A meeting – under the aegis of the National Residents’ Association Database and the Draco Foundation – took place in Christchurch city on 21st April 2012: the Christchurch City Residents’ Groups Forum.* I went along for Cashmere residents and the outdoor residents of Occupy. Forty or more committee representatives of residents’ groups in the Christchurch area attended, shared some experience and one priority for action, and through workshops resolved a basic agreement for future work:

1. Contact between local residents’ groups should be continued and improved, through attending each other’s committee meetings where possible and keeping personnel and meeting details updated here:
a. Community INformation CHristchurch – CINCH.org.nz run by the city council; and
b. National Database of Residents’ Associations – NRAD, residents.org.nz

2. The geographic area that we wish to associate residents’ groups within is urban Selwyn and Waimakariri districts and Christchurch city, or “Greater Christchurch” as known under its Urban Development Strategy.

3. The single political issue – needed to focus and energise our residents’ groups for sustaining critical mass – was endorsed, by acclamation, to be: The housed assisting those without housing to achieve even temporary accommodation, towards more settled lives long-term.

The New Zealand political economy is a top-down, Crown and Treaty-orientated system of purported democracy. Ultimately, however, justice for the many here requires a root-and-branch constitutional transformation, into bottom-up decision-making: real and practical democracy, from the street level, directly. In the current upset Greater Christchurch context, out of civil emergency, this requires that the city rebuild (or urban renewal) be matched – in equal measure – with a deep-seated democratic renewal, that involves people in their own future like never before. This we have had to learn; recovery otherwise will not happen. Resident groups are probably the core building blocks for moving New Zealand society forward, thus, and we must be ready to lead the way.

Many thanks to Jarrod Coburn and Jim Candiliotis, and their support team, for the time put into facilitating this choice civil society event. Looking forward to the next GCR Forum. Kia ora!

* “An idea supported by all groups present was the formation of a Federation of Residents’ Associations in Christchurch. The President of the Wellington City federation was invited to speak about what his organisation achieves for its members, and work is currently underway to develop a charter for the federation and a residents’ association ‘Bill of Rights’.”

Neighbouring resident groups that should now interact and learn from each other, as a cluster?:
Beckenham Neighbourhood Association – meets 4th Monday monthly, 7.30pm
Cashmere Residents’ Association – meets 3rd Wednesday monthly, 7.30pm
Cracroft Residents’ Association – meets 1st Monday monthly
Westmorland Residents Association – meets monthly
Halswell Community – RA meets last Monday monthly, 7.30pm in St Mary’s Church Hall