Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga is a community alliance rising to the challenge of growing voice and power in Aotearoa NZ. Funded for three years by the Peter McKenzie Project (PMP), the alliance is currently drawing together sponsoring organisations to map out the first phase of its development.
Built on a broad-based community organising model, Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga will be comprised of community, union, faith and other relevant groupings from across civil society. The doors are open wide as the alliance seeks to ensure it is diverse, powerful and self-sustaining.
The Maori Women’s Welfare League, a sponsoring organisation, gifted a name, which reflects the values that will underpin the work of the alliance as it builds from grassroots community need to national systemic and structural change. The name Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga speaks of a collective of groups working together for the whole, while maintaining the integrity of each member organisation. It captures tautoko (support), awhi (embrace, assist), manaakitanga (care), utu (reciprocity), aroha (love), and mahitahi (working together for the common good).
“Communities know what is wrong, they know what has to change, but to fix the way things currently work, requires a breadth of leadership and organisational commitment that gives voice to these issues, and it requires disciplined organisation to ensure these voices are heard,” says Annie Newman from E tū, another sponsoring organisation.
The methodology is grounded in the work of Saul Alinsky and the Industrial Areas Foundation. Diverse groups come together and, through a process of listening and collectively defining and shaping the issues, they develop a programme of work that represents the interests of local people committed to growing the power and effectiveness of their own communities.
Current sponsoring organisations are: Sisters of Mercy, Wiri, E tū, Anglican Diocese of Auckland, St Matthew-in-the-City, Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Auckland, Methodist Mission Northern, Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ, Salvation Army, Urban Neighbourhoods of Hope, Pacific Women’s Watch, Maori Women’s Welfare League, Auckland Action Against Poverty, and the Auckland Women’s Centre.