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The Future Search Hui on Waiheke Island, 2020

From October 30th to November 1st, I was invited to attend the Waiheke Island Future Search Hui.

The focus of this fantastic event was to discuss the protection and regeneration of Waiheke Island’s Marine Environment. The Hui brought together around 76 people from mana whenua, marine business, fishers and boaties, conservationists, scientists, youth, locals, agencies, and land interests.

© WWF New Zealand
The Future Search Hui attendees on Waiheke Island

Throughout the three days of participatory activities, we went from discussing our personal experiences, to events that have shaped global society, to eventually working out time-bound action plans for achieving our shared goals. These goals were all agreed upon via consensus from the 76 voices in the room. If there was no agreement, the goal was taken off the list.

The methodology known as Future Search is essentially a principles-based planning approach, dating back to 1991, that has been used all over the world by communities, organisations and businesses. The principles for this particular event were based on the following: honouringTe Tiriti o Waitangi; ensuring all views/perspectives were represented; using a global context for location action; focussing on common ground (rather than on individual problems); and self-management giving each person the opportunity to have a leadership role.

The energy and passion in the room throughout the three days was invigorating! It was evident that everyone was there because we all desired a future in which our marine environment is thriving, healthy, and abundant. So many people had personally witnessed decline in ocean health, caused by a range of factors, including population growth, poor management of wastewater, unsustainable activities at sea, and a host of other issues.

The people of Waiheke, with strong leadership from Ngāti Pāoa, clearly identify with their island in a way that those on the mainland cannot. Their island ecosystem means that their resources are limited, but it also provides a huge opportunity for them to manage these resources collectively and create a sense of identity of which they can all be proud. The next steps for this group are to present the work in a public exhibition, where the wider community will be encouraged to provide feedback and participate in action going forward. This is set to take place later in the month.

I am incredibly proud to have been part of this event, and in awe of the huge team of people (many of them volunteers) that pulled this event together. I was also heartened to see that people who would not traditionally be part of a conversation about marine conservation, were prepared to put their time and energy into the conversation. It is only through the collective action of all people that we will see real change on the ground, so this collaborative planning activity was, in my opinion, a huge success.

WWF-New Zealand looks forward to seeing the next steps unfold, and to support these initiatives in whatever form they take.

I tautoko Ngāti Pāoa and the Waiheke Marine Project for their awesome leadership of this engaging event.

Ngā mihi

Lucy Jacob

WWF-NZ Ocean Programme Manager