Model of Tonga double-hulled Waka

Porirua’s forthcoming talanoa-wānanga experiment in deliberative community governance

A transcript of Helmut Modlik's address, and the subsequent Q & A, at Trust Democracy's Annual General Meeting that was held on 12 April 2022.
If you’d prefer to watch or listen to Helmut’s talk and the discussion, please click here.
Helmut Modlik
Tumu Whakarae, Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira

Kia ora mai tatou.

I confess when I was invited to spend some time with you tonight I was surprised and impressed that there was such an organisation of thoughtful and hearty souls who have given up the time to apply minds and effort, trying to improve the design and operation of our society. So, first, I just want to acknowledge and recognise you all for the wisdom of that endeavour in making the choice to participate in something like this.

So I’m very pleased to meet you and happy to support your endeavour and, as it will become clear, we’re kindred spirits in respect of what I understand you’re trying to achieve.

Just by way of introduction, I think it’s important for you to understand where I’m coming from on the topic – it’ll help to explain some of the answers to the questions about what’s actually going on and what’s driving this work here in Porirua around our taonga moana.

I guess the first observation I would make is that we were all reminded very recently, that the nearly catastrophic protests that played out in parliament in recent times, that, you know, that our civil society is a fiction. It’s only given flesh, made real, by the consent of the governed. And that, you know, I think a salutary lesson for us all is that if a significant enough portion of the governed withdraw their consent to participate in our civil processes, then it all starts to break down and get ugly real quick. That’s a non-trivial observation, I think, for us all.

Going back in time, to sort of come forward as to how we’ve landed where we’re at, I guess the first observation I’d make from Ngāti Toa’s perspective, was really connected with the pandemic. December, early December 2020, you know, the government, with the support of a team of 5 million had established Fortress New Zealand, and we were, you know, smiling behind their doors, at the rest of the world that was struggling with the catastrophe of the pandemic in various locations. And I was invited to participate in a workshop by the Ministry of Health to brainstorm how it is that … how it is that we might, as a community nationwide, in due course, get something like a universal uptake, in connection with two things. One was COVID tracing. At that time, there was no tracing solution or program for its implementation but it was recognised that that would be something that would be needed, and how do we, how do we do that as a nation and get something like an ubiquitous or universal uptake of that?

And the second topic that we were brainstorming to get universality on was around the eventual vaccine rollout program. How do we achieve that? Early in the workshop, I posed the question: can anyone think of any public policy outcome that even approximates to universality or ubiquity, and it was a bit of a shock to everybody, myself included, that none of us could think of a single public policy outcome that was even remotely universally available for all New Zealanders.

Now, I have to say that came as a bit of a shock. We couldn’t think of anything: fresh water, no; education, no; healthy food, no. Nothing! Employment, education, nothing! Immediately for me, where my mind went with that was, if we don’t … if we can’t find any example of a universally available public policy outcome, it must be systemic. It must be the fact that our constitutional arrangements, our machinery of government, are not designed to deliver universal outcomes. So I pose that as a question and a challenge to the workshop, and we deliberated on it for a little while and we concluded pretty quickly: yeah, that’s a fair cop.

And I just would invite you to pause for a tick and think about what I just said. Our machinery of government, our constitutional arrangements and our machinery of government is not designed to deliver universal anything. So it doesn’t matter how clever you are, how big hearted you are, how much budget you appropriate, systemically – and we can go into what some of the examples of the systemic failures are – systemically, the hypothesis was, you will not be able to get ubiquity of social outcomes. That was a jaw dropping conclusion for me personally and, I think, for most people in the workshop.

Later that summer as I was lying around the pool and trying to relax in preparation for 2021, I pondered why that … how the blazes that had arisen. And it occurred to me, on reflection, that as recently as my grandfather’s youth and young adulthood – he was born in ’03 – the majority of the world was ruled by emperors and kings, that in my mother’s youth and young adulthood, it was still largely ruled by kings and now a bunch of dictators, both from the left and the right, with only a few fledgling democracies. And it’s actually only been in my/our lifetime that democracy has actually been anything like the norm. But of course, because it has dominated our lives, we and our children think that it’s always been thus. But it hasn’t. And, in fact, it’s only a relatively recent addition to the way generally, around the world, societies are organised.

As I’ve thought about that a little bit further, with really only the Yanks, only the Americans really, started that experiment – democracy, that is, with the idea of government by the people for the people. My take on the history of democracy in a Westminster version and many of the others was, it was really about wrenching power off the sovereign to empower, first, the lords and then the landed classes and what have you, and then we get down to our 19th, 20th, 21st century version of it. It still carries many of the characteristics of that journey of wrenched power. And so anyway, the point being is that we live with, in this land as well as most others, with a Version 1 of democracy. It actually hasn’t been around that long. And unsurprisingly, given its origins from emperors and kings, its primary design, I think, is mostly around checks and balances, control of power, which is understandable given where it came from. It’s about risk management. It’s about the security and aggregation of resources and their application and accountability for the application and so on and so forth. What it isn’t, clearly, I would argue, is about ensuring that the public policy outcomes that are decided upon to be in the best interest of society are universally available, because they aren’t.

So those were very sobering reflections for me and it was shortly thereafter I had a virtual knock on the door from the good people of The People Speak and I had hui with them and they introduced me to some related ideas around deliberative democracy and around climate change and a citizens assembly to address climate change, and made the suggestion to me or invited me to, on behalf of Ngāti Toa, to participate in a Wellington-wide citizens’ assembly on the climate change kaupapa. And as they explained to me what a citizen’s assembly was, and I saw the power of the concept, I made a counter-proposal, which was that instead of having a Wellington-wide citizens’ assembly, that we narrow the regional or geographic location to Porirua City. Reasons were, my perspective, that …

[Answering a question in the chat] Public policy outcomes, just any governmental, any government public policy is for a purpose, to deliver education, to house the people, to ensure adequate income, et cetera. That’s what I meant by public policy outcome.

So coming back to my counter-proposal to The People Speak whanau, was that if we focused on Porirua, my challenge was that, or that my idea was, that the community is a lot more discrete and, you know, easier to engage as belonging to a, you know, a smaller location. The local government is someone that we have established strong relationship with, so, I felt that, you know, we could more easily and confidently have them participate. And then, of course, from Ngāti Toa’s perspective, Porirua is our core takiwā or rohe, our traditional area, and we wouldn’t need to be having conversations with other iwi who have an interest in the Wellington, wider Wellington region. So anyway, that they thought that was a good idea and we decided that that’s, that would be the scope of our endeavour: the forming up all the citizens’ assembly on a on a Treaty basis, between mana whenua, Ngāti Toa, and the community, the tāngata tiriti, and we would work together to come up with a model for a citizens’ assembly, which would focus on the climate change kaupapa.

So we met a few times and, as Simon alluded to, it culminated in a workshop with a number of invited community leaders to share with them the idea and to discuss and see where it might take us and see if there was support for. We landed in an extraordinary place that for me personally was entirely unexpected. What I thought would happen is we’d – yep, it’s a good idea, let’s … we’ll lean in on that, let’s organise it and away we go. That was pretty much all I was expecting. But the discussion moved to a place that I think has fundamentally strengthened the experiment. So towards the end, the group that I was in, with, which had a number of Pacific leaders, made the observation that in a broader Pacific community around the Pacific Islands – Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, et cetera – that there is a forum, a concept, for deliberative discussion, a forum for that called a talanoa or tautalanoa, and it is called a talanoa, which is interestingly found, as I say, across the Pacific. And so the observation was made by these Pacific leaders that there’s nothing new about community leaders deliberating for the purpose of identifying and agreeing how best to deal with issues that relate to the community. And as we thought about that, the idea and the power of us establishing a standing committee, a talanoa, in Porirua that would enable community leaders across our city to, on some agreed basis, come together and to deliberate on issues, positively and whatever, that resonated – we liked that.

And further in that discussion, the specific mechanism of a citizens’ assembly, and I’m assuming everyone in this forum knows what a citizens’ assembly is, that in the event that, in our community, the mechanism of a citizens’ assembly is needed to augment the deliberations, decision-making and action-taking of our Poriua talanoa, we would establish one, we would call for one, we’d run one. And we ended up adopting the language of the tāngata whenua, the wānanga. So we came up with the idea of a talanoa-wānanga where the talanoa, as I say, is a standing committee that meets on some regular basis, where community leaders, who have a constituency, are inclusively invited to come together and to deliberate and discuss and agree and act, and that that talanoa forum would be augmented periodically by the operation of a wānanga or citizens’ assembly. And the first one that we would run is the climate change wānanga to learn and to … to learn from that process.

That’s where we got to roughly. And the energy for it, I would say, really came from the fact that – and this links back to my earlier reflections from the lessons from our COVID experience – is that what I think we’ve all observed is that central government, and to some extent, actually, local government as well, operates, almost unavoidably I would say, certainly by design currently, in a top-down manner. And their ability to actually get right down to the grassroots of our community, for a range of practical reasons – they’re not able to deliver on that. And so what we saw during the pandemic, is that if we wanted to get ubiquity, if we wanted to get universality of anything, that you have to inform, engage, empower and resource the community to participate. And that’s the only time and the only way over the last two years that we have been able to get anything like universality of anything.

So with that in mind, the idea that here in Porirua, we would stand up a … we’d run a safe-to-fail experiment, in community governance of itself, and leadership through this talanoa process, it really resonated with me and others there. And the addition of the power of the deliberative process, the citizens’ assembly, to the ecosystem really resonated well.

Now we would have run it, the first one, by now except COVID precluded that – we were planning to have it before Christmas, and then all of the traffic lights and what have you since then have precluded us being able to run that. So we’re now just taking our time to carefully plan it for as soon as possible, probably May-June is realistic, is the first time, because it’s not sensible that we do it virtually for a range of reasons, including the inclination of the communities that are here in Porirua. And so we’ll call that first one, say for May-June and I’ll just conclude with some thoughts about what we’re expecting.

Of course, at this stage, we have very little that’s nailed down. I’ve said the intention is to invite … sorry, I’ve said the intention is for the talanoa to be a forum for community leaders who have a constituency. Now that’s obviously a spectrum: you can have a constituency of one, and so there will need to be discussion and agreement reached on the parameters for our talanoa. But that’s okay, we’ll work that up. In the first instance, the community leaders who are invited along … we’re on pretty safe ground that they are, for want of a better description, legitimate community leaders. But it’s not obvious to me why it can’t be very, very inclusive. And that it’s not obvious to me why we would want to limit, other than from a practical point of view.

Clearly there’s going to be some learning to be had in terms of how we run it – what our tikanga is, our rules, our engagement, how we chair and all the rest of it.

At this stage Ngāti Toa’s the one that’s putting out the karanga or the call for people to come and participate in it. It is going to be framed up as a Treaty-based enterprise. In the first instance, the first talanoa will be held in the large wharekai or eating hall at Takapūwāhia marae in Porirua. It’s a large enough venue. I’ll chair it and, you know, but that’ll just be for starters. And we’ll decide as we go on the parameters for its operation.

Just lastly on the wānanga side, the citizens’ assembly bit, we will be reliant on the expertise of our friends from The People Speak and the others that they are connected with, who will come in, guide us and take a clear leadership role in terms of the establishment and operation of our first go at a wānanga on the climate change kaupapa.

But I do see it all as an exciting, safe-to-fail experiment in enhanced democracy, and enhanced local participation in the governance and operation of our community.

If I could just finish on this one observation: as important as it is to have better processes for deciding who decides – I mean, that’s what democracy is all about is deciding who decides. And as important as that is, in my view, that’s only part of the experiment. My observation around the COVID experience, and the lessons of the last two years is that, while improved machinery of government, of democratic processes, is vital for us to get to our Version 2 of New Zealand’s democracy, I think, equally, as important, is that we, concurrently, get a change in our operating model, i.e., how do we deliver on the decisions that our improved democracy serves up? Because the observation that I’ve made a few times now is, it’s really only through the appropriate involvement, information, and empowerment and resourcing of the community that you actually get anything that approximates to universality. So that’s what we’re about.

And why are we doing it? Because in our estimation, our overall aspiration to do everything we can to enhance the well-being, prosperity and mana of our people and community, that our current democratic processes and its machinery cannot deliver it. And so we must take it into our hands, directly, to make the changes needed to make it happen. And that is precisely what we are going to do.

Kia ora!

Simon Wright

Thank you very much, Helmut. We had a talk from someone from newDemocracy a few months back and she made the point that, as a system, democracy is about creating social cohesion and I think you’ve restated that but with mana-enhancing, and things like that added in. So that really resonates with me.

Helmut Modlik:

That’s an interesting way to frame it. Cohesion is important and is essential, obviously, in a stable society. But I suspect you could find other forms of government historically that have been stable and cohesive without being democratic. I think democracy offers us more than cohesion but it’s certainly that if it’s well operating. it certainly offers us that.

Simon Wright:

My personal take on it is: if you run the democracy well, then you’re pooling all the knowledge in a community, and all the different ways of knowing. And so, there is the possibility of radical changes in the way you think about things and approach things. So I think you can have cohesion and it doesn’t necessarily have to be all stable.

Now, we have some questions, and I can see Maureen’s hand is up.


Kia ora Helmut. Thank you for that. Although I haven’t been involved in your process, I’ve heard a lot about it from some people that are involved and I think you’re going a long way to develop relationships, trust, that reciprocity. And I like the pace of the work that you’re doing. I think, too often, organisations come in and they want a quick solution, and I think relationships in the community take time. So my question is: how do you retain the integrity of the community korero or dialogue so that the voices inform public policy? And what do you think the success of deliberation in this space would look like?

Helmut Modlik:

That’s great! A couple of questions there.

So my personal opinion is that as long as people feel like they have both a mechanism to have their voice heard, and it is genuinely heard, most people are able to live with wherever that goes. You know, we’re not used to, we’re not raised to, and we’re not used to getting everything we want but it is singularly frustrating when you have no ability to be heard or to influence. And so, I think, where I mean in my head around our ability to maintain integrity around voices is that if we’re creating, through our talanoa and wānanga, added channels for both representative voices – so that’s through the community leadership who are representatives of their constituencies – so that’s a channel for voices to be heard – as well as a channel for direct voices through the wānanga or citizens’ assembly, that adds two additional channels of community voices being heard and been able to catalyse action that currently don’t exist. And as long as we have processes for respectful and genuine dialogue, in both of those processes, I think that we go quite a long way to strengthening our citizens and our communities sense of been able to participate and make a difference.

Of course, the thing that sucks the life out of us all, democratically, is when we, when we, you know, that we feel like no matter what we say or do, it won’t make a difference. I think that’s part of the reason why our local government elections are so poorly attended to. People, you know, they have no confidence, that it’ll make a difference in their lives. And so it goes to both I think, not only the process for being heard but then it’s got to flow into action, which is why I coupled, not only the democratic but the operationalising bit.

So how do we make sure things happen? What I’ll say about that is: it is our intention, and I’m speaking on behalf of Ngāti Toa, it is our intention to not be in the business of asking people for permission about how it is we want to live, and how it is we want to improve our community. And if we have likeminded people in Porirua who, as we deliberate together … our intention is to just to row our own waka, just make it happen.

Obviously, there’ll be limits to what that can be. But politicians, both local and central, are motivated by political capital. And if they see a community that’s united, that’s acting, that’s willing to co-invest … I feel confident that they will look to leverage and obtain some of the political capital by associating with and supporting things that are consistent with their platforms. Anyway, I hope I’ve got some way to answering your questions.

Simon Wright:

Thanks Helmut. There’s one there from Tatjana and it’s about the question or remit for the wānanga on climate change. Have you got to that yet?

Helmut Modlik:

All I know at this stage is we’re going to put to the talanoa that the first wānanga we run will be on the topic of climate change and what it is that we will do, as a city and as a community, here in Porirua, to respond to the climate change emergency and it will be more refined than that – that’s my version of it – and the team that is supporting us to implement it will make sure that we’re getting the right expertise and advice on how to run that wānanga or citizens’ assembly. But that’s all we’ve got at this point or, at least, that’s all I’ve got in my head. If there are any of the team here from The People Speak that want to add to that, they can.

Simon Wright:

I see you’ve got the thumbs up from Kelly, Helmut. David, I see your hand but there’s just a couple of questions in the chat and then we’ll come to you if that’s okay. So, Helmut can you see the chat? There’s one from Annie – I could read it out but you can probably read it and just answer it directly.

Helmut Modlik:

What I’ve got here is: one concern from iwi has been they would be in minority if it were demographically representative, as such assemblies are overseas. Any thoughts about how you’d response to those concerns?

I can’t speak for all iwi but I can speak for Ngāti Toa. And in one genuine sense, whanua, Ngāti Toa doesn’t care what anybody else is planning on doing. Now what I mean by that is we … our aspiration is to do everything in our power to enhance the well-being, prosperity and mana of Ngāti Toa and all the people who live on our whenua, our rohe, right? That’s what occupies our mind, my mind every day. And our strategy for executing that is directly investing and rowing our own waka.

So we’re going to make happen whatever we think we need to do to achieve that vision. And we’re not ignoring, however, that there are a range of people who have statutory, contractual, ethical or other obligations to support that agenda. We’re just not relying on anyone else to do their job really well. We’re just going to make happen what we … it’s our vision of rangatiratanga, right?

However, in saying that, as we go about trying to deliver directly on these outcomes for our people and community, we are unsurprisingly finding lots of people of goodwill, good smarts, capability, who are similarly on a similar journey that has a logical overlap. This is one. And so my point being is, we’re happy to work with anyone, anyone, on any specific initiative that is logically consistent with or contributing to our threefold vision. This is one.

Do we care if other people go off and do other things, democratically or otherwise? People can do whatever they want. We’re trying to fill our space, be good partners, row our own waka and support anyone, anyone, who’s doing likewise.

So that’s coming at that question from a broader perspective but that’s genuinely how we see it.

Simon Wright:

This is Annie’s question: thank you, Helmut, for articulating a process that is culturally authentic and inclusive of all voices in your rohe. This is so vital for Aotearoa to be genuinely representative of the multiple values and aspirations of our diverse citizens, particularly in a way that is based in tikanga and in the lived lives and ‘kastom’ traditions of our Pacific community.

So that’s more of a comment from Annie. So she’s very appreciative. Do you want to pick up on that?

Helmut Modlik:

If I could just make a quick passing comment on that. A metaphor that came up in our workshop was the idea of a waka hourua. So the Pacific peoples including the Māori people, Polynesian peoples of the Pacific, traversed the unreasonable distances of the Pacific using these double-hulled waka – or waka hourua – and it’s the only version of the waka that’s suitable for deep water. That is a really strong metaphor for what/how we’re thinking about our talanoa-wānanga, where one hull is the tāngata whenua, which Ngāti Toa in Porirua is representative of, and the other hull is representative of the tāngata tiriti or the rest of the community, who are binding ourselves together in an authentic Treaty-based way, bringing the best of our collective cultural and experiential backgrounds to create our own waka hourua for the deep waters of our community in our society. So I won’t push the metaphor, but it’s a good one and that’s a reflection of Annie’s comment there, Simon.

Simon Wright:

We’ll move down to Kelly’s question: emperors and kings, then kings and dictators, now democracy v1. At the same time as democracy v1 has been the rise of unfettered capitalism, now having a profound effect on our politics and policies. Do you think that this evolution of democracy needs to explicitly address/take into account capitalism or will the process address this unto itself?

Helmut Modlik:

I think the latter. So, I think personally, that the essential observation, the essential strength of what it is we’re trying to accomplish together, is to conceive and implement a stronger way for ensuring the universality of what we might call good outcomes. We use the language of well-being, prosperity and mana. That’s a reasonable shorthand that most people can relate to, like. So our economic imperatives… Communism lost the war, Socialism is fighting a rearguard action, but capitalism’s undoubted aggregate productive power is carrying the day. But its distributive deficiencies, its inability to ensure the cohesion that you alluded to Simon, is the unanswered question that still vexes us all. There’s no question that in aggregate, capitalism delivers the goods. We’ve got all the evidence we need for that. But it’s the distribution problem that is vexing us all. And I’m simply of the view that our strength and Version-2-and-beyond ways of organising ourselves, we’ll make our own decisions on not just production or economic imperatives, but everything. It’s a much bigger conversation if we want to talk about capitalism, but that would be my short response to it. Kia ora, Kelly, I look forward to talking to you further about that.

Simon Wright:

David, you had your hand up before, would you like to put a question?


Well, thanks Helmut, and thanks everyone, by the way. I guess I’m trying to get my head around this. I have colleagues, they’re Pacifica colleagues actually, very well-known Pacifica people around Wellington actually, one of them has worked at fairly high level in the health sector. He guarantees to me that, for example, there is racism in the health sector. I personally, as a white guy, I doubt it. I’ve worked in education. I don’t see racism in education, for example, but in both health and in education, we see differential outcomes. And we know that Māori and Pacifica tend to do less well than others in both health and in education. And in health, you could say, well, that could be a policy failure or, in education, it might be a policy failure. But on the other hand, in health, you might have lifestyle choices and genetics, and so on and so forth. Do you see differential outcomes, Helmut, as always arising from a policy failure or do you think there could be other reasons? Is it or is it always a failure policy? Maybe it always is, if there are differential outcomes, then something has gone wrong, right at the get-go that should have been fixed, or should be fixed at some later point in time?

Helmut Modlik:

That’s a very good question. And I have no hesitation in saying that equality of outcomes is impossible without tyranny, all right? You can have the same number of people in one family with available to them all the same resources, values, gene pool and the variation in outcomes is all over the place. No, variation in outcomes, isn’t the issue. The issue was whether or not there are systemic drivers of inequality and particularly at the beginning of this cycle on the opportunity end, right?

I guess I’ll just make – and this is a big conversation and I’d love to have it with you sometime – but a quick observation I’d make around it is this … If you go to Waitangi, the Treaty House, there’s a book in there – the first time I went to Waitangi in the ’80s and I read this book in there and it was opened up on a particular page where the earliest arrivals, who’d written this book, were describing the extraordinary, in their words, the extraordinary characteristics of the New Zealanders that they encountered. And they were describing the physical prowess, the mental acuity that was evidenced by the ability of the New Zealanders to recite endless complex genealogies and other things. And basically, it was … they were describing this impressive physical and mental capabilities of these native people that the English had encountered. Well, you wouldn’t use that language to describe, on average, the physical or otherwise condition of the descendants of those people.

In 1900, when my koroua was born, or shortly thereafter, 3% of the prison population was Māori; today, it’s over 50%. In the 1920s, when the Native Schools Act was implemented, and I heard on the radio an old scratchy recording of the Minister of the Native Schools say that the purpose of the Native Schools Act is to educate the native to his proper station in life. To the boys, it is to be farmers, and to the girls, it is to be the wives of farmers. I could go on and on and on, around both the Treaty breach contributors to the impoverishment of Māori people, the public policy settings that have contributed to the deteriorating situation.

All of that is pretty well documented. But it’s all in the past and there’s not a single thing we can do about it, not a single thing, other than learn from it. And so, to my mind, the lesson to learn is in line with the sorts of thinking and conversation we’re having now about how do we leverage better our collective wisdom, get participation, engage the community and so forth? That’s the journey in front of us, which I’m excited by, but those wider questions of genetic, social, public policy contributors to current outcomes, David, big conversation, but I think you’ve got the flavour of my thoughts.


Thank you for that. That’s a very helpful sort of insight but, you know, in so many areas where we have disparate outcomes, socio-economics is a key driver. And I’ve worked personally in quantitative research as a statistician in the health sector and various other sectors, and also in the education sector. And we’ve done our best in education to try to identify exactly what it is that leads to some demographic groups under-performing relative to others. And, for example, the case of Māori and Pacifica and, but also in the case of minorities in other countries, have done a lot of this analysis, and other people have done it too. If you look at ethnicity as a predictor, it seems at the outset that might be the biggest explainer of disparities, but in fact it actually isn’t and it’s socio-economics. And, if you do the regression analyses and so forth, and you throw in all these predictors, for Māori and Pacific, it turns out not to be so important as a predictor as socio-economics. So it’s living in a deprived household and all the rest of that. So, in other words, the policy fix is not so much within education or health, other than maybe fixes there as well, the policy fix is more around distribution of wealth and socio-economics. So that’s just a quick thought.

Helmut Modlik:

One last thing on this one. So without exception, social policy concerns itself with multifactorial problems. You mentioned health, but only 18% of health and well-being is determined by the access to quality health services, over 80% of it is actually through wider social determinants. So even if you’ve got a perfect health system, you’ve got 80 plus percent of the drivers of well-being got nothing to do with it, right?

So multifactorial, complex, and at the heart of it, though, it’s about change, people-change, right? And so what we know, categorically, is that change is hard, first point. And, second, that you can’t do change to people, right? You can’t talk someone into it. They’ve got to choose it. They got to want it. And then there’s got to be a realistic pathway to achieve the change. And when it’s multifactorial, then that’s the hardest kind. And so that means, usually, and we’ve all experienced this … How did that last diet go? How that did that last gym membership go, right? Change is hard. So the point I’m making is that we do have a subset of the population, sub-populations, in our community, who have a significant development or change imperative. And nobody can do that to them. Nobody. This comes back to my observation about the key lesson from the last two years. If we, if the wider community, which did include the Māori community, hadn’t of our own volition acted to make happen in our community for ourselves in the wider community we serve, nothing would have changed in terms of the penetration of vaccines and all the rest of it. So that’s why I come back to observation: inform, empower, involve and resource the community, whether it’s the Māori community, the Pacifica community, or the poor folks, whatever, the community, and that’s why the power of this talanoa-wānanga to inform, engage and empower, and ultimately secure resources has got a lot of potential.

Simon Wright:

Thank you, Helmut. I think that’s a really powerful vision for the work that is underway in Porirua. And whatever we learn from it will be of huge benefit to not just the people here but, I think, across Aotearoa and beyond.

Helmut Modlik:

We’ll keep our aspirations modest but we certainly are hopeful that in our little safe-to-fail experiment we can learn some good things and go from there.

If I could just leave one last thing with you, Simon. So again, excuse me for the metaphor. But if you have a flood in your laundry, you’ve got two jobs: you gotta mop and you’ve got to turn-off the water. If you don’t turn off the water, you’re mopping a long time, a long time. And I’m here to tell you that for a range of systemic reasons, both central and local government are moppers – they’re in the business of mopping. And that it’s only, and this is connected with the observations I was just making, it’s only the community – informed, empowered and resourced – can turn off the tap, can turn off the water. And so that’s my … that’s our vision. Kia ora everyone, good to be with you. I’ll let you finish off your AGM unless there was anything else, because I’m gonna go play basketball with my nephews now.

Simon Wright:

Thanks a million, Helmut. That was absolutely wonderful.

Helmut Modlik:

Ka pai. Alrighty. Good. All power to you all. Kia ora everyone.

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