Online Community Forums the way forward

Publish Date : 25 Nov 2021
Community Forum Nov 2022

Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board holds a Community Forum every month, an informal get-together where local groups and individuals meet with their elected members to discuss topical issues.

During the COVID-19 lockdown months, these forums moved online, and each forum was given a relevant theme on which local subject matter experts were invited to lead the conversations.

Since the change, attendee numbers have skyrocketed and the local board is keen to keep the momentum going. 

Maria Meredith, Chair of the local board is a fan of the new format, “Perhaps we have discovered the best method of meeting with our community, by holding these events online more people are able to ‘attend’ rather than needing to rush out to get to a local venue, and by being topic based rather than area focused we are capturing higher levels of interest.”

“These forums have always been a great sounding board for varied and honest discussions, which are helpful to inform the local boards advocacy and budgetary decisions.” 

Engagement Advisor for the local board Tracey Freeman has a range of topics planned for the coming year but does invite ideas and speaker options.  “These will eventually become community-led and elected members will simply attend to provide information and seek community input.  It would be great to see, for example, students lead a student issues forum, and the elder members of the community leading an accessibility discussion.”

“To hear directly from the community so that they can help guide them and help them make informed decisions. As well as provide agency to youth towards shaping their communities.”

The November forum topic was 'The challenges our young people are facing, with reference to the current COVID-19 lockdown'.  Over 40 people attended this forum and eight local youth or youth-focused groups presented. 

Maria explains that “The information that was shared during this meeting was incredibly informative, we have a better understanding of the challenges met by this segment of our community during lockdown. We will certainly be keeping some of those in mind come budgetary decisions, and grant requests.” 

“Technology was a big element of the conversation and identified need. Of the many ideas that was brought up during the forum was a request for more outdoor cover in communal spaces as people increasingly meet outdoors now, which we thought was a really relevant idea, so watch this space.”

These events are also aimed to foster stronger relationships between local groups and increase connections throughout the community. 

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