Kia ora koutou. Ko Dave Hursthouse tōku ingoa [my name is Dave Hursthouse]. In April 2019 I became heamana [chairperson] of Permaculture in New Zealand, and alongside an awesome PiNZ Council I have been working on all sorts of behind-the-scenes organisational mahi to make PiNZ thrive!
It has been a while since we have offered you a decent update on PiNZ activity, so this year's Chair Report is a long one! You’re encouraged to check out the parts you’re interested in - and we’re always keen on your feedback. Remember everyone involved within PiNZ is working on a volunteer basis, and we all lead full and busy lives. We’re doing our best to help PiNZ thrive with the limited capacity we have.
Thank you for all that you offer to PiNZ in your own way - you are seen and appreciated. As a collective, we are making the world a more just, abundant and diverse place.
At the 2019 Permaculture Hui in Aparima [Riverton], it was a privilege to welcome Jenny-Kaye Potaka and Clare Wimmer to the Council, alongside existing Council members: Robina McCurdy, Sean Murphy, Lillee Star, James Andrews and me (Dave Hursthouse).
Both Jenny-Kaye and Clare bring a wealth of experience. Jenny-Kaye has a long history of engagement with community groups and committees, including the early establishment of the Green Party. She also once sat on the PiNZ Council many years ago.
Clare brings significant wisdom in the economic and financial space, with years of experience in her role at CLIMsystems. Clare has enthusiastically stepped into the Treasurer role and is doing wonders cleaning up the PiNZ financial landscape.
It was bittersweet to say farewell to ex-Chairperson Nandor Tanczos, whose wisdom and experience has guided the Council for many long years. We collectively thank Nandor for the huge amounts of time and energy he has put in over the years, and we are grateful for his significant (and often unseen) impact within PiNZ.
Nandor and I had been working on succession throughout 2018, and so I succeeded him as Chairperson after the 2019 Hui.
Read about the PiNZ Councilors here
The primary goal of the PiNZ Council over the 2019/20 year is to solidify and improve existing PiNZ systems, to enable new and innovative activity in the years to come.
PiNZ and the PiNZ Council have systems and digital infrastructure that support the organisation, and are designed to enable collaboration and resource sharing between PiNZ Members. We are collectively of the opinion that most of these systems need significant improvement.
As we seek to make PiNZ a highly functional and supportive organisation for everyone involved, the Council has committed itself to:
- Fixing system issues;
- Updating policies;
- Updating the PiNZ Constitution;
- Ensuring Member needs are being met;
- Changing the economic model of PiNZ;
- Improving collaborative relationships; and
- Making sure PiNZ activity (of Council and Members) is being shared throughout the organisation.
What matters most for the Council is that the organisation becomes a collaborative, supportive, and easily accessible network of Permaculturalists. In improving PiNZ systems (‘cleaning up the house’), our hope is that we can support collaboration in the years to come. All things going well, the next few years will see PiNZ supporting more projects ‘on-the-ground’ - both financially and otherwise.
Transparency & Visibility
Common questions we get are ‘What does PiNZ actually do?’ and ‘What actually is PiNZ?’
This confusion among PiNZ Members (and PiNZ Councillors!) is prompting action to make PiNZ Council activities more transparent, and to make clear what PiNZ as an organisation does/offers - to Members, and to Aotearoa New Zealand. This includes making strategies and prior action clearly available to Members. It also includes a contemporary visual conceptualisation of the organisation to help people understand how it works (watch this space).
This has prompted significant momentum toward supporting more tangible and visible action - more support for on-the-ground initiatives, etc.
For many years, the PiNZ Council has been focused on establishing collaborative systems such as the new website - projects that have taken significant (often misunderstood) amounts of work to establish. As these systems become more refined, they will support more visible action.
This transparency and visibility also extend to the activity of Members, and we continue to encourage Members to share their events, stories and activities on the website and newsletter. What Members are up to on the ground is the real action of PiNZ. The PiNZ organisation exists to make this action easier, more effective and more life-enhancing for all.
Over the last few months, we have been making changes to the way the PiNZ Council operates. The most significant change has been to the meeting structure of the PiNZ Council.
Traditionally, the PiNZ Council has been meeting once a month online for a Voice Meet, and four times a year Face-to-Face(F2F). These F2F meetings involve all Council members (7) meeting in one place for two days for intensive PiNZ mahi. Generally, this involves flying and driving Council members from various areas of the country to wherever is the most central/easily accessible location.
On reflection, these F2F meetings are expensive - both financially, and in terms of carbon emissions. They are one of PiNZ’s largest financial expenses, often totaling around $8,000 per year.
While being together in person has numerous benefits, the Council has decided to halve the number of F2Fs each year. The Council will now meet F2F only twice per year for three days. Instead, the Council is now holding one full-day online Action Day every two months, where we come together on Zoom to work collaboratively on different focus areas.
There are some challenges involved with online working, however, this move has halved the annual carbon and financial cost of the PiNZ Council. If it proves successful, further cuts to F2F meetings may happen in the future.
There are aspects of the PiNZ Constitution that are becoming outdated. We are working on creating a more up to date Constitution that is reflective of Council and PiNZ activity, and bringing this Proposal to the next AGM - the final decision to be made by the voting membership.
The primary proposed changes will include shifting the PiNZ Council decision making process and changing the name of PiNZ to be more reflective of the cultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Watch this space! We will send the proposed changes to Members a month prior to the AGM.
Our Constitution can be found here
Website & Newsletter
The website is functioning reasonably well, with many ‘back end’ issues that are being worked on as we speak. These issues are often beyond the technical capacity of the PiNZ Council, and we are seeking anyone with the technical skills in website development who may be interested in joining the Website Team and making the PiNZ website as awesome as it can possibly be.
Currently, the fully functioning features of the website include:
- Event publicity
- Newsletter publishing
- Resource and story sharing
- PiNZ Council information and access to minutes
- Education information and the Permaculture Education Guild
Future features are intended to include:
- Bioregional collaboration
- Information about PiNZ Affiliated Teachers and their courses in NZ
- Permaculture Designers Network - information and bios
- Sharing of Permaculture Diploma projects
- Discussion forums
- Online courses
Lillee continues to coordinate awesome seasonal Newsletters full of events and stories sourced from different bioregions and content for the website. Thank you so much to all who contribute to these Newsletters - they are a collaborative effort, and they continue to improve with more participation. Members are encouraged to share their stories and events on the website and in the Newsletter.
See our past newsletter here
Become a website member here or login to post your stories, event, and resources
A primary challenge for PiNZ at the moment is the Membership Database, linked with the website. Many PiNZ Members may have noticed that they are not receiving reminders if their Membership is due to expire; an invitation to renew; or a welcome letter on joining PiNZ. This means that Memberships have been expiring without anyone knowing about it. It also makes it difficult to understand just how many members PiNZ currently has. Now that causes of these issues have been identified, they are being addressed and should soon be resolved.
These issues are symptomatic of a new and complex database system. Thankfully we have been receiving some support (thanks Peter Davis from Fuzion), and some PiNZ Councillors are upskilling in this space. We are seeking techies experienced with CiviCRM for further support.
Beyond these issues, our primary focus is ensuring PiNZ Members feel valued and supported, and that they can easily and actively participate within the organisation. PiNZ is its Members, so a Membership Team has been established to enhance the collaborative network.
Another focus has been establishing criteria and frameworks for Organisational Membership - a long-standing request from PiNZ Members who run Permaculture-oriented Organisations. This is a work in progress, and we request your ongoing patience in this space.
Currently, there are 477 paying Members of PiNZ. It is expected that the actual number will increase quite a bit when the Database issues are resolved.
If you would like to support PiNZ by becoming a Finacial Member join up here
The Annual Permaculture Hui in Aparima [Riverton] was a beautiful event, thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended. A huge thank you to the Guyton family and everyone else involved with organising this event, for bringing us together in such a beautiful place with such wairua. This family and team did an incredible job in organising and creating this Hui, and it was so very much appreciated. The vibe was warm, intimate, grounded and inviting - and the learning and sharing was rich.
From an organisational perspective, this Hui highlighted again some of the issues with the Annual Hui being run as a fundraiser for PiNZ (discussed more in Financial Robustness, below). For example, the necessity to raise funds for PiNZ as an organisation puts undue stress on all those involved with organising these Hui, and can drive the price up making it difficult for people to access the event.
While this Hui didn’t generate significant income for PiNZ or the local team, it did contribute to the building of capacity within Riverton, enhancing the facilities at the Guyton Food Forest and bringing communities together - all positive effects, and what I feel should be the main outcomes of events like these anyway. Our hope is that future Hui will be able to cease being fundraisers, to focus more fully on enhancing the local region and bringing people together.
In Aparima, the PiNZ Hui Mauri Stone was picked up by Murray and Lindy of Whanganui - who since then have been bringing together a team around Te Ao Hou Marae where the 2020 Permaculture Hui will be held. This event is shaping up to be a beautiful and inspirational event, hosted between the marae and nearby school facilities, that will bring together the deep whenua wisdom of Te Ao Māori and the emerging wisdom of Permaculture. Our deep thanks to Lindy, Murray, Fiona, Lillee, Geoff, the haukāinga of Te Ao Hou and all other team members for all their mahi in preparation for this event.
PiNZ Council is consistently receiving feedback that attention needs to be focused on supporting bioregional groups to act and collaborate. While this has been understood for a while, it has taken some time for much action to happen in this space. However, one of the core functions of the website design is to enhance bioregional collaboration, and as the website systems get tweaked and improved, this is becoming more of a possibility.
Since coming onboard the Council, Jenny-Kaye has taken on working in this bioregional space. She is establishing a list of bioregional contacts so Permaculturalists in a bioregion have someone to touch base with about the activities of the area. The intention is for this bioregional focus to move further into creating collaborative spaces on the website for sharing events, resources and meetings; PiNZ supporting bioregional Hui and gatherings and developing a bioregional map of Aotearoa that supports PiNZ Members & visitors to know what is going on in different areas.
As we continue to transition toward more localised systems of activity, it becomes increasingly important to support and strengthen the bioregions. This continues to become more and more of a priority for PiNZ Council.
The Permaculture Education Guild is a part of the PiNZ Organisation focused on supporting, promoting and enhancing Permaculture education in Aotearoa New Zealand. The PiNZ Council is working on improving communication between PEG and Council and our hope is that we can all support each other to enhance the function of PEG.
Permaculture education is on the front line of Permaculture exposure in Aotearoa. For many people, a PDC or an Intro to Permaculture course is their first proper encounter with Permaculture. These courses can be life-changing and transformative. The PiNZ Council, in collaboration with PEG, is committed to ensuring that Permaculture education in Aotearoa is authentic, consistent (within reason), allows for the unique flavours of different teachers, and is of high quality. Given the transformative capacity of these learning experiences, we seek to ensure that people’s lives are changing in a healthy and supported way.
More information can be found on our PEG page
As it stands, PiNZ is not a financially robust organisation. Currently, the two sources of income are from Membership and the Annual Hui, and on an annual basis PiNZ tends to scrape by financially with little scope for investing money in action and improvement.
The Annual Permaculture Hui is a significant event for PiNZ - it is the time for us to come together to share, learn and celebrate. Consistently, having the Annual Hui as a fundraiser for PiNZ is putting undue stress on the event and event organisers. This is making it less of a joyful and beneficial enhancer, and more of a stressful burden for those integrally involved. Additionally, income from the Hui is inconsistent and dependant on many variables - this makes it difficult for PiNZ Council to budget further activities.
The Council is working on changing the economic structure of PiNZ so that it is no longer dependant on income from the Annual Permaculture Hui. This may take a year or two. We have a renewed Financial Policy; are working on a new Economic Strategy; and the focus is on improving and increasing PiNZ Membership (which goes hand-in-hand with making Membership a beneficial experience for the Member). Additionally, we are exploring various funding opportunities and what other possible sources of income there may be apart from Membership and Hui.
The Council has also (as mentioned in Council Processes above) changed its meeting processes to reduced Council expenditure - a significant cost of the PiNZ organisation.
Improving our financial robustness will increase the potential impact of PiNZ. An obstacle to PiNZ impact concerns the limited capacity of Permaculturalists to contribute volunteer hours to the organisation. If we can generate significant capital, PiNZ may be able to pay PiNZ Members to work on various PiNZ related tasks and projects. Further, we may be able to channel funds into Permaculture projects around the country.
There is a huge amount of institutional wisdom that is not fully stored in a written form for present and future Councillors. This wisdom is in those people who have played integral roles within PiNZ in the past. The risk present and future Councils face is reinventing the wheel or re-litigating issues that have been discussed many times in the past.
To address this risk, we are establishing a Wisdom Group - an advisory/consultation group of experienced past-Councillors and highly active PiNZ Members. This group won’t be a burden for its members and comes with low obligations. The idea is that when the Council feels like it may be missing something from the past, or dealing with something already dealt with, it can send out a request for information to this Wisdom Group. Those in the Wisdom Group can, if they have capacity, respond with any advice or information they may have. They are not expected to be proactive advisors, rather to respond only when asked.
Our hope is that this Wisdom Group may support the sharing of intergenerational knowledge and effective decision making in the future.
Some wonderful collaboration is happening with the Kai Oranga courses run out of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. These courses are focused on food production through the lens of Te Ao Māori, are based at marae around the country, and their Level 4 courses integrate a Permaculture Design Course. I feel like these courses are demonstrating the richness that comes when the deep wisdom of tikanga Māori collaborates with the emerging wisdom of Permaculture, and I feel like there is a lot Permaculturalists throughout Aotearoa can learn from what is happening here.
If you’d like more information, check the Kai Oranga courses out here.
It has been exciting to begin supporting Kai Oranga in the delivery of these courses and exploring the pathways towards becoming PiNZ Affiliated Teachers. It is also very exciting to have Donna and others from Kai Oranga contributing towards the 2020 Permaculture Hui at Te Ao Hou Marae in Whanganui.
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. For many of us, we have been preparing for these challenges for a long time - for some of us, a very long time! These challenges are here, and now.
We’re witnessing a wide-spread acceptance of the ecological and social realities of our time. 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
Permaculture in New Zealand