In December 2015, the McGuinness Institute under took a three-day workshop in collaboration with the
New Zealand Treasury. Its purpose was to explore ways to reduce poverty in New Zealand. This workshop has led to a number of outputs, one of which includes undertaking a tour of one-day workshops around New Zealand throughout 2016.

The first stop of the TacklingPovertyNZ tour was in Queenstown on 29 March 2016 at the Queenstown Memorial Centre. The workshop was opened by Vanessa van Uden, Queenstown Lakes District Council Mayor, who discussed how the problem of poverty is ours to solve. She stated that we need to ask ourselves ‘what can I do?’

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Mayor Vanessa van Uden opens the workshop

In the morning, the participants listened to six of the original 36 participants from the December 2015
TacklingPovertyNZ workshop present the booklet they produced as a result of the workshop.

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Six participants from the December 2015 TacklingPovertyNZ workshop presented at the 29 March event. From left to right: Caitlin Papuni-McLellan, Monique Francois, Ali Bunge, Regan Thwaites, Eden Iati and Elizabeth Maddison.

Participants then heard from the New Zealand Treasury’s Chief Economist, Dr Girol Karacaoglu, the former chief executive of Auckland City Mission, Dame Diane Robertson, and Chief Education Officer of the Baby Box Co, Jennifer Weber. In the booklet, the December 2015 participants discuss the idea of introducing a baby box based on the Finland model to New Zealand. Unbeknown to the 36 participants at the time of developing the booklet, the Baby Box Co in Canada and Australia have developed a baby box.


Panelists Dame Diane Robertson, Dr Girol Karacaoglu, Hine Marchand and Jennifer Weber

Dr Girol Karacaoglu spoke about the need for integration between social, economic and environmental matters and shared with the group how the Treasury uses the Living Standards Framework to frame policy.
Dame Diane Robertson then spoke to the group about the factors that prevent families moving out of poverty, and her work with the Families 100 Research Project. Jennifer Weber discussed the Baby Box Co initiative. Six of the participants from the December 2015 workshop later gifted a baby box to the Queenstown Lakes District Council.


Hine Marchand, Community Ministries Worker for the Salvation Army in Queenstown, and Nicky Mason, of Happiness House, share their observations and ideas.


Wakatipu High School with Dr Girol Karacaoglu.

Local speakers, Hine Marchand, Community Ministries Worker for the Salvation Army in Queenstown, and Nicky Mason, of Happiness House in Queenstown gave participants an insight into poverty in Queenstown Lakes. They raised problems such as low incomes, high housing costs, worker accommodation and the impact these factors have on relationships and anxiety. All five speakers then joined discussions with the participants and mapped the societal landscape of the Queenstown Lakes region. Over lunch, economics students from Wakatipu High School joined a Q & A session with Dr Girol Karacaoglu.

In the afternoon, groups discussed challenges and opportunities in the local area. During this process four key themes emerged – the role of housing, the role of business, the role of community and the role of everything else (others). Each group developed seven solutions and then presented them to the participants to stress test their ideas.

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Work-shopping ideas.

At 6.00 pm, members of the community gathered at the Queenstown Memorial Hall to hear the speakers’ observations of the day, followed by the 28 workshop solutions. By the end of the day, the participants had a deeper understanding of the issues facing their community and as a group they developed solutions seeking to tackle poverty.


The public presentation that evening. This one hour presentation enabled those that could not attend the workshop during the day to hear ideas on how the local community might tackle poverty going forward.

Thank you
The event would not have been possible without the ongoing support of the New Zealand Treasury, local collaborators Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Catalyst Trust, and local sponsors Deco Backpackers and The Rees Hotel. We would like to thank these local organisations for helping make this workshop possible.


Vanessa van Uden, Queenstown Lakes District Council Mayor, closes the workshop.

Next steps
The next step in this process is for the McGuinness Institute to develop a discussion paper. We will try to map local issues and local solutions – ideally looking for solutions that might help other communities. This paper will be public in the next few months and will be given to the Chief Economist at the New Zealand Treasury. The series of discussion papers will map the issues for local communities and provide a range of solutions with an overarching aim to contribute to a national conversation on tackling poverty.

The next stop on the TacklingPovertyNZ tour is tentatively booked for Rotorua on 19 August 2016. Other regional councils that we are currently in discussion with include The Far North, Gisborne, and the Manawatu.

Our aim is to contribute to a national conversation about how New Zealand might tackle poverty. After each workshop we will prepare a discussion paper, outlining the topics discussed and the participants key findings. In addition to being public, the discussion paper will be given to the Chief Economist at the New Zealand Treasury. We hope that the resulting paper will be useful to the local community, contributing to a deeper discussion on the types of issues and possible solutions within their community.

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Attendees continue the conversation over refreshments.

Consequently by the end of 2016, the tour will deliver a series of papers from throughout New Zealand that together will illustrate where similarities exist and where unique interventions might be necessary. We also hope the papers will provide insights and support for local and national policy solutions.

If you are interested in any of the upcoming workshops, please email

About TackingPovertyNZ
The TacklingPovertyNZ workshop brought together 36 young New Zealanders between the ages 18 and 25 to prepare a youth perspective on the issue of poverty in New Zealand and how we might, as a country, go about tackling it. Participants spent most of their 72 hours in Wellington working hard at Treasury, in order to present their findings to MPs and other guests at the finale at Parliament on Wednesday, 9 December 2015.

Every year, the McGuinness Institute has worked in collaboration with the New Zealand Treasury to create a place for young New Zealanders to explore complex public policy issues together. The workshops have always proved exciting, enjoyable and insightful. The McGuinness Institute would particularly like to thank the staff at the New Zealand Treasury for their continued support and encouragement. This initiative is ongoing and we will be releasing further developments on the TacklingPovertyNZ website. To see the final presentation or those of speakers, please watch the Institute’s YouTube TacklingPovertyNZ Playlist. To read the participants’ recommendations download their booklet (published 19 February 2016), or to learn more about the 2015 workshop, please start here.