People's Voices Forum


Our systems fail too many whānau.

The People’s Voices forum was a unique opportunity. In March of 2020, we filled the Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua with people who make decisions in ‘the system’. We held space up on the stage for whānau experiencing the broken system so they could speak freely, from their own expertise about the broken boxes that they feel the system has put them in and the mahi they have done to build good lives for themselves and their communities despite that.

It was an opportunity for policy and decision makers to listen to the voices of people, on their own terms.

Facilitated by Wesley Community Action, with support from Supreme Court Judge Joe Williams and Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, the People’s Voices forum gave funders, policymakers and decisionmakers a chance to listen, with the agenda set by the people.  We were looking to share insights that whānau themselves could bring to inform solutions to our inter-connected social problems


Their message was clear.

You call us “hard to reach”.
So we are reaching out to you.
The system is failing us, we want to share how we are tryingto respond positively …
It’s time that we talked, and you listened.


Our Waitangirua Team Manager Lizzie Makalio drew on all her previous years of mahi with her community to spark People’s Voices and tautoko whānau from across Aotearoa to bravely share their stories up on stage. They wanted to flip the mainstream idea of who the ‘experts’ in any room are. Before the forum Lizzie worked with graphic designer Kim Quirke to develop an illustration to show how, with the right nourishment, everyone can flourish.


Now what?


We asked for feedback from the people that came to the forum. They told us that it was a powerful event that changed the way they see their place in trying to build abetter system for whānau and communties. Change doesn’t always happen overnight though, and in big systems it doesn’t happen fast enough. Lizzie and her community have created their own movement to make the change themselves and help club whānau and others connect and grow positively together – WhānauFluence


To read more about People’s Voices download our report or read Max Rashbrooke’s piece on The Spinoff.

In the Te Hiko whānau: How is this contributing to growing better economic systems and adding value in our communities?

People’s Voices was all about privileging community voice. It was a key moment for us to ask: how can we flip the usual ideas of ‘expertise’ when it comes to policy making and put people on the stage in a way that shows their expertise in their own lives?

This event was important to try and contribute bigger impact – we may not see direct changes in policy and decision making straight away, but we hope we helped some of the listeners make shifts in how they think about community voice and expertise. We will all keep trying to build on these shifts. When whānau experiencing the issues are more closely a part of building the response we will be able to build better economic systems that actually work for them.

Related Content

Stay in Touch

Contact Us