OneAction NZ

Democracy Co-operative

Your Place

Posted by Rhys Goodwin on August 31, 2021 · 4 mins read

While you’re at your place in lockdown, it’s a great time to think about your place in Aotearoa New Zealand. We tend to think a lot about our place in the home, at work, in clubs and in the community. But we don’t tend to think so much about our place in steering this ship Aotearoa New Zealand. After all, it’s our ship, our waka. No matter who you are, you have something to contribute to the conversation – and the conversation needs you – it needs you to listen, and it needs you to speak.

This is a responsibilities framework that is used in one of my Massey courses. It’s a bit limited because it doesn’t take into account a traditional Māori world view which would more clearly explain responsibilities to the land. But it’s a useful tool that looks at how responsibility is taken across three sectors.

While it’s not shown in the diagram, it’s fair to say that the private sector relies on civil society, and civil society relies on the public sector - the place where politics happens. The point is, at the bedrock of our society we have a mechanism that helps us work together – our public sector – the place where the rules of the game are set for everyone.

Again, it’s not explicit in the framework but there is also a link between the indvidual, local, national, and global. As individuals, we bear the responsibility of all the higher levels. What this means is that indvidual responsibility for the public sector is at the root of good governance, a flourishing civil society, and a productive, socially-conscious private sector. It all comes down to us taking responsibility. Without us, all the weight of responsibility falls to our politicians, and not surprisingly they often buckle or fail to act.

The question is then: how are we supposed to take responsibility? The responsibilities framework suggests the way we take responsibility is by participating. It mentions voting, petitioning, and making submissions. The problem is all of these are fairly limited.

Firstly, voting gives us a direct say in the make-up of the government. On the face of it, that’s a powerful notion, but only if your party or MP represents your views and values. Unfortunately, the political parties of today are focused on understanding the best ways to get votes, rather than on understanding your views and values. Secondly, while signing a petition is a quick and easy thing to do, governments are under no obligation to listen. Finally, making submissions, for example to a parliamentary select committee is probably one of the best ways to get your voice into the mix but it’s time consuming and requires knowledge of the system. Life is busy and most of us just don’t have the time.

Coming back to the original challenge – to think about your place in Aotearoa – are we, as everyday New Zealanders, taking enough responsibility for the direction of our country? What if we had a way that made it super easy for everyday people to share the views and values that go into directing Aotearoa?

That’s exactly what OneAction is setting out to build. Even if you still don’t think you’d have time to participate, do you at least support the idea that the direction of this country should be set by its people? At this stage that’s all we’re looking for. We’re just looking for people to put their hand up and say ‘yep, that’s a good idea, we should build something like that’. You can show your support for the idea by joining the monthly TallyUp. Once there’s enough of us, we’ll get to building.

Ngā mihi

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