Collaborative community engagement

Kaikōura, a South Island coastal town, is world famous for its beautiful environment. Responsible stewardship of the land is critical for the town's thriving Māori-owned and -operated nature-based and cultural tourism industry, and the local community has embraced this responsibility.

A model of collaborative community engagement was utilised when gathering input into a range of biosolids reuse solutions appropriate for the Kaikōura community. 1500 tonnes of stockpiled biosolids (treated sewage sludge) was rapidly nearing the end of its permitted storage period.

ESR's social systems team, in collaboration with the Centre for Integrated Biowaste Research(external link) and Kaikōura District Council, developed the methodology for the engagement process. The integration of social, cultural, environmental and economic considerations as part of the engagement model gave the Kaikōura District Council and Kaikōura community a mechanism to prioritise their concerns, enabling the community and the council to make a more informed robust and transparent decision.

Overall this integrated engagement process was very successful and has enhanced the level and quality of engagement and knowledge shared between council and community.

Similar forms of collaborative community engagement could be utilised by local government to build shared knowledge and generate robust and sustainable decision-making for other environmental health issues.