Volunteer for the Tauiwi Tautoko volunteer project

Project overview

8 min readAug 7, 2018

ActionStation believes in a compassionate, just, inclusive, diverse and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand. But unfortunately there are systemic barriers in place that are undermining this vision.

Image: Hundreds marching with a large banner in front saying ‘honour the Treaty’.

In January 2018, complaints of racism to the Human Rights Commission hit a five year high while complaints about racism in schools emerged from a Children’s Commissioner study involving 1700 Kiwi children. According to research by Dr Raymond Nairn, most media coverage of Māori “reinforces racist attitudes”. And in May 2018, a new study revealed institutional racism was one of the leading causes for increased rheumatic fever rates in Māori children compared with Pākehā.

This systemic discrimination significantly contributes to Māori people being over-represented in almost every negative statistic. It’s also a huge factor as to why Māori people vote in fewer numbers than Pākehā, which in turn, leads to less representation.

Over the next three years (and beyond), ActionStation will run campaigns that tackle structural racism; holds political, cultural and corporate leaders to account for the things they say and do on race; and strengthens the political voice of Māori.

The ActionStation community is a deliberately broad tent of fair-minded people who want to get things done. It’s our shared values (equality and fairness, manaakitanga, aroha, community and belonging, love of nature), plus a willingness to act, that makes someone an ‘ActionStation kind of person’. Not age, income, postcode, party politics or ethnic background.

Because of that, we are well-placed to do this work. According to our most recent member survey, 10 percent of our members whakapapa Māori. This is just five percent below the national population and our goal is to be over-represented at 20 percent by 2020.

Project goal

ActionStation will build a volunteer network of tauiwi (non-Māori) who take effective action as Treaty partners to protect and advance Māori interests and Tiriti o Waitangi, and reverse negative racial stereotypes by offering an alternative narrative.

Specifically, volunteers will

  • Educate others about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and New Zealand history;
  • Defend the rights of Māori in online spaces (particularly comments sections);
  • Challenge racial stereotypes and invite healing conversations between Māori and non-Māori.
Some of the lovely messages in the ActionStation inbox one morning in response to Laura’s email about why she chose to go on the Māori Roll. Messages include things like, “the term Pākehā is offensive” or “Māori seats are racist” or “if Māori got out of jail, they’d do a better job”.

We have a theory that most people don’t feel the same way as negative and toxic commenters on the internet do, but it’s hard to jump in and defend issues we care about for fear of being targeted with toxicity ourselves. This network of volunteers’ job is to fight casual and outright racism by injecting light and love into online spaces.

ActionStation will provide the training, members of our community will provide the energy to challenge online hate, together we’ll have the community to keep going.

How we will interact with people online

  • We will listen before we try and impart knowledge
  • We will ask questions and approach everyone with curiosity and open heartedness
  • We will not be defensive but we will recognise the reason behind other people’s defensiveness ( lead with aroha and care for the person and see their whakapapa)
  • We will look for common ground and try to have conversations there
  • We are aware of our own privilege and power
  • Our target audience is people who agree or are neutral and moving them to stronger positions of action and solidarity. Our audience is not the people who disagree completely. Think about the people reading the comments section rather than the spouters of hate. It’s about bringing back some balance.
  • Our work is not about fact-checking or myth-busting (which is known through research to have the opposite effect)
  • We agree to “pick our battles” (e.g. end a conversation if no common ground is found after five comments back and forth
  • We embrace discomfort and support one another in moving through it
  • We will call each other into conversations when and where we need support and we will show up for one another
  • We will share our own stories / journeys with Te Tiriti and race relations if we feel comfortable enough to do so
  • We are not experts but we will take control of our learning and learn about NZ history, Tiriti, colonisation and our role in it
  • We will be unafraid to admit when we don’t know things in certain areas
  • We do not promote the idea that there is one Māori worldview and we encourage people to listen to a wider variety of Māori perspectives
  • We will call out the media when they represent Māori and Māori worldviews in a negative light (using the 14 myths in media about Māori as the basis)
  • We will document our process and progress in order to create resources for others
  • We commit to iterating and learning continually as we go
  • We will be strategic in where we have our conversations in order to reach the most people
  • We will speak to the values and vision of Te Ira Tāngata as much as we can to demonstrate our alternative vision for our shared future

What are the different roles?

There are four key roles. People can hold more than one role at any given time, and they can also change roles as time progresses. The purposes of the role are to give people different avenues to contribute to the overall project in a way that suits them. The roles and estimated time commitments are by no means concrete, and will evolve as the project goes on.

Frontline listeners/educators

These are the people without whom nothing would happen!

The people on the front-line inject light into otherwise damaging or negative conversations as a way to replace the narratives put forth by those who perpetuate racial stereotypes, undermine Māori rights and the Treaty.

The role of the frontliner is to make online spaces safer for people wanting to engage in the online public square, and to replace a toxic narrative of hate with one of patience, compassion, empathy and understanding.

Frontliners are not there to win arguments!

It is essential that it is enjoyable to be part of this and we encourage volunteers to only participate when they feel able, and to work together in teams. This is also an issue of safety in numbers to avoid targeting.

Google doc wizards

These are the people who look after our processes and ensure our Google Folder and Shared Drive are in order. They help capture learnings and feedback of outgoing volunteers.

The Google Doc Wizards and ActionStation staffers are the ‘Owners’ of the shared Google Docs and it is their job to check and update the documents with any suggested edits that the team may add after seeing what has worked and what hasn’t for them.

The Google Doc Wizards also ensure we are documenting our learning in a way that would make it useful for someone wanting to replicate our work. ActionStation hopes to scale this work up nationwide, so your role is essential to helping the network grow!


These are the people who with the help of the Google Doc Wizards capture the learnings from this experience and create resources to make it open-source. You write blogs about the project and help campaign staff present the information in a way that’s useful for others (e.g. advocacy groups, policy researchers)

Media Monitors

These are the people who keep an eye on social media and news media outlets. They alert the frontline team to problematic conversations and articles online. They are people for whom keeping an eye on the news constantly is not tiresome and stressful, but interesting and challenging (in a good way)!

You will also capture articles and blogs in a spreadsheet that are mis/dis and mal-information. This helps us track the deliberate spread of online hate speech and informs our wider research work in this area.

How much time do people need to contribute?

The commitment for this project is roughly from 25 August to 27 October.

The expected hours for educators / listeners:

  • 8 hours for first hui
  • 1 hour per week on ongoing training and support sessions online or in real life ( = 8 hours)
  • 5 hours of reading / watching content / upskilling in your own time
  • 4–8 hours per month (e.g. 1–2 hours per week) of online conversations and frontline work ( = 8–16 hours)
  • 4 hours of journaling — screenshots of conversations that went well and badly, persistent myths, learnings of what works and doesn’t, own perception of how interactions are going (e.g. 30 mins per week)
  • 6 hours for last hui
  • TOTAL = 36–48 over two months

The expected hours for Media Monitors:

  • 8 hours for first hui
  • 4–8 hours per month (e.g. 1–2 hours per week) of sourcing relevant online content
  • 30 mins per week capturing the links in a spreadsheet
  • 1 hour per week on ongoing training and support sessions online or in real life (= 8 hours)
  • 6 hours for last hui
  • TOTAL = 30–34 hours over two months

The expected hours for Researchers/Writers/Evaluators:

  • 8 hours for first hui
  • 4 hours per month writing content e.g blog post
  • 1 hour per week on ongoing training and support sessions online or in real life ( = 8 hours)
  • 6 hours for last hui
  • TOTAL = 30 hours over two months (the work may be concentrated toward the end of the project and/or extend after to ensure sufficient data for analysis/writing)

The expected hours for Google doc wizards:

  • 8 hours for first hui
  • 4 hours per month organising data
  • 1 hour per week on ongoing training and support sessions online or in real life (= 8 hours)
  • 6 hours for last hui
  • TOTAL = 30 hours over two months

As part of our Tauiwi Tautoko team, you will receive training as well as mentoring and general support.

We are planning a training hui at the start of the 2 months and a retrospective hui at the end of the project.

Hui 1: Saturday August 25 9.30 to 4.30

Hui 2 : Saturday October 27 10 to 3.00

Both hui will be at Innermost Gardens, Mt Vic

The first hui will be a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and build relationships. There will be training workshops to help you build your knowledge in this area.

As you would expect apart from doing the work, attendance of the hui is fairly essential to the project.

After the hui we will likely have a fortnightly group meeting in person to discuss our experiences and findings. In the off week we might schedule an online session with a mentor or a training webinar. To be discussed at the hui.

Reading in advance of the first hui:

Topics likely to be covered in the hui or webinars:

  • Background to this project
  • What it means to be a good Treaty partner
  • Lived experience of online harassment/abuse
  • A brief overview of NZ history as it relates to Tiriti, colonisation and its impacts
  • Listening techniques
  • Values based messaging

Please let us know if there is something else we can cover that will assist you in your work, there will also be opportunities to shape the agenda over the eight week programme.

If you are keen to get onboard please go here to apply.

Feel free to share this info with friends you think might be interested in participating.




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