Trust model effective in improving environmental outcomes
Wanting to explore how national policy played out in the regions, Ministry for the Environment staff member Wallis Greenslade headed to the deep south and found some positives she wasn’t expecting.
A long way from her home in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Wallis has been surprised by how much she’s enjoyed her month working with Environment Southland in Murihiku Southland, and how warmly Southlanders welcomed her.
Originally hailing from Te Whanganui-ā- Tara Wellington, Wallis never imagined Southland would get under her skin as it has.
“Southland as a whole has been an experience – I didn’t really know anyone in this whole island.
“It’s been a long time to be away from my life, but a short time to experience the region.”
As sustainable food systems senior advisor within the Ministry for the Environment’s Policy and Implementation Division, Wallis won the organisation’s chief executive award. This gave her the opportunity build her understanding of how national policy is being implemented at a local level, and the role of regional councils.
“I wanted to see the translation of national policy at a regional level, and how that is realised out on the ground.”
There was no better region to experience that first-hand than Southland, one of the furthest places from where the national policy is developed, with a unique environmental context.
Wallis’ month in Southland took her to a range of different projects and conversations with people across the region.
Two areas of the way Environment Southland operates especially grabbed her attention – the partnership with Te Ao Mārama Inc and the high trust model in which the organisation works with the community.
“Some of the mechanisms being used to connect with communities here are really interesting.
“The Thriving Southland model, having funding from central government but being somewhat independent, building trust with community members, is completely different.”
It is a high trust model and it appears there are many layers behind that, she says.
“Trusting communities to make decisions, it flips the power dynamic and appears to be incredibly effective.
“The success of it though [the high trust model], is evident in the innovation in the region.
“It probably comes about through a range of different factors, across space and time. It’s been fascinating to be part of.”