2019-2020 Chair Report - Dave Hursthouse
Kia ora e te whānau whānui o Permaculture in New Zealand!
What an awe-inspiring year 2020 has been so far. We are living in times that so many of us have been expecting and preparing for over many, many years. Bushfires unprecedented in living memory, orange skies, and the crippling of global economics - to name a few of this years’ most intriguing events. It is in these times and those to come that the kaupapa of Earth Care and People Care becomes increasingly important, and the skills and knowledge we hold as a community of Permaculturalists can be applied to the uplifting of our communities.
As we’re all hunkering down in our bubbles, faced with the upheaval of society as we’ve known it, the activities of the PiNZ Council over the last year may seem small and insignificant by comparison. However, it is the time of year for reports and AGMs!
So, we’ve all been swept up and flipped around by this biological change agent. What next? As these first few weeks of ‘lockdown’ settle and pass, I’m sure many of us are thinking about the future. What will happen to our communities as we emerge from our bubbles into severe economic recession and social instability? Has this triggered a phase shift? What will grow in the wake of this disturbance? How will we contribute to the social, economic and ecological regeneration that this time calls for?
While as a Council we haven’t figured anything out yet, we would like to do all we can to support the efforts of Permaculturalists around Aotearoa as you all respond to the needs of your communities. I write this as a reminder that Permaculture in New Zealand has collaborative resources available to us. We have the website - where we can share our activities, our needs, and our resources. We have the ever-active Facebook page. We have our quarterly Newsletter. And we have an enormous database of active Permaculturalists. We have each other.
As we move forward in these uncertain times, remember that collaboration will be the mycelium that holds all our regenerative activities together. If you have ideas, questions, or requests for support, consider utilising the digital infrastructure that PiNZ has available to support your efforts. He waka eke noa - we’re all in this together.
Hui & AGM
As you will know, the Annual Permaculture Hui has been postponed indefinitely this year due to COVID-19. This event was due to be hosted at Te Ao Hou Marae in Whanganui in late April, and was shaping up to be a beautiful event.
I would like to thank Geoff Hipango, Melinda Hatherly, Fiona Moorhouse, Lillee Star, Mahinga Williams, Lee Williams, Shane Middlemiss, Ron Fisher and Hadi Gurton for the enormous efforts made in organising this event.
It is intended that the next Permaculture Hui, whenever it may be, will be held at Te Ao Hou marae and hosted by the same local team. The ambition is to host this Hui as soon as possible, though it may not be until this time next year.
The PiNZ AGM will be held in the next few months online. This will involve a combination of online discussion spaces, online Council elections, and online voting on some constitutional changes. More thorough information will be sent out in the next few weeks when the process is clear. While we would prefer an in-person AGM, establishing some online infrastructure will have the added benefit of enabling more participation in the AGM from those who could not attend in person - this year and in the future.
The primary focus of the PiNZ Council this year has been the cleaning up some dysfunctional systems and processes that have inhibited efficient activity and decision making.
This has included the behind-the-scenes Council infrastructure - including storage and decision making technologies - and in updating old policy and supporting documents.
Significant glitches in the online membership system were identified and a lot of effort has gone into fixing this. The issue was that memberships were not being renewed, welcome and renewal letters were not being sent, and many people who thought they were members were not. Now that this system has been fixed, Memberships are increasing and Members are being supported.
Another primary focus has been reflecting on the Economic Strategy of PiNZ and exploring alternative ways of operating into the future.
One aspect of this has been the development of a Financial Policy to manage all future financial processes, put together by our incredible Treasurer Clare Wimmer. Clare has also uplifted our financial reporting significantly.
We are developing a new Economic Strategy, guided by the following aspirations:
- To not be dependent on the Annual Permaculture Hui for fundraising, and to make it a non-profit oriented event,
- To offer reciprocity for works done on behalf of PiNZ (starting with paid roles, and in the future exploring reciprocating Councillors),
- To increase annual surplus,
- To maintain cash reserves,
- To channel accumulated funds into events, projects and education,
- To have funds available for training and upskilling Councillors and paid roles,
- To support/adopt alternative economies/currencies.
These aspirations are especially guided by the ethic of People Care, and ensuring that people are economically support in their mahi. The aspiration to move away from the Annual Hui as a fundraiser is informed by the repeating pattern of stress that is imposed on the Hui and organising team by the need to make a profit from this event. Our hope is that the Hui of the future will be even better as non-profit events, speakers and contributors can be reciprocated, and organisers will not be exhausted by their efforts to host.
The Economic Strategy is based primarily on income generated through Membership. Individual memberships are to be supported by soon-to-be-released Organisational Memberships. Consideration is also being made for adding a financial cost to Teacher Affiliation. All forms of Membership and Affiliation will come with benefits and resources that make the financial contribution worthwhile.
Participation and Mahi Strategy
We have been working on creating systems to support Members and non-Members to work on PiNZ-oriented tasks. There is so much that could be done to support the national permaculture movement, and often the workload is concentrated within the PiNZ Council.
We are focusing on making sure Members know what is happening and what opportunities there are to voluntarily contribute to uplifting the organisation and movement as a whole. In the future, we aspire to reciprocate these contributors - either financially, or through some other form of benefit.
We believe that through outsourcing projects and tasks, we can fulfill PiNZ’s goals of offering collaborative infrastructure to support the permaculture movement in Aotearoa and to uplift permaculturalists.
As mentioned above, significant steps have been made in improving the Membership systems and Member experience. In large part, this has been due to the efforts of our Membership Secretary Sean Murphy, Clare Wimmer, and Peter Davis - who has been helping so much with the website.
We currently have 217 paid members with an average payment of $28.49 per membership. This has gone up from 60 this time last year. This may seem low, and this is largely because a lot of Memberships were not automatically renewing, so many people who thought they were Members are not. We are now working to bring these numbers up again. We have 1240 people on the database.
Our Facebook page has over 8800 members and we are hoping to convert some of those into the PiNZ database and consequently increase our paid memberships.
I would like to thank all existing PiNZ Councillors for their mahi over the last year. Jenny Kaye-Potaka (Bioregional Connection), Robina McCurdy (Wise Elder and more!), Lillee Star (Website and Newsletter, Hui Liaison), Clare Wimmer (Treasurer), James Andrews (Secretary) and Sean Murphy (Membership Secretary). It is exciting to be part of a Council with vision and enthusiasm to take this organisation to a new level.
I also give thanks to the Members of PiNZ, for being PiNZ - and for trusting us as a Council. And to the newly formed Wisdom Group, for offering institutional wisdom when called on.
And to Dee Turner for the coordination of the Permaculture Educators Guild, and to all other members of PEG.
We’re in this together
I wrote this in my half-yearly Chair Report, and it feels even more important to repeat it now.
“Our hope is that PiNZ in the future is an organisation that is significantly supporting Permaculturalists throughout Aotearoa New Zealand to respond to the challenges of years to come. In the face of climate change and social upheaval, our intention is to enhance Permaculture as an effective response strategy…
… We are beginning to really enter the time when this organisation - this community - needs to step up and enable significant wide-spread response. Whether this is within our whānau, our village, our suburb, our city or right across the country - it is becoming increasingly important that we support each other to bring about the changes we know are possible.
Our hope, as the PiNZ Council - but more importantly as your friends and peers - is that collectively we can continue to collaborate for the mutual benefit of all life forms.
Nāku tō rourou, nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your basket and my basket the people will prosper”