Another month has flown by, so why not take some time to pause and reflect on all of the amazing people-powered campaigning for positive change from the past six weeks:

More than 1,700 ActionStation members contributed their whakaaro (thoughts) about how to enhance local democracy

These local elections our community got behind some of the young independent candidates looking to shake up councils and advocate for people, planet and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 15 of the 40 candidates we profiled are now councillors and looking forward to their new roles and challenges.

Sophie Handford, one of the leaders of the School Strike 4 Climate movement, is now one of the country’s youngest councillors, for Kapiti District Council and will be focussing on councils’ approach to climate and ending youth homelessness. In Wellington, Tamatha Paul has picked up the climate portfolio and is excited to bring an indigenous lens to this work.

We’re amped to see what these councillors do, and will continue to support them to make a positive impact for people and planet.

Over the past two weeks, 1,731 members of the ActionStation community have also taken part in our survey on local democracy. Folks spent 20 minutes on average completing the survey which means that collectively we’ve contributed more than 500 hours of brainpower!

The most popular ideas to remove barriers to voting and running better elections were:

  • Simplifying the voting system for local government;
  • Publicly funding elections to keep the influence of big money out of politics;
  • Giving the Electoral Commission resourcing and responsibility to increase voter turnout at local elections; and
  • Voting booths and events where people can enrol and vote at the same time at e.g. malls, night markets, and supermarkets.

More than 1,000 of us wanted to see councils and councillors using digital tools more effectively to engage citizens in decision-making. 805 people said they would attend a café or community meeting held by a local councillor or community board member, and 728 people said they will meet their mayor or councillors to discuss issues of importance to the ActionStation community.

The top four issues the ActionStation community are wanting to see action on were:

🏠 Affordable housing for all.

♻️ Recycling systems that divert waste from landfill and create local jobs.

🚌 Affordable, timely and accessible public transport.

️🏞 Clean rivers and water.

Next, we will send these results to every council in the country, alongside an offer for ActionStation to coordinate greater connection between councillors and citizens through the use of digital tools and community meetings.

If you would like to make a koha (donation) to help us continue in this mahi (work), please do so here.

More than 1,300 of us made a powerful joint submission on healthy water and rivers

Last month over 1,300 ActionStation members took part in our community submission to the Ministry for the Environment. You can read it here: ActionStation’s community-powered submission on ‘Action for healthy waterways’.

With the support of our friends at Choose Clean Water, we advocated for 11 recommendations to strengthen the Government’s freshwater action plan. These recommendations include improved standards for swimming, better measures of ecosystem health, stronger protection for wetlands, a ban on converting land to dairy farming while regional plans are being developed, and the setting up of a new commission that has responsibility for oversight of regional councils for implementing these policies.

ActionStation community members’ personal stories were powerful in advocating for stronger rules.

“Healthy waterways are completely essential for the wellbeing of ecosystems both on land and in the sea. Human beings rely on these ecosystems for our survival. By the time my daughter is old enough to understand this, I want us to be making real progress as a country towards cleaning up our waterways. Water is life.” — Rata, 32 year old mum of one

“As a child I grew up in a whānau whose dad, uncles and koro worked on the Waikato river dredging sand. We swam in the same river, ate whitebait and mullet fished from it and enjoyed the benefits therein.

Today that same river is so polluted I doubt I would ever allow my granddaughters to swim in it, let alone eat anything from within its depths.” — Selina, 60 year old grandmother

We’re working together for healthy awa (rivers), but we know there will be furious lobbying behind the scenes and there is a risk that under pressure from corporate interests the action plan will be weakened before becoming law. We’ll be working with Choose Clean Water to find the best chance to support the plan and we’ll be in touch with the next opportunity for action.

If you’d like to help us keep the momentum going over the summer, please donate here.

A coalition of Pasifika, Māori, Pākehā and Muslim people launched a campaign to keep our communities free of weapons

For many of us, when we imagine a safe place that feels like home, we picture communities connecting across generations and backgrounds, neighbourhood kids playing on cul-de-sac streets, and well-cared for public gardens, beaches, and parks for people to enjoy.

What we don’t picture is police patrolling the streets with guns.

When Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced a trial of groups of police in blacked-out SUVs roaming communities with guns, Lou, Josiah, Melissa and Guled (above) sprung into action. They reached out to ActionStation and started a petition calling for Jacinda Ardern and Police Minister Stuart Nash to stop the use of militarised police.

There has been an incredible wave of people-powered action since then. More than 8,000 of us have signed their petition, and in South Auckland, dozens of residents turned out to rally for their community. Researchers, mothers, a former police officer, and justice reform advocates have written powerful media stories calling for the police to put down their guns.

In 2015, Commissioner Bush admitted the police hold “unconscious racial bias” towards people of colour. They are nearly eight times as likely to use violence against Māori than Pākehā, and three times as likely to use violence against Pasifika people than Pākehā.

Mike Bush tried to use what happened on March 15 as a reason for the militarisation of police. But as Guled, Lou, Josiah, and Melissa say on the petition page:

“Across Aotearoa we saw people in community vigils singing waiata together for comfort, flowers being laid outside Mosques, and aroha being shown in so many ways including changing some laws. These actions showed us countering terror by strengthening our social connection. In these moments we showed our humanity and that in our communities we all wish to thrive.

When we picture flourishing communities, we see families with great homes, enough pūtea (money) to put food on the table, and time to spend with each other. We see support readily available for hard times, and people celebrating together in good ones.

We don’t see more police presence with more weapons.”

Sign the petition now to call for police to put down their guns.

Hundreds of us are writing incredible heartfelt letters urging the government to fix poverty in Aotearoa

As a community, we are determined to make sure everyone in New Zealand has enough income to thrive.

Since we launched our letter writing tool last week, hundreds of people have written powerful letters to politicians with the power to address our skyrocketing poverty crisis by increasing income support.

We’ve been blown away by the thoughtfulness, passion and aroha (love, breath of god) people have been pouring into these letters;

“Good, respectful and healthy communities start in the home. Te Papa Kainga. Te Whānau. If things are good at home, in the home, in the family, then things will be good in the community.

By good I mean; the basics of daily needs are taken care of — a roof over your head, somewhere to call home, having kai, being able to purchase clothing, health and hygiene product and services, having healthy parents that are not always struggling under poverty to provide for their children and households. These all the basics of needs that every home and family should have here in Aotearoa New Zealand.” — Julie

“I’m working at a Budgeting service these days and see the impact of low wages and miserly benefits on families. Lifting children out of poverty involves giving families the dignity of a decent income so they can provide for their children. Yes, we need mental health and wellbeing services too. But the constant stress of being a fine, a dental bill or a car repair bill away from slipping off the edge is destructive for parents and their children. They just cannot thrive.” — Kate

Will you also write a letter and join the call for a compassionate welfare system that provides adequate support for everyone to live good lives?

Between the 8,000 members of our community who signed the petition to fix our welfare system, the trained volunteers who visited their MPs, the people who shared their stories in the media, the letter writers and those who volunteered to help us fold and send them, we are demonstrating that looking after each other is a priority for people across the country.

Thousands of us are supporting love in the Cook Islands

Sonya Apa Temata is a Cook Island Māori Tahitian born in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is also takatāpui (a person who does not sit inside the socially constructed ideas of gender and sexuality), so when she heard the news that the Cook Islands, under pressure from church leaders, weren’t going to decriminalise homosexuality, she launched a petition on our community platform OurActionStation. As Sonya says in her petition,

“It is important to acknowledge the historical influences and devastating impact of colonisation and early settlements by missionaries and its impact on indigenous knowledge and understandings of gender, sex and sexuality, and how this has shaped broad social attitudes and norms in Aotearoa and across Te Moana Nui o Kiva.

The Cook Islands is one of several Pacific nations, which, still criminalise same-sex relations between men and offer no human rights protections to those who are widely ostracized and often discriminated by their families and communities. For many across Oceania, these nations cling to anti-gay laws enacted under colonial rule and the influence of conservative Christian missionaries.”

Sonya will be submitting her petition to select committee in the Cook Islands. You can sign and show your support here.

Hundreds of us are writing emails to help save the Māui dolphins

Hector’s and Māui dolphins are animals unique to New Zealand. They live close to the coast, making human activities such as fishing especially risky for them. Most non-natural deaths of Maui dolphins are caused by entanglement and drowning in gillnet or trawl fishing.

There are only about 60 individual Māui surviving and around 15,000 Hector’s. Latest studies show they are active in the Taranaki area even when they aren’t usually seen from boats.

Over the last four months conservation groups such as WWF, Greenpeace and World Animal Protection New Zealand have gathered supporters to speak up for the Māui and Hector’s dolphins. Thousands of people have asked the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries to put in place stronger laws as they update the Threat Management Plan for the dolphins. This plan is meant to protect them and reverse the population decline but is not currently working.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation are inviting ActionStation members and the public to join the call for action for Māui and Hectors to flourish.

Send an email to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today asking her government to protect Maui and Hector’s dolphins and help their populations to recover.

This barbershop movement supports men to heal from their traumatic past so they can help heal others

The ‘She Is Not Your Rehab’ movement has been making the rounds on social media as their kaupapa (cause, issue) has resonated with so many. The movement was started by men from Christchurch barbershop My Father’s Barbers, and is known as a place where men go to heal and to deal with their childhood pain and abuse. Their mahi is about empowering men to address domestic violence by healing from past traumas through honest conversations.

You can learn more about them from owner and founder Matt Brown in his TEDx talk here.

Over the next 12 months, the ActionStation staff team will be narrowing our focus to five core areas of work that sit alongside our work to support community campaigners to enact change with digital tools, campaign guidance, training and coaching.

The issues we’ve chosen are based on your feedback through our local election survey and the issues our team and collaborators have identified time and again as needed to be front and centre in the lead up to the election;

🏠 Affordable, warm, dry homes for all.

💸 A liveable income for all, including those on income support.

🌏 Clean water, healthy rivers and climate action.

✅ Decarceration: Moving toward a 2040 without prisons and only wellness centres.

👏🏽 Devolution: The Crown sharing power and resources equitably with iwi, hapū and Māori so that we may live into the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We will also be putting energy, effort and time into fostering cross-culture and class solidarity and kinship, plus working hard to break society’s ceiling of imagination so that we may dream and build a better future together. This includes developing a video with JustSpeak that describes how we will get to a 2040 with no prisons, modelled on the viral video ‘A message from the future’ created by Naomi Klein and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. For more on imagining a world without prisons, check out Director of JustSpeak Tania Sawicki-Mead’s TEDx talk here.

This renewed focus also includes working with communities impacted and potentially impacted by gentrification, community housing providers and others to make significant investment in increased public housing a must-have policy for any party who wants to win the election in 2020.

If you would like to support this work by becoming a regular donor, we’d appreciate it and you can do so here.

If you already give regularly to ActionStation, thank you, thank you, thank you. Regular gifts enable us to plan, budget and campaign more effectively. Earlier this week, a member of the ActionStation community came to our coworking space in Wellington to drop off $300 as she doesn’t do online donations. It’s these acts of generosity that give us the fuel and fire to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

We work together to create a society where people and planet are more important than profit and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured.