kia kaha kia maia kia manawanui
be strong be steadfast be willing

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!

I had the honour of chairing our final Board meeting on 30 November, marking the end of an extremely busy year for the Institute. Before getting into my kōrero about Board activities, I’d like to point attention to the whakataukī above.

The last few years of reform have been a whirlwind, and many of our members were involved in the process in some capacity along the way. The Board wishes to acknowledge this work and thank you for your mahi. We also wish to acknowledge the shift in priorities that the election has brought, and the inherent challenge that any change in government brings. With these whakataukī, I hope to – on the one hand – encourage you to be strong, focused and determined as we collectively step into this challenge. On the other hand, at the heart of change is people; without people, change doesn’t happen. The Board recognise how the current uncertainty is affecting our members and appreciate that change can be difficult. So please, reach out to your colleagues and connect, and see how they are doing as we put 2023 behind us and look toward the future.

We opened our final meeting for 2023 with our regular standing items, which include prior minutes and motions, open and recently closed actions, and risk. Following this, we jumped into strategic discussions around the operational work plan, the 2024 – 2026 budget and management accounts, and our policy work programme. This was followed by updates from Board working groups and discussions around Board elections, aligning investments in accordance with our financial strategy, and other matters. Below is a summary of the Board’s conversations on key items.

Policy Programme

The Institute has had an extremely active policy work programme in 2023, driven by our Principal Policy Advisor, Emily Grace who has advanced our policy work programme considerably. We’ve developed several position papers though engagement with members through surveys and smaller focus groups, provided feedback on several pieces of national direction, and have strengthened our relationship with the Ministry for the Environment. Also critical to our engagement this year has been Gina Sweetman’s role as Consultant Chief Advisor within the Ministry for the Environment. Gina’s role has been a key focus to ensure that an implementation lens is applied across reforms at central government level.

In light of the election, the Board also discussed the relevance of the policy positions programme and what new position papers may be useful. Finally, I note that several new position papers will be developed as we head into 2024. The first of these papers will be the Role of the Planner paper, which will be informed by the Role of the Planner Report released next week.

International Representation / Strategic Relationships

Attendance at international events has been an important part of maintaining and growing our global partnerships. In April CEO David Curtis attended the American Planning Association’s National Congress and took the opportunity to meet with CEOs from APA, RTPI, CIP and PIA while there. His discussions covered the establishment of international policy and digital focused think tanks, agreement on how to re-establish reciprocal membership agreements, how to better leverage the knowledge contained in international bodies such as the Global Planners Network and securing support for our recent ‘International Conversation on Indigenous Involvement in planning’ Reginald Proffit (Board Chair), David Curtis, and Emily Grace also attended the 2023 Planning Institute of Australia Congress. As our closest neighbours, PIA are a valued partner, with joint efforts around policy work on topics such as spatial planning, climate change, and indigenous people's involvement in planning, as well as on operational matters such as membership structures, accreditation of universities and shared CPD events.

Bryce Julyan recently attended the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, where he was elected to the CAP Board of Trustees. The Board received his report on the congress. NZPI is working to increase our involvement in CAP as a strategic partner and we are excited about what Byrce’s appointment within CAP will mean for NZPI’s broader reach to the global planning community.

With Bryce’s new appointment in CAP, he will no-longer be able to fill the role of CAP representative from Aotearoa New Zealand. The Board agreed that Reginald Proffit will fill this role until the new Board is elected in early 2024. The new Board will identify a new CAP representative.

Strategic Communications

Strategic and regular communication with our members, Branch Chairs and Special Interest Groups has been a key focus for this Board. With our members, I have seen a marked increase in the scope and extent of our communication across a variety of platforms, and engagement by members is up. This is thanks largely to the work of Rochelle Sewell, our Communications Lead and the Board is grateful for all her efforts in this space, especially as we grow and develop as an Institute. It is no small task to keep members well-informed, especially in the environment we are in!

Finalisation of 2024 – 2026 Budget

The final meeting of the year always includes a discussion of the coming years budget. In 2022 we extended this to include forecast budgets for the following two years, giving the Board greater foresight of any potential financial shifts within the Institute. The Institute continues to operate within its means, with the Board and CEO being very deliberate about where we spend additional funds to achieve maximum strategic benefit. The 2024 – 2026 budget includes additional funding tagged to support the strategic initiatives contained in the Board workplan, such as reviews of our Tertiary Accreditation Policy, the roles of Branches and SIG’s, and the pathways to Full membership. The Board also reviewed and updated our Financial Strategy, with the changes made reflecting the need to re-balance risk and return on our investments.

The development of an agreed Board workplan, and the associated longer budget cycle has enabled the Board to actively monitor progress on the strategic activities contained in our work plan at every Board meeting to ensure that money is spent appropriately and with purpose. The budget discussion concluded with an agreement that resource management reform will continue to be an active focus of the Institute and needs to be funded accordingly in 2024 and beyond.

Scoping Review of Tertiary Accreditation

The Board approved the scope for a review of the tertiary accreditation process, and this will start in earnest in the new year. The purpose of this work is to review the value of accreditation, how our membership requirements align with international planning organisations, and what changes – if any – are necessary as the policy has not had a review since 2016.

Wellbeing of Members

The wellbeing of members is something that the Board discusses every time we meet. We believe it’s important to ask How are you? Kei Te Pēhea Koe? Our Wellbeing Survey is now open, and members have till 17th January to respond. I encourage you to participate.

Resource Management Advisory Group (RMAG)

The RMAG was discussed at the previous meeting and changes to the form and operation of this group were agreed to. These changes had been implemented in recognition of the shift from legislation development to legislation implementation. Their focus now is to respond to the new legislative environment. NZPI is seeking engagement with the new government and RMAG’s advice about the implementation of legislation continues to be timely and valuable.

2024 Conference 

The Board reviewed the programme for the 2024 Conference and are looking forward to coming together to attend the NZPI Conference on 20 – 22 March 2024 in Kirikiriroa Hamilton.

It was noted that by this time, we will have a new Board. The call for nominations went out on the 6th of December and closes on January 26th. If you are considering putting yourself forward, the current Board welcomes the opportunity to speak to you about what this commitment involves.

In closing

As the year closes, I’d like to say thanks to our NZPI team for the ongoing mahi and energy you bring, often in the background, to our membership and to Board members for your ongoing commitment.

As we head into summer, I wish you all good weather. I also hope you take some time to decompress, connect with the people you love, and really enjoy time during the holidays.

Meri Kirihimete and Happy Holidays

Megan Couture (Deputy Chair NZPI)