ActionStation is an independent, crowdfunded, community campaigning organisation. Its missions is “to tautoko (support) and whakamana (uplift) everyday New Zealanders to act together in powerful and coordinated ways to create what we cannot achieve on our own: a society, economy and democracy that serves all of us – everyday people and Papatūānuku, the planet we love.”
Launched in 2014, this constantly growing membership-based organisation has had multiple successes in the last four years. Members cross social and political divides: the only prerequisites for joining are that you’re fair-minded, want to get things done, share similar values, and are willing to act. It’s a model that’s shaking things up and making good things happen. The wins have been wide and far-reaching.
“In collaboration with others, ActionStation has successfully campaigned for an increase in core benefit levels for the first time in 28 years, and for an independent inquiry into mental health which included helping to create the political conditions for the government’s pilot of free counselling to all 18- to 25-year olds. We’ve helped hundreds of people and community organisations with digital tools, strategic guidance and mentoring to successfully campaign for better public policies for whānau wellbeing.
Policies like extending paid parental leave; improving the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act so that all New Zealanders’ homes are warm, dry and healthy; forgiving the WINZ motel emergency housing debt of homeless families and individuals; and increasing the availability of sex, consent and healthy relationships education to all secondary schools. We’ve also collaborated with others to raise the age of state foster care from 17 years up to 21 years, removing a key cause of youth homelessness,” says Laura O’Connell Rapira, Director – ActionStation.
The J R McKenzie Trust has supported ActionStation over the past three years to mobilise thousands of New Zealanders to become powerful advocates. Government and political leaders have been pressed to take urgent and systematic action to address and eliminate whānau poverty in New Zealand. Using a powerful tech platform designed to enable rapid response and long-term actions that spread like wildfire, the nimble and dedicated team of ActionStation digital campaigners have built campaign capacity at a rapid pace.
The advocacy model is designed to incorporate both online and offline activities and includes amplifying the impact of existing community leaders by providing them with skills, resources and support in their digital campaigning. Once catalysed, the impetus for change builds exponentially and identifiable outcomes are clearly evident. The J R McKenzie Trust continues to provide support to ActionStation, with its next body of work being around helping to create social and political conditions which enhance tino rangatiratanga and ensure Māori are flourishing.
ActionStation has a far-reaching vision of equality and fairness which it hopes to realise by 2040, the 200-year anniversary of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi. Aotearoa New Zealand will be a “flourishing country with care, creativity, courage and compassion at its core,” where Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the rights of indigenous people are recognised and honoured. A country that plays a positive role on the global stage, bolstered by its robust democracy, accountable leaders and informed citizens. A land where the wellbeing of the people and the environment are at the forefront of every decision made, where one and all can thrive.
Sounds like a massive task for any organisation to take on, but this particular one is dramatically different. The members and supporters are passionate and motivated, and their approach is fine-tuned and incredibly effective. It’s ‘new power’ at its finest: suddenly, this grand vision seems eminently achievable.