Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 15


A New Model for CoMMuNity developMeNt

Puahou A New Model for CoMMuNity developMeNt 1
CONTENTS INTRODUCTION “Humans can handle anything as long as they are together – we need to


CONTENTS INTRODUCTION “Humans can handle anything as long as they are together – we need to


“Humans can handle anything as long as they are together – we need to take relationships more seriously.”

– MArgAret wheAtley

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION “Humans can handle anything as long as they are together – we need to


MerivAle - AN overview

the role of the MerivAle CoMMuNity CeNtre

why we Need puAhou

puAhou: A New Model for CoMMuNity developMeNt puAhou’s five ACtioN AreAs

puAho’s liNks to MAori Models of well-beiNg MAkiNg puAhou work the wAy forwArd AppeNdiCes AppeNdix 1: eNhANCiNg hAppiNess ANd well-beiNg AppeNdix 2: MeAsuriNg progress - gdp, hdi, gpi, hpi

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION “Humans can handle anything as long as they are together – we need to

Our last publication, Positive and Proud (2008), provided a snapshot of how the residents of Merivale, Tauranga felt about where they lived and how they wanted to improve their community.

Positive and Proud provided a mandate for future community action, building on the positive aspects of life in Merivale and addressing the negative.

Since then, the Merivale Community Centre has been the catalyst and focus for change. It has earned the trust of locals and forged strong alliances with a range of statutory and voluntary sector agencies.

Positive and Proud provided a theoretical framework and evidence base for change. This publication is the next step

along the journey. It outlines a radical new model for community development in Merivale. We call it Puahou.

The Puahou community development model will be used by the Merivale Community Centre to improve lives of those in the Merivale community.

We chose the name because the native Puahou tree is the first tree in the forest to come into flower and the first sign of spring. What could be more appropriate to symbolise the work ahead?

Puahou represents a blossoming for communities that have dwelt for too long in the winter of poverty, ignominy and hopelessness

MERIVALE – AN OVERVIEW Merivale is a neighbourhood of 859 households and 2,397 residents. Over 30


Merivale is a neighbourhood of 859 households and 2,397 residents. Over 30 percent of the residents are under the age of 15 and 39 percent of the Merivale population are Mãori.

Merivale is among the most deprived

  • 10 percent of New Zealand communities,

with low levels of income, employment, and educational attainment. The average annual wage in Merivale is $10,000 less than the Tauranga average.

Thirty-four percent of people over

  • 15 years of age have no qualification,

and only three percent hold a bachelor degree or equivalent. Forty percent of people in Merivale are not currently engaged in the workforce.

Forty-three percent of families live in rental properties, and of that group 39 percent live in Housing New Zealand Corporation homes which is five times

the Tauranga average.

Thirty-seven percent of families are single parents with children and only 26 percent are couples without children, with this trend falling in Merivale. The local Merivale School

has 93 percent Maori and Pacifica students in a roll of 119.

Employment remains a big issue. People who are unemployed or under-employed are unlikely to have the financial resources to meet the needs

of themselves and their families. And they are less likely to be engaged in the personal development, flow, meaning and identity that come from being engaged in meaningful daily activities.

Overall, people in Merivale are in the invidious position of being constantly

reinforced in the belief that money and material possessions are the be all and end all of life, whilst being denied the opportunities to actually achieve them. This results in a learned helplessness as people lack the means to take part in and attain cultural goals which, in turn, drives responses that reject the very means of achieving them.

This is what Puahou is seeking to address.

Merivale is among the most deprived 10% of NZ communities

MERIVALE – AN OVERVIEW Merivale is a neighbourhood of 859 households and 2,397 residents. Over 30


The Merivale Community Centre is located in the middle of this community. Merivale Community Incorporated (MCI) was established by residents in 1992 with the mission of “Helping People to Help Themselves.” Today, our mission has evolved to:

“buildiNg our CoMMuNity together”.

The Merivale Community Centre offers youth services, OSCAR programmes, whãnau support services, facilitates community events and activities and provides a space for other community and social service providers to provide services to our local community.

The Merivale Community Centre has made significant positive progress in starting to address the concerns and challenges that exist within our community. But much more needs to be done and this will require a paradigm shift in the way services are delivered and coordinated.

the way we have done it has not yielded changes to the extent we had hoped.

Simply put, at a grassroots level we are failing to get people to care and look out for others.

We have to acknowledge that poverty is stifling life chances and opportunities for many within the Merivale Community and that current approaches to education, social support and economics are falling far short of what is required to really make a difference.

Fresh thinking and fresh approaches are urgently required.

This is not about just finding ways to do more of the same - we need to accept that much of what we have done and

WHY WE NEED PUAHOU Puahou is founded on the idea that good relationships are at the


Puahou is founded on the idea that good relationships are at the heart of positive personal and community growth.

WHY WE NEED PUAHOU Puahou is founded on the idea that good relationships are at the



Most attempts to address problems around improving life for people living in our most impoverished and deprived communities show limited success at best and have, more often, failed or are failing.

Intergenerational cycles of poor or toxic parenting continue to plague the opportunities and life chances of too many of our young people.

doing the same thing and expecting a different result is not a rational approach and will not yield the deeper sustainable change that we would wish for ourselves and for individuals and whãnau in Merivale.

A new approach that allows for the rapidly changing circumstances and influences in Merivale is needed. An approach that is flexible and responsive to the needs of individuals within our communities.


Puahou is founded on the idea that good relationships are at the heart of positive personal and community growth. local solutions to local problems are increasingly regarded as best practice, *(reference 1 below) however our experience is that local communities are seldom truly empowered and supported to do this.

If we can accept that we are failing those in the most need in our society, we are then set upon a refreshed search to understand how we are failing, what may be going on that we may have misunderstood, and how we can respond to that.

We believe failure is primarily systemic and communal, rather than the fault of individuals.


The change that we all articulate and would like to see, takes substantial time. unfortunately, more time than our short-term political cycles dictate. Our democratic structures can encourage ‘tunnel vision’ or short-term fixes that prevent any meaningful progress.

Concerned politicians at a local and national level often claim to be motivated to support initiatives that address problems around poverty and deprivation. However, our political system and media have tended to create an environment in which a party currently in power needs to be seen to have bold, new ideas that are different from the policies of previous administrations.

Striving for a point of difference in this

way runs counter to the interests of the most vulnerable in our society. Valuable relationships between people are often put at risk by the requirement for change that can see community and voluntary organisations required to cut back on relationally rich activities that struggle to show outputs, often losing key staff and momentum.

There is no statutory agency with parenting skills, support for parents, social inter-connectedness, or relationship building as their core business. yet these are the heart of our society, the very skills that build resilience in a rapidly changing world.

We need political and civic leadership that commits to long-term development in our communities, based on sound evidence and research.


We are missing the opportunities that proactive early intervention provides and instead, meeting people at a point at which they are often resistant to any intervention and support.

WHy WE NEEd PuAHOu What many people truly need is a connection in the form of


WHy WE NEEd PuAHOu What many people truly need is a connection in the form of

What many people truly need is a connection in the form of a real relationship where someone will go the extra mile and really be there to support the person

Most of our social service delivery models define a point that must be reached to trigger varying levels of involvement. Perversely, this often leads to a failure prior to crisis.

The definition that guides intervention is supported by funding models that target families in crisis. This means organisations and service providers gravitate towards crisis rather than prevention. Interestingly, it is the statutory sector that defines what is urgent in crisis. At present, response to crisis is the normal and accepted focus of our intervention.


An increasing reliance on professionals is a normal and accepted practice in intervention. yet there is a concern that this reliance has the very effect of disempowering family, friends, neighbours and other community members whom could help.


said that they looked first

... not to ‘natural helpers’ but instead to professional specialists when their families had problems. Help had become a commodity to buy, not what people do. (Melton, ; .)

John Mcknight The Careless Society




A further challenge is Relational distancing (Fletcher and Cameron SPINZ conference April 2009) which occurs owing to the establishment and maintenance of the ‘professional boundary’.

While we acknowledge that there is a need for professional boundaries to protect both workers and clients we would point out that what many people truly need is a connection in the form of a real relationship where someone will

go the extra mile and really be there to

support the person come what may. The ‘professional boundary’ is often counter- productive in terms of this relationship.

It is our experience that very often these types of high quality connections become less likely the further along the continuum an agency is towards being a statutory agency. It is paradoxical that better qualified, experienced workers (who are therefore more likely to end up in better paying statutory agencies or well established Voluntary sector agencies) are less likely to be able to build relationships with people of a nature that will result in people getting the support they need to make changes in their lives.

There is huge competition for funding for programmes that address issues of poverty and deprivation and that attempt to support people in improving their lives and funders are rightly focussed on achieving measurable outcomes for their dollars. The authors contend that the need to obtain funding tends to result in groups over-promising in terms of the results they will deliver and that in doing this are drawn away from the level at which their client groups are actually operating.

Other models have tended to have goals and aspirations that are ahead of themselves – see discussion around the Psychology of Behaviour change below

For example it is no use running parenting programmes when the people who most need them do not have any

conception (let alone acceptance) of the fact that the way they are raising their kids is toxic, highly dysfunctional and bordering on the abusive. What is needed for those people is something that builds connection, trust and feelings

of safety.

This is much harder to get

funded. Research in Merivale clearly identifies that community building, in terms of engaging the community in activities and programmes that build connections between people is a priority for people in Merivale.

WHy WE NEEd PuAHOu The whole idea of social identity, of ‘community’ and people looking out


The whole idea of social identity, of ‘community’ and people looking out for each other has suffered greatly from the steady erosion of intrinsic values at the expenses of extrinsic values.


Current community developmenty models tend to have goals and aspirations that are ahead of themselves and that run counter to the psychology of behaviour change.

Real sustainable change is very slow – people change themselves – we do not change people – the more effort in terms of punative, directive, authoritative approaches, the more we push people further away from engaging in the reality of their lives.

It is our experience that we build stories of our lives with often extensive and convoluted justifications for why things are the way they are. At the heart of these is the drive towards psychological health – to feel that we are ok, doing our

best and that the problems and issues are not our fault, but the fault of others. This can lead to great resistance when it comes to facing the often unpleasant truths that need to be faced.

The work of Prochaska and diClemente (1986) and their colleagues formally identified the dynamics and structure of staged behaviour change. In attempting to explain these patterns of behaviour, Prochaska and diClemente developed a transtheoretical model of behavioural change, which proposes that behaviour change occurs in five distinct stages through which people move in a cyclical or spiral pattern.

The first of these stages is termed pre- contemplation. In this stage, there is no intent on the part of the individual to change his or her behaviour in the foreseeable future.

The second stage is called contemplation, where people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously considering taking some action to address the problem. However, at this stage, they have not made a commitment to undertake action.

The third stage is described as preparation, and involves both intention to change and some behaviour, usually minor, and often meeting with limited success.

Action is the fourth stage where individuals actually modify their behaviour, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems or to meet their goals.

The fifth and final stage, maintenance, is where people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained in the action stage.

The authors contend that Puahou (and indeed any programme that addresses behavioural change) needs to start from where people are and that we need to be focussed at getting people to move out of stage 1. We believe that our approach, based on building positive and safe connections with people, from a foundation of being openly engaged with the change process as individuals and staff, is the best way to achieve this. We would argue that, because of the reasons discussed above, the majority of programmes and services that seek to facilitate change in people are focussed at the wrong stage for where their clients are operating.


The whole idea of social identity, of ‘community’ and people looking out for each other has suffered greatly from the steady erosion of intrinsic values at the expenses of extrinsic values. There is a dominant cultural paradigm that increasingly promotes and praises extrinsic, individualist, material, status based values to the detriment of intrinsic, human, relationship and community based ones. A re-balancing is badly needed.


A welfare system that’s fit for the future cannot continue to assume that there will always be more money for more

projects and initiatives. Instead, we must value and nurture the ‘core’ economy, the human resources that comprise and sustain social life. great potential lies in the human resources of this core economy with its intrinsic values, resources that are embedded in the everyday lives of all individuals (time, wisdom, experience, energy, knowledge, skills), and in the relationships between them (love, empathy, watchfulness, care, reciprocity, teaching and learning).

We want to change the top-down, centralised, doing-to culture of the welfare state that has nurtured

dependency rather than autonomy. We believe that public services need to become facilitators and brokers of co- produced services, as equal partners, not just as providers.

PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive


PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive
PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive

puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive change so that we can build a flourishing community together. it’s about early intervention at grassroots level informed by people that work and live in Merivale.

The ‘Puahou’ model supports children and families by building genuine connections between individuals, neighbours and groups and agencies, across cultures and ethnicities.

We believe these connections will empower whãnau to make life decisions that will improve health and well-being for themselves, their children and the community.

puAhou’s Core vAlues


he tANgAtA

People are important

he whAkAruru

Feeling safe - we all have the right to feel safe all of the time

he toMuA

Early intervention – we need to act early before things become too big

kiA whAkANui


streNgths bAsed

We need to focus on what is good and positive.

We have a vision of a community where people look out for others from a place of self understanding and ongoing personal growth: a community of good neighbours.

The principle of being a good neighbour includes the willingness to support and assist others, setting a positive example and clear expectations of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

Puahou will set the conditions for change so that other interventions - economic, education, early childhood education, training, and employment – gain much greater traction than they have to date. Puahou acknowledges that engaging successfully and appropriately with communities means recognising only

whãnau can set the boundaries and process for engagement.

We contend that safe and positive relationships are a pre-requisite to individual and community wellbeing and underlie behavioural change. Fostering insight and self-awareness are at the heart of personal development and we believe that such processes must start with ourselves.

We also believe that this puts a challenge to organisations and

services providers to provide an honest admission that different approaches are badly needed.

Puahou provides a framework for building connections between individuals, their neighbours and groups and agencies across cultures and ethnicities. These connections provide an impetus for a pre-emptive approach that empowers whãnau to make life decisions for themselves and their children that

improve health and well-being.

PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive


puahou aims to tap into the human resources of the Merivale community by focusing on the five areas which specifically relate to happiness and wellbeing:


keep leArNiNg

Build relationships, get to know people

Hobbies, education, courses

be ACtive


Movement, exercise, play

generosity, compassion, time

tAke NotiCe

Insight and awareness

MerivAle Model of CoMMuNity developMeNt


He Tanagata All have the right to feel safe Early Intervention

Strengths based


PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive



PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive



PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive



PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive



PUAHOU: A NEW MODEL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT puahou is all about setting the conditions for positive

It is important that the action themes are very distinct. This way, people

can try different approaches to promoting their well-being without

feeling that their efforts are stagnating.

Furthermore, different approaches

will suit different people.


PUAHOU’S FIVE ACTION AREAS here is a brief description of each theme/action and its link to


here is a brief description of each theme/action and its link to improving people’s happiness and well-being.

PUAHOU’S FIVE ACTION AREAS here is a brief description of each theme/action and its link to



(Belonging, Inclusion, Relationships)

Take and make time to connect with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours and regard these connections as the foundations of life.


Take or make time to be active. Walk or run, cycle, play games or sport, dance, garden, discover a physical activity that is enjoyable that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Regular physical activity is associated with a greater sense of well-being and lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups.


shown to enhance well-being for several years. Being in a state known as mindfulness (‘the state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present’) has also been shown to predict positive mental states, self-regulated behaviour and heightened self-knowledge.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, research into actions that aim to enhance well-being have found that goals for behaviour change need to be aligned with personal values to be successful. The implication of the evidence is that lasting behavioural change can only be achieved if the proposed interventions are somewhat internalised and owned by the individual. Increasing self-awareness by ‘taking notice’ may have the added benefit of enhancing this process.


(attentive to immediate experience and surroundings, reflection on thoughts and feelings)

Be curious, pay attention, savour the moment. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling wherever you are. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

Research has shown that being trained to be aware of sensations, thoughts and feelings for 8 to 12 weeks has been

(identifying strengths and talents, enabling choice and creativity)

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for a course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. learning new things will make you more confident, as well as being fun to do.

Fieldwork studies indicate that the practice of setting goals and participation in lifelong learning serves to positively impact on an individual’s well-being and resilience. This is particularly the case when the goals are self-generated and congruent with personal values.


(generosity, kindness, gratitude)

do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Smile. look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with the people around you.

Participation in social and community

life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of well-being research. Feelings of happiness and life satisfaction have been strongly associated with active participation in social and community life.

Evidence suggests that notions of reciprocity and ‘giving back’ to others promote well-being for people of all ages. Behaviours of this kind can be of particular importance to the development of social cognition in children and young people. For adults, and particularly retirees, giving and sharing are important for defining a sense of purpose in the community and a sense of self-worth.

While the Puahou model is not a purely kaupapa Maori model (we believe that kaupapa Maori is not the whole picture for urban Maori communities), we particularly like the way that the 5 actions of Puahou link in with Maori models of health and wellbeing.

The strong links between the ‘Te Whare Tapu Wha’ and the ‘Maia’ models are described below. We believe the fact that the 5 actions of Puahou are evidence-based and map well with the key elements of the Maori models will support their adoption by the Merivale community.


te whAre tApA whA

CirCle of CourAge

te whAre tApA whA

be ACtive
be ACtive
tAke NotiCe
tAke NotiCe

keep leArNiNg















the te whare tapu wha model was developed by professor Mason durie. its principles are:

tAhA wAiruA – spirituAl

The capacity for faith and wider communion.

tAhA hiNeNgAro – MeNtAl

The capacity to communicate, to think and feel.

tAhA tiNANA – physiCAl

The capacity for physical growth and development.

tAhA whANAu – exteNded fAMily ANd CoMMuNity

The capacity to belong, to care and to share.

The Maia model incorporates elements of Te Whare Tapa Wha with the Circle of Courage model. The Circle of Courage model is a model of positive youth development that integrates Native American philosophies of child-rearing, the heritage of early pioneers in education and youth work, and contemporary resilience research. The Circle of Courage is based in four universal growth needs of all children:


In First Nations cultures, significance was nurtured in communities of belonging. lakota anthropologist Ella deloria described the core value of belonging in these simple words:

‘Be related, somehow, to everyone you know.’ Treating others as kin forges

powerful social bonds that draw all into relationships of respect. Even if parents died or were not responsible, the tribe was always there to nourish the next generation.


Competence in traditional cultures is ensured by guaranteed opportunity for mastery. Children were taught to

carefully observe and listen to those with more experience. A person with greater ability was seen as a model for learning, not as a rival. Each person strives for mastery for personal growth, but not to be superior to someone else. Humans have an innate drive to become competent and solve problems. With success in surmounting challenges, the desire to achieve is strengthened.


Power in Western culture was based on dominance, but in tribal traditions it meant respecting the

right for independence.

In contrast to obedience models of discipline, Native teaching was designed to build respect and teach inner discipline. Taking responsibility for ourselves and those for whom we care is an essential skill that needs to be passed on to children and young people today more than ever.


Virtue was reflected in the pre-eminent value of generosity, gift-giving and service. The central goal in First Nations

child-rearing is to teach the importance of being generous and unselfish. In the words of a lakota Elder, ‘you should be able to give away your most cherished possession without your heart beating faster.’ Mason durie outlined the Maori parallels:

whÃNAu (ideNtity, beloNgiNg & CoNNeCtioN)

Essentially it is about relationships between people. A sense of belonging is based on perceived similarities or commonalities within a group, the most significant groups to which one belongs are the smallest. Cultural, gender, class and age identities are important. given the emphasis on whakapapa and whãnaungatanga in Te Ao Mãori, Te Ora Hou prioritise the concept of Whãnau over the other three foundations.

When a whãnau is healthy and whole, it helps us know who we are, where and to whom we belong.

pukeNgAtANgA (MAstery, giftedNess & CoMpeteNCe)

A sense of achievement, a perception one is making progress in learning important and useful skills.

MANA MotuhAke (MAturity, iNdepeNdeNCe & respoNsibility)

A sense of self and accepting responsibility for making decisions and taking action. knowledge that there are important things one can do regardless of the actions of others.

AtAwhAi (geNerosity, serviCe & CoNtributioN)

A sense of making a meaningful contribution to the world around us – being generous in spirit, the ability to endure slights or offences without retaliation, developing empathy and a forgiving spirit. Caring for the natural environment and living a sustainable lifestyle.


MAKING PUAHOU WORK evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level


MAKING PUAHOU WORK evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level

evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level might be:



‘Connection’ has been a theme that has underpinned the philosophy of the Community Centre since the Positive and Proud research in 2008. Puahou will continue to focus on ways of improving connection for people in the Merivale community.

For our Māori community, whakapapa is the central tenet of connection. It is provides the reference point for identifying oneself and others. Most importantly, a healthy connection through whakapapa is inclusive rather than exclusive. While European traditions of genealogy have interested in issues of primogeniture and tend to encourage exclusivity, whakapapa is strengthened by the inclusion of others, of their traditions and their genealogical lines. So encouraging the exploration and celebration of whakapapa is an important tool of common connection for a large part of the Merivale community.

Programmes that enable people to ‘be active’ and which offer opportunities for people to ‘keep learning’ are done through a variety of ‘connection’ building environments.

There are numerous ways in which people can ‘give’ within Merivale and the Community Centre will continue to act as a focal point for those who want to get involved, offering a variety of ways

to support projects, run events and activities and support others in Merivale.

Taking Notice is perhaps the most difficult to understand but probably the most important of the five strategies. Implicit within ‘take notice’ is the personal development and increasing self-awareness that lie at the heart of behavioural change.

Reminding oneself to ‘take notice’ is a step in the right direction towards strengthening and broadening awareness on an intrapersonal (within person) level. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances well-being. Savouring an experience can help to reinstate life priorities. Furthermore, heightened awareness enhances an individual’s self understanding and allows an individual to make choices in alignment with his/ her own values and intrinsic motivations.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, research into actions that aim to enhance well-being have similarly found that goals for behaviour change need to be aligned with personal values to be successful. The implication of the evidence is that lasting behavioural change can only be achieved if the proposed interventions are somewhat internalised and owned by the individual. Increasing self-awareness by ‘taking notice’ may have the added benefit of enhancing this process.

MAKING PUAHOU WORK evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level


MAKING PUAHOU WORK evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level


MAKING PUAHOU WORK evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level


MAKING PUAHOU WORK evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level


MAKING PUAHOU WORK evidence suggests that some other things that would help at a community level


We need to be realistic about what Puahou can achieve – we are not going

to be able to magically turn Merivale into a hub of well-being overnight. Puahou will take time to work.

But we shouldn’t be discouraged either. Research indicates that if the Merivale community can start to perceive itself as an ‘improving’ community, then this will have a positive effect on levels of

happiness. More social connectedness

and positive community interactions can and well create an upwards spiral in levels of happiness.

We must acknowledge our lack of control or influence over things such as macro- economic factors, the world economy

and national policies. At a national level there is compelling evidence that

introducing policies that decrease income inequality would be an effective start to

enhancing wellbeing in New Zealand.

We contend that such broad changes are an essential part of setting the right foundations for improving well-being on a national basis. More must be done to raise the level of awareness and action on these issues and we encourage all New Zealanders to participate in this debate.

What’s called for is action on many fronts, national and local. Employment remains a huge priority. People who are unemployed or under-employed are unlikely to have the financial resources to

meet the needs of themselves and their families. And they are less likely to be engaged in the personal development, flow, meaning and identity that come from being engaged in meaningful daily activities.

We are confident that Puahou will speak to the people of Merivale in a way with which they can identify. Its five themes provide an excellent framework from which to continue the work of enhancing well-being and happiness in our community.

They are easily understandable, non- threatening and offer something that everyone can engage in at some level.

There’s plenty happening already. The Merivale Community Centre has already aligned its forward planning and reporting with the Puahou model and all community events and programmes are planned so they contribute towards the five ways to well-being.

We are also doing what we can to give the people of Merivale an opportunity to practice the five Puahou ways in various aspects of their own lives.

There are lots of ways readers of this report can be involved too. We need directors with experience and ability in governance for our community Board. We need people with experience in business start-ups and running micro businesses to partner with the Centre.

We want to involve people who can advocate for change at national level and start the sort of discussions and debate that will help address the issues raised in this report. Closer to home, we would love to hear from people who want to work alongside us to develop new programmes and initiatives for the people of Merivale.

With your help Puahou can make Merivale flourish.


APPENDIX 1: ENHANCING HAPPINESS AND WELL-BEING There has been an upsurge of interest in happiness and


There has been an upsurge of interest in happiness and wellbeing recently, partly as people and communities increasingly start to question the narrow focus on economic factors and also with a sense that there has been too great a focus on neuroses and social problems and not enough on what kind of activities and policies actually contribute to happier societies.

Happiness has always been a focus for human striving. Aristotle believed that “human happiness is so important it transcends all other worldly considerations.” For kant, happiness was the “end all men sought in life.” In the 18th century the founding fathers of the united States declared independence with the memorable phrase ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. The idea that politics should be about creating “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” goes back to the end of the 18th century and the philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

When people are asked to the question “what is the most important thing in life?” – “happiness” seems to be the most common answer. The typical, runner-up answers are:

“love,” “success,” “good health,” and “my religion.” but it seems that for more than 50% of people, the answer is happiness.

When asked to define happiness many people will talk about the things that make them happy, confusing causes with effects - things like money, success, relationships and love may cause the thing called “happiness”. Other people will often use synonyms of the word “happiness” to define it. Words like contentment, satisfaction,

and fulfilment describe the thing called “happiness.” This doesn’t define “happiness,” it merely describes it using other words that mean essentially the same thing.

Happiness is essentially an internal experience. It is totally subjective and completely psychological. (1.) In recent years, as the research in this area has progressed, many researchers have decided to rename “happiness” using newer scientific labels like “life-satisfaction” or “subjective well-being.” This has come about in part because well- being and quality of life seem more amenable to intervention, apparently somehow more worthy of focus than just happiness.

Some people regard happiness as a special type of mental state. A positive emotion or feeling described by words like contentment, a sense of well-being, satisfaction, etc. Indeed, on a biological and a psychological level (possibly even on a philosophic level), happy emotion may not only be the most important thing in life, it a may be the whole point to life.

This view is consistent with that of the dalai lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet who has said “I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness… “

MeAsuriNg hAppiNess

While there are a wide variety of tools used by researchers to attempt to measure levels of happiness we know that that the results of the

majority of these tests correlate extremely well with people’s response to a single question:

“If you consider your life as a whole how satisfied would you say you are?” Respondents are offered a range of potential answers such as ‘very satisfied’ to ‘not at all satisfied’, or sometimes a scale from 0 to 7 or 0 – 10. The responses to these types of questions are very robust. They compare well to physical observations of pleasure — such as smiling and laughing, to electrical activity in parts of the brain, as well as other people’s assessment of how happy the respondent is. The questions have also been tested on bilingual people and within bilingual nations and translate well into other languages.

hAppiNess reseArCh

Studies of life satisfaction around the world indicate that the highest levels of satisfaction are found in such northern European countries as denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden. These are countries with a strong sense of social solidarity and attention to work-life balance, small income gaps, and—contrary to the thinking of economic free- market fundamentalists — high taxation rates.

Income is not irrelevant to peoples happiness, people in wealthy countries are generally happier than those in less wealthy ones. However, beyond the level at which income enables people to do a little more than meet their basic needs there is very little lasting increase in general levels of happiness.

Research suggests that levels of happiness change over the course of people’s lives.


For the majority of people, the most miserable

period in their life is in their forties.


that most people’s levels of happiness climb and continue to do so. It seems that men are slightly happier on average than women in their teens, but women bounce back and overtake men later in life. The low point in the forties seems to last longer for women, only climbing again once they reach 50.

One of the most characteristic things people do when they’re happy is to become more sociable, friendlier and more loving than is typical. They show a rise in social interaction and participation at such times and are more socially receptive and cooperative. Their behaviour is characterised with smiling and laughter and they become much more talkative.

Research also suggests that there is a powerful link between happiness and health. It has been suggested that pursuing policies that make people happier could do more for the health of a nation than all the exercise, diet and anti-smoking campaigns rolled into one. Policies aimed at making people happier (or at least less unhappy) should be encouraged in an effort to prevent people becoming ill in the first place.

There is debate around the issue of causality. In most cases Psychologists find evidence to support both view points. Happy people are more likely to be healthy and healthy people are more likely to be happy. Similarly happy people are more likely to be sociable and sociable people are more likely to be happy. Happy moods can therefore be both cause and

effect. Happy moods can cause good things to happen, and good things can cause happy moods to happen. Indeed, both processes often fuel one another – an upward spiral where emotion and behaviour feed each other.

Social connection seems to be integral to happiness as does freedom from hunger and physical insecurity but after moderate levels of comfort and security are met, other factors assert themselves. Among them are a sense of control over one’s life, friends and relatives one can count on, trust in one’s neighbours, generosity, freedom (the highest scores in research asking about freedom occur from precisely the Scandinavian countries sometimes mocked as “nanny states”). Religion is definitely a plus for individuals, but probably because it helps build social connections. Countries with the most religious fervour, like the united States, don’t necessarily rank near the top in life satisfaction.

geogaphic location does not make much difference to happiness, but the economic climate of one’s community does. Residents of poorer economic communities will, on average, be unhappier than the residents of prosperous communities. This factor is irrespective of the income they actually make. This means that everything else being equal, a person is less likely to be happy in a poor community than they are in a wealthy one. The upward (or downward) spiral effect works here too. Members of improving communities report higher happiness rates than do long term stable communities while members of declining communities tend to report falling rates of happiness.

CoMpoNeNts of hAppiNess

Psychologists often refer to a “Set range” - a baseline level of happiness for individuals, largely set by genetics. The strongest evidence for this comes from a study of identical twins conducted by david lykken, from the university of Minnesota. Some 40% – 50% of the likelihood that twins separated at birth will describe themselves as happy is accounted for by common genetic factors, not environmental differences in their lives. Major events, bad or good, cause temporary fluctuations in this level of happiness, but the tendency over time is to return to one’s natural ‘set-point’.

Current Circumstances refer to things such as:

marriage/partnership, age, health, education, climate, religion. These account for about 8% - 15% of variance in happiness.

Voluntary variables refer to the things that people do have control over and include variables that train the mind/brain (35% - 52%).

Most people are aware of what brings them pleasure. But the trouble is that all too often it is fleeting and does not last. Positive psychology suggests that two other ingredients are necessary if we want to achieve more lasting happiness. Firstly people need to be really engaged and engrossed in what they do. This is referred to as “flow” - the feeling people get when they just do not even bother to look at the clock because they are so engrossed in what they are doing. Secondly people need meaning in their lives. We can get this from doing an interesting job, or working on

a project we really believe in, or by doing something worthwhile. While we adapt quickly to more money and material possessions, it seems we adapt less quickly, if at all, to meaningful things.

The New Economics Foundation based in the uk suggest that alongside satisfaction, there is an independent aspect of well-being that is to do with curiosity and personal development. This two dimensional model of well-being has Happiness capturing satisfaction, pleasure, enjoyment and contentment and Personal development capturing curiosity, enthusiasm, absorption, flow, exploration, commitment and creative challenge.

hAppiNess levels fAlliNg?

What is most intersting is that despite rising levels of gdP and incomes, happiness levels are static at best and more commonly falling across the developed world. Why is that?

We would argue that over the last 50 or so years there has been a steady erosion of intrinsic values at the expenses of extrinsic values. This shift has been driven by a deception - that more money and more ‘stuff’ will make us happier. A deception so often repeated and so internalised that it has become all but invisible to people as they seek ways to find meaning in their lives and to enhance their happiness and wellbeing. Providing stuff for our families may give us fleeting satisfaction but the research and our own intuition tells us it will not make us any happier.

The way we structure our lives is generally in service to this deception and so we neglect the relationships, the compassion for others and the time for ourselves that we need in order for us to live flourishing lives.

beyoNd iNdividuAlisM

In discussing ways in which individuals can work on their happiness we should sound a warning note about using what may amount to an individualised, deficit approach to the challenge of lifting people’s levels of happiness and wellbeing.

Seligman’s positive psychology, and indeed most of the ‘self help’ industry have dominant themes of individualism and an emphasis on the necessity of changing the way that you see the world. There is a neglect of the impact of structural inequalities on happiness and wellbeing. This relentless optimism about the capacity of individuals to improve their own mental health is combined with contempt for ideas and theories which suggest that this capacity might be subject to any constraints whatsoever, whether these are the effects of negative childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect or of structural oppressions such as racism or sexism.

We would argue that the human resources of the core economy, delivered through empowered communities, are an essential component of peoples happiness. Structural inequalities are at the heart of what is getting in the way and the ‘rugged individualism’ of the self-help industry and the positive psychologists fails to accord these the

importance they deserve. Indeed we can see that the self-help industry has grown and thrived at a time when happiness levels have been falling and levels of depression, mental illness and suicide rising. Perhaps the self help industry has been part of the problem and not, as they would claim, part of a solution!


In 2003 the Psychologist gregg Easterbrook pointed out how life (in the developed world) today, viewed from the past, seems marvelous and how even the poor today live much better lives than their counterparts a few generations ago. Easterbrook helps explain why, despite these facts, our psychological lives are not improving at the same pace. He discusses the ‘hedonic treadmill’ - adapting to good things and so not benefiting from them long term. The ‘Social treadmill’ - being driven by status and celebrity, and the ‘negativity bias’ – the way that fear and ‘what’s wrong’ often trumps the positive.

Economist Professor Richard Easterlin suggests that “A better theory of happiness builds on the evidence that adaptation and social comparison affect utility less in the non- pecuniary [such as social relationships and health] than pecuniary [financial] domains. Because individuals fail to anticipate the extent to which adaptation and social comparison undermines expected utility in the pecuniary domain, they allocate an excessive amount of time to pecuniary goals, and short-change non- pecuniary ends such as family life and health, reducing their happiness”. Easterlin argues that there is a need to devise policies that


APPENDIX 2: MEASURING PROGRESS - GDP, HDI, GPI, HPI will yield better-informed individual preferences, and thereby



will yield better-informed individual preferences, and thereby increase individual and societal well-being.

This view is backed up by the work of Tim kasser, an American psychologist with a particular interest in the relationship between personal well-being and ecological sustainability, who has shown that people who prioritise material values are likely to report lower levels of satisfaction with their lives.

It was Torstein Veblen coined the term ‘conspicuous consumption’ in 1899. He proposed that people sought status through conspicuous consumption, which derived its value not from the intrinsic worth of what was consumed but from the fact that it permitted people to try to set themselves apart from others. Two Canadian Professors of Economics Curtis Eaton and Mukesh Eswaran whose work owes much to Veblen argue that too much affluence can seriously damage a nations health pointing out that as average wealth rises people grow richer but not happier. As wealth in society grows people will tend increasingly to choose ‘veblen’ goods over other goods.

Thus, today’s lavish jewellery, designer clothes, luxury cars, cosmetic surgery, super-yachts and private jets represent a no-win situation for society. They satisfy the owners (temporarily) but everyone else is left feeling worse off. Those with below average wealth are not able to afford these goods and this has a negative effect on their happiness. Eaton and Eswaran also note that as people yearn for more status symbols they have less time or inclination to

help others, damaging the community and trust which are vital to an economy because they ensure the smooth running of society.

British psychologist Oliver James developed the idea of ‘Affluenza’ – pointing out that prizing endless increases in material wealth may lead to feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction rather than experiences of a ‘better life’, and that these symptoms may be usefully captured with the metaphor of a disease. He claims some or even many of those who become wealthy will find the economic success leaves them unfulfilled and hungry only for more wealth, finding that they are unable to get pleasure from the things they buy and that increasingly material things may come to dominate their time and thoughts to the detriment of personal relationships and to feelings of happiness.

Clive Hamilton and Richard dennis argue that affluenza causes over-consumption, “luxury fever”, consumer debt, overwork, waste, and harm to the environment. These pressures lead to “psychological disorders, alienation and distress” causing people to “self-medicate with mood-altering drugs and excessive alcohol consumption”

James asserts that there is a correlation between the increasing nature of affluenza and the resulting increase in material inequality:

the more unequal a society, the greater the unhappiness of its citizens.

The ‘Spirit level’ research findings by Wilkinson and Pickett would support this view. Their research has demonstrated the

“pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption.” Based on thirty years of research, they claim that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are substantially worse in more unequal rich countries.

We note that a recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and development (OECd) report titled ‘growing unequal - income distribution and poverty in OECd Countries’ has shown that New Zealand is one of the most unequal nations in the OECd, with an income gap wider than 21 of the 30 developed countries in the organisation. The report found that the income gap widened more in New Zealand than in any other OECd country between the mind 1980s and mid 1990s, with the exception of Mexico. While the gap in New Zealand has narrowed slightly since that time, it has narrowed much more strongly in Mexico, meaning that the increase in inequality over the 20-year period looked at in the study was greater in New Zealand than in any other developed country. Today the richest ten per cent of New Zealanders earn nine times as much as the bottom ten per cent. This contrasts with neighbouring Australia where the richest tenth earn seven times the poorest. The implication for the people of Merivale, who are in the bottom 10% of New Zealand communities in terms of levels of deprivation, is therefore grim.

Organised and developed societies have always wanted to measure progress, seeking to demonstrate that policies, initiatives and the way they run on a day-to-day basis lead to tangible benefits for their citizens.

Early attempts to measure progress headed quickly to economic factors in part because there was very little consensus or understanding of what ‘wellbeing’ and ‘happiness’ actually were, let alone if they could be reliably measured. Because of this direction ‘progress’ was defined in predominantly economic terms with components such as happiness and wellbeing seen as fuzzy and unscientific.


Historically gross domestic Product (gdP) was the tool most used by developed countries internationally as the measure of progress. gdP is defined as:

‘the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports.’

Studies of the relationship between economic growth measured by gdP and personal levels of happiness report that happiness increases with gdP while gdP is growing, but only up to a certain level. Beyond this level, gdP increases do not lead to more personal happiness. In the uk, happiness and wellbeing have essentially flat-lined since the 1970s despite significant increases in gdP and levels

of personal income and material consumption. In every country studied, reports of personal happiness level off after gdP continues to grow. Even five-fold increases in gdP, as occurred in Japan over the 20th century, have not lead to increases in personal happiness.

In NZ over the decade to 2008, gdP grew by an average of 3.2%. In the same period our disposable incomes rose by around 12.6%. The statistics show that these increases have not made us happier. Indeed, the incidence of depression and other mental disorders jumped sharply in the 1990s; 47% of New Zealanders will now suffer mental illness at some point in their lives. New Zealand has the fourth-highest male suicide rate of 13 OECd nations, and the second highest young male suicide rate.

iNAdequAte MeAsures

It has long been recognised that traditional macro-measures of national income such as gdP are inadequate measures of the performance of an economy and wider society. They are unable to give value to environmental and social capital and are unable to capture the performance of a country in sustainability terms. despite this, gdP still tends to be reported as synonymous with economic progress by journalists and politicians. Indeed we only need to reflect on the overwhelming quantity and focus on economic news, conditions, analysis and speculation to realise that the debate has excluded the very subject that is most important in people’s lives.


While media corporations may have realised that the happiness research challenges the consumerist dream-world upon which their advertising revenues depend, their failure to report on the implications of the research is probably no accident. They are in the business of selling readers to advertisers, not telling readers that advertising is irrelevant to their happiness.

Although we remain in thrall to a globalised economic fundamentalism which remains steadfast in opposition to ways of thinking that see human lives as anything other than units on an economic balance sheet, there is some high level and influential support for doing things differently. According to Jose Manuel Barros, European Commission President: “gdP is unfit to reflect many of today’s challenges, such as public health, climate change, and the environment. We cannot face the challenges of the future with the tools of the past”


There have been numerous attempts to develop other measurement tools to “shift the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people centred policies.” An early example of this is the united Nations Human development Index, which is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of “human development” The HdI composes data on life expectancy at birth, education and general standard of living.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and development (OECd), made up of about thirty of the world’s richest nations, seems

to be taking happiness studies increasingly seriously. It is looking for a whole new set of indicators on which to judge the progress of member countries. Its new “global Project” aims at collecting “best practices”—social and economic policies that are clearly shown to increase life satisfaction.

In the uk, the local government Act 2000 included a new power of wellbeing, providing local authorities with the power to do whatever they consider necessary to promote or improve the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of their area. In 2006 the uk government’s Whitehall Wellbeing Working group developed a definition intended as a statement of common understanding of wellbeing for policy makers:

“Wellbeing is a positive physical, social and mental state; it is not just the absence of pain, discomfort and incapacity. It arises not only from the action of individuals, but from a host of collective goods and relationships with other people. It requires that basic needs are met, that individuals have a sense of purpose, and that they feel able to achieve important personal goals and participate in society. It is enhanced by conditions that include supportive personal relationships, involvement in empowered communities, good health, financial security, rewarding employment, and a healthy and attractive environment”.

In 2010 The uk government announced that is would start to measure happiness as well as economic growth, with david Cameron suggesting that he wanted Britain to be “in the

vanguard” of efforts around the world to change the accepted measures of national progress “rather than following meekly behind”.


The genuine Progress Indicator (gPI) is a concept that has been suggested to replace, or supplement, gross domestic product (gdP) as a metric of economic growth. gPI attempts to undertake a more holistic measure of welfare than gdP. It incorporates aspects of the non-market economy, separating welfare- enhancing benefits from welfare-detracting costs, correcting for the unequal distribution of income, and distinguishing between sustainable and unsustainable forms of consumption (Talbert et al. 2007). Among the nations for which a gPI has been developed are the united States, the united kingdom, germany, Australia, China and India. The data for European countries and the united States show a steady decline over the last 30 years and there is little reason to assume that New Zealand would be any different.

gPIs start to introduce broader ideas around quality of life. The term quality of life is used to evaluate the general well-being of individuals and societies. There is no one generally accepted definition and the term is used in a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, and political science. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead,

standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment, but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.

An Auckland study represents a unique first step in creating a gPI for the Auckland region. It is one of the first fully evaluated gPIs to be developed within the New Zealand context. It is among only a few sub-national gPIs to be developed globally, building on past efforts aimed at improving measurement of national well-being or genuine progress. Every component represents either, an addition to, or subtraction from, the total personal consumption expenditure figures for each year.

The component headings covered are: Climate Change, Commuting, Crime, Household & Community, Work, Health, Noise Pollution, Non-Renewable, Overwork, Ozone depletion, Personal Consumption, Public Capital, Public Consumption, Soil, Solid Waste & Contaminated Sites, underemployment, unemployment, Water Quality, Wetlands.

In Wellington, one of the key elements of the Wellington Regional Strategy (WRS) is sustainable economic growth and ensuring a high quality of life for residents and newcomers. The WRS document sets out how the Strategy will be monitored, utilising a

genuine Progress Index.

The components

of the index are: Prosperous Community, Connected Community, Entrepreneurial and Innovative Region, Healthy Environment , Quality lifestyle, Sense of Place, Regional Foundations, Healthy Community, Strong and Tolerant Community.


More recent research is introducing ideas around climate change, resource peaks and economic problems that have relevance for this field. This ecological/environmental dimension has been factored into the Happy Planet Index (HPI), which has been developed by the New Economics Foundation. The HPI is an innovative measure that shows the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered around the world. It combines environmental impact with well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which country by country, people live long and happy lives. The HPI reflects the average years of happy life produced by a given society, nation or group of nations, per unit of planetary resources consumed. Put another way, it represents the efficiency with which countries convert the earth’s finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens. The global HPI incorporates three separate indicators: ecological footprint, life-satisfaction and life expectancy.

NEF stress the importance of developing a new narrative, that it is possible to have a good life with increasing levels of happiness without costing the earth. The economy must sustain society and the environment, rather than grow at their expense.