Network News September 2016

Meet the members

Welcome to another article in the series introducing the wonderful members we serve and the work they are doing in their communities throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand.

At our Hui last year, Community Networks Aotearoa celebrated forty years since our beginning as NZCOSS. One of our member organisations who’ve been in existence almost as long, is the Social Equity and Wellbeing Network (SEWN) from Christchurch.

Known originally as the Christchurch Council of Social Services (CCOSS), and set up by community leaders including SEWN Life Members John Fry (then Community Development Advisor at the city council) and Katherine Peet, the organisation has been in existence since 1979. It changed its name recently to better reflect the nature of what it does and its current membership, not all of whom are social services. (It has also meant less phone calls from locals wanting to talk to the city council!)


SEWN employs Sharon Torstonson as its Executive Director and will shortly recruit a new staff member to assist her. Sharon is currently supported by part-time contractor Michelle, a voluntary Board of seven and the much valued Gwen who looks after SEWN’s admin needs.

With a geographical reach of the city itself and the districts of Selwyn and Waimakariri, SEWN serves a large number of people, including its 50 member organisations. Its monthly newsletter is sent out to 300 subscribers however a recent survey has shown this is widely shared and read by nearer to 700.

Christchurch is a well-networked city, with regular meetings of networks organised around specific issues such as housing, mental health, family violence and social services. Therefore SEWN does not hold regular network meetings like many other CNA members do.  Instead it organises forums around specific topics as needed. Recent examples include looking at how low income families can make sure their fires are clean-burning and efficient, and a major forum to learn about and discuss aspects of marginalisation. The organisation also makes submissions, most recently on the rewrite of the Social Security Act and the Long Term Plan of the Christchurch City Council.


Something unique to Christchurch within New Zealand, is its standing as one of the 100 Resilient Cities (RC100). Pioneered and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, RC100 is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. Sharon has been involved in the draft plan for the city as part of promoting the work of the nfp sector to a wider audience. SEWN has already played an important part in this with the publication of “Holding Hope Together” in 2014, which celebrated the contribution of the sector in the rebuilding of Christchurch communities following the earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011. (photo: Sharon prepares an iconic Christchurch road cone for the launch of “Holding Hope Together” – one of the diverse range of tasks an ED in a small nfp can have!)

One of the challenges facing SEWN and indeed the wider sector in the coming year, is the ongoing task of making the most out of meagre resources while continuing to maintain and build capacity. An opportunity however is continuing to lead and contribute within the sector in terms of the promotion of building resilient communities. SEWN is working with local Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) staff to promote the role of the sector in building resilience, and the need to engage with it when developing civil defence plans.

For further info about SEWN please visit, “like” them on Facebook or contact

On Air with Ros
Download and listen to Ros interview Mark Chenery, co-founder of Common Cause Australia, a non-profit organisation aimed at strengthening intrinsic cultural values. Mark is an alumni of the Anat Shenker-Osorio communications fellowship run by the Centre for Australian Progress.


CNA Biennial Hui Logo RGB for WEB_ ACTUAL

Registrations are now open for our Members’ Hui which will take place in Wellington on Wednesday 19 October.

We are very pleased to be joining with our colleagues from Inclusive NZ for a combined Hui this year.  We will have separate programmes for the first part of the morning and then join together for an informative and fun programme of discussion and presentations following our respective AGMS.

We hope this combined hui will enable us to learn about each other and the work we all do in our communities, as well as providing an opportunity to make connections and explore opportunities for collaboration.

So book those flights and get those registrations in! For full programme and registration click here

Funding available

The Working Together More Fund (WTMF) was established to help groups wanting to work together to achieve results for our communities. The next closing date for applications is Friday 21 October 2016. For further info about criteria please

How prepared is your workplace?

Here in the CNA office we’ve recently been thinking about disaster preparedness. Not a happy thought but it’s always better to plan for an emergency rather than just worry about it. Could you continue to serve your communities following an emergency? What arrangements do you have in place for staff? How and where do you store your data? And on it goes…

Here are some useful links to help with the planning process:

To blog, or not to blog…

Here are the links to the latest ComVoices blogs on Community Scoop. Interesting reading as always…
Hang together, or hang seprarately! by Peter Glensor, General Manager, Hui E! Community Aotearoa
Speaking out by Ros Rice, Executive Officer, Community Networks Aotearoa
Beyond aid versus trade – what’s the combination that gets results? by Josie Pagani, Director, Council for International Devlopment
Why bother? by Gabrielle O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer, Birthright New Zealand
Enough is enough New Zealand, it’s time to promote positive gender culture by Lynn McKenzie, Chief Executive, National Council of Women of New Zealand



In memoriam – we are sad to announce the passing of Rosemary Carr last month. The former Chief Executive of Kilmarnock Enterprises in Christchurch, Rosemary was very active in NZCOSS (or CNA as we’re now known) as a member of the steering committee in 1987. Rosemary was elected to the Executive Committee at our first AGM that year and continued to serve in that capacity for four years. Rosemary was also a life-member of Inclusive NZ on whose Board she served for over 20 years. We are grateful for Rosemary’s long service to the wider community and extend our condolences and best wishes to her family.

Upcoming Conferences

Taking Charge of Change: Transformation through Innovation – SSPA, 27 – 28 October, Christchurch
Change, transformation and the new future are the focus of the Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) National Conference 2016 being held at Chateau on the Park, Christchurch. Early bird registrations now open. For more details visit

Pivot – Linking Vision to action – Volunteering New Zealand, 31 October, Wellington
This year’s theme is focused on turning ideas into reality. It’s an opportunity to gather together to learn from and be inspired by a range off speakers in areas including volunteer involvement, best practice guidelines and organisational expertise. Early bird prices end on 2 August. For more details visit

And don’t forget, we’re here to help.  If you have any problems or issues, or just need some information, please don’t hesitate to contact Ros at the CNA office on Wellington (04) 472 3364 or  Both Ros and Fionn are here to provide support to our membership and always welcome your contact.

Photo: bruceandrobyn