Reframing the ecosystem: how targeting the needs of the whole community can reshape the approach to indigenous development

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

This seminar will present a case study about the Ruapehu Whānau Transformation Project (RWT), based in the rural interior of the North Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand). The RWT began as an iwi-focused project. Over six years later it has become an exemplar of whole-of-community development, led by a local iwi, utilising collective impact and design thinking to regenerate three small towns (Ohakune, Raetihi and Waiouru). The approach was based on the idea that the ecosystem (the social and political systems) needed to change in order for iwi development to occur and be sustainable within the broader community. Further, the iwi decided that they needed to lead the programme in order for their aspirations to be included in broader community development.

This seminar will explain how the programme used a collaborative approach to development in a way that provided space for local iwi, their values and development priorities, while also working toward broader community aspirations (including non-Māori residents). The seminar will also highlight some of the reasons for the approach and design – for example, the focus on the whole community rather than just the iwi; behavioural insights; and utilising rangatakapu (emerging leaders) as catalysts to create change.

RWT is one case study within Jonathan’s PhD study in the intersection between complexity and indigenous development. The study is particularly interested in how indigenous organisations deal with complex dynamics in their communities.

Jonathan Kilgour (MBA(Dist), LLM(Hons), BSocSc) is of Rereahu and Ngā Rauru descent. Jonathan is a PhD candidate at CAEPR at the Australian National University, a Research Fellow with the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis at the University of Waikato, and a Senior Researcher with Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development, a tribal post-graduate College in Aotearoa. Jonathan worked in strategic, monitoring and evaluation roles in New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, Statistics New Zealand and Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development). He has also had governance and management roles in Māori organisations, and represented the University of Waikato as an ambassador to the International Association of MBAs.