The Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord (NZ0004)
Action Plan: New Zealand, First Action Plan, 2014-16
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Department of Internal Affairs
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Health, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Ministry of Social Development, Sport New Zealand, Te Puni Kokiri
Policy AreasCapacity Building, Public Participation
The Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord launched in 2011 provides guiding principles about how the Government and communities can work together effectively. The Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord is a commitment between the Government and communities to work together to achieve social, economic and environmental outcomes. It comprises a set of principles and expectations about how the Government and communities will work together to achieve mutual goals. These are
- we will respect Te Tiriti o Waitangi4
- we have a collective responsibility to hear and respond to the voices of all
- we will act in good faith
- our work together will be built on trust and mutual respect, and
- Nga Mahinga - putting the principles into practice.
These principles and expectations support the OGP framework for citizens, communities and governments working together.
During our consultation with stakeholders, civil society organisations suggested that further work is needed on best practice guidance or standards for civil society engagement in decision-making. This stakeholder feedback will be considered both in the context of assessing progress with the Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord in 2015 and our Action Plan.
In late 2014, the Department of Internal Affairs will begin scoping discussions with stakeholders and review overseas approaches to improve government engagement practices. In early 2015, the Department of Internal Affairs will gather evidence about the current challenges that community groups face in engaging with government. We will develop a collaborative process to seek solutions to those challenges.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
4. Review of Progress of Kia Tūtahi Accord
The Kia Tūtahi (Standing Together) Relationship Accord
Review progress of the Accord in 2015
Editorial note: This language was taken from the chart on page 5 of the national action plan.
During our consultation with stakeholders, civil society organisations suggested that further work is needed on best practice guidance for or standards for civil society engagement in decision-making. This stakeholder feedback will be considered both in the context of assessing progress with the Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord in 2015 and our Action Plan.
In late 2014, the Department of Internal Affairs will begin scoping discussion with stakeholders and review overseas approaches to improve government engagement practices. In early 2015, the Department of Internal Affairs will gather evidence about the current challenges that community groups face in engaging with government. We will develop a collaborative process to seek solutions to those challenges.
Editorial note: This language was taken from page 10 of the national action plan.
Responsible institution: Department of Internal Affairs
Supporting institution(s): Ministry of Health, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Ministry of Social Development, Sport New Zealand, Te Puni Kokiri (the “champion agencies”).
Start date:1 July 2014........... End date: 31 December 2015
The Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord contains a set of broad principles about good faith engagement agreed upon between the government and community organisations in 2011, and this commitment embodies the current every-third-year review of the accord. The accord aimed to identify examples of community engagement that worked well and those that did not, and, after that, to develop a collaborative process to implement solutions to problems uncovered. This was intended to address a perceived lack of guidance on best practices and improve community engagement. It was to be achieved through a combination of surveys of government agencies and civil society as well as research on international approaches to community engagement. This commitment aims to carry out three steps: (1) review progress of the accord, (2) gather data about local challenges, and (3) evaluate international best practices.
During the first year of New Zealand’s action plan, a government contractor, Hui E! designed and distributed surveys to gather stakeholder views on local challenges.
The government states that it considered relevant international best practices when designing the scope of the Kia Tūtahi Accord review, citing links to documents containing similar compacts in the United Kingdom[Note 41: The Compact (UK), https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/61169/The_20Compact.pdf. ] and Australia[Note 42: The National Compact, http://www.mdsi.org.au/pub/National_Compact.pdf.] as well as the Quality Assurance Standard for Community and Stakeholder Engagement.[Note 43: https://www.iap2.org.au/documents/item/391.] The government says these documents were discussed with the agency contracted to conduct the community survey, Hui E!, an umbrella group representing community organisations.[Note 44: Department of Internal Affairs, Official Information Act response to IRM researcher, 29 July 2016, 13.] However, the government did not provide evidence demonstrating how international best practices were considered; nor did the scope or conduct of the review process appear to reflect recommended best practices.
The review did not contain reference to research analysis concerning how the UK or Australian compacts were created or implemented, how the practices were relevant to New Zealand, or how the Quality Assurance Standard was related. Hui E! recalls that it raised the UK compact with the government, and discussed the Australian one, in an effort to persuade the government to reform Kia Tūtahi along similar lines (in particular, by providing funding to community groups to facilitate their engagement and commitment to producing measurable outcomes and accountability mechanisms[Note 45: See the Compact (UK), https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/61169/The_20Compact.pdf, 1.2, 1.3, 3.2, 3.4, 4.1; National Compact (Australia), http://www.mdsi.org.au/pub/National_Compact.pdf, 2–4.]). According to Hui E! staff, the government did not display interest in reforming Kia Tūtahi according to its recommendations.
Because the surveys were not received before the first year of the commitment period, the government did not take steps to develop a collaborative process to seek solutions until the second year.
End of term: substantial
The government did conduct a review of the accord. It consisted of two surveys, one of community organisations and one of government agencies, and two reports to the minister. The reports summarised the surveys and made recommendations. In light of the surveys, government agencies closely associated with the accord collaborated to consider how to make the accord more effective, and they took other steps to disseminate the lessons learned. Although it remains unclear how the research findings on international best practice were incorporated, the IRM researcher finds this commitment to be substantially complete.
Did it open government?
Civic participation: Marginal
This commitment addressed the concern that the Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord was not living up to its potential to transform the government’s engagement with community groups about important policies and decisions. As the action plan acknowledges, stakeholders familiar with the accord viewed government engagement with community groups as weak. If concrete measures were identified and implemented to give life to the accord’s commendable but vague principles, this commitment had the potential to significantly improve public participation in government laws and policies. However, because the commitment promised no more than to collaboratively seek solutions and initially gave no indication of how the survey findings might be acted upon, the IRM progress report assessed the potential impact of this commitment as minor.
Following the surveys, the government has not proposed any reform of the accord, which stakeholders suggested should include more specific promises, accountability mechanisms, and a commitment to proper resourcing of community consultations. In addition, a range of structural and design issues further undermined the potential of this commitment to genuinely improve civic participation:
• The government stated[Note 46: Department of Internal Affairs, response to official information request by IRM reviewer, 29 July 2016, 13.] the results of the surveys would be used to update its Ready Reference Engagement Guide,[Note 47: Ready Reference Engagement Guide, http://www.dia.govt.nz/Pubforms.nsf/URL/ENGAGEMENT_GUIDE_FINAL.pdf/$file/ENGAGEMENT_GUIDE_FINAL.pdf] which provides guidance to government agencies conducting community engagement. As of October 2016, it had not done so.
• Stakeholders noted that the Department of Internal Affair’s one-page summary of the review’s findings was misleading in some respects. They pointed out it overstated the level of community awareness of Kia Tūtahi, claiming it was 20 percent when the survey found only 13 percent, and they felt it emphasised the findings of good engagement while downplaying the criticisms and challenges.
• Several stakeholders said the survey of government agencies was poorly designed: the questions were too vague and relied on self-assessment of success. When survey respondents were asked whether the accord principles helped achieve social, economic, environmental, or cultural outcomes, two-thirds of respondents in each case skipped the question or said it wasn’t applicable or they didn’t know. Many commented that they had never heard of the accord.
• Stakeholders also noted that only fifteen government agencies responded, with two of the six agencies appointed as “champions” of Kia Tūtahi included among the agencies that did not respond. Nearly a third and sometimes half of respondents skipped the majority of the questions in the survey.
Overall, stakeholders felt that these flaws severely detracted from the usefulness of the survey results and hence any benefits they might provide in improving government relations with community organisations. However, the survey process itself and communication between government and CSOs represented a marginal improvement in practice of civic participation.
It is not clear whether any commitment relating to Kia Tūtahi will be carried over to the next action plan. It is not among the themes that the government raised with the Stakeholders Advisory Group.
The IRM researcher has suggested that a new and separate commitment to identifying and incorporating international and local best practice into the wording and conduct of the accord, including an accountability mechanism and a commitment to providing funding and resources where appropriate to enable community groups to properly engage with government, would be a valuable commitment for the next action plan. [Note 48: ]
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