re so excited to share the next chapter of work with you, Eliot.

Together we are a mighty force.

Ngā manaakitanga (Take care),

Eliot, Kassie, Laura, Madeleine, Ann, (our guest Moana), Ruby, Yvonne and Franklin (the dog) — your ActionStation team.

Eliot, Kassie, Laura, Madeleine, Ann, (our guest Moana), Ruby, Yvonne and Franklin (the dog) — your ActionStation team.

P.S. We are looking for a part-time developer to help us leverage digital technology for economic, social, environmental and racial justice. Is this you? Is it someone you know? Please share the ad with anyone who may be interested.




Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.