Pita Rikys on Governance and the Gulf

These turbulent and uncertain times have presented the Gulf communities with a unique opportunity to put a case to Government for a Governance model that is structured around and provides for the essential differences of our environment and communities and the challenges they face. In addition it allows us to create a Governance model that will be the key agency for integrating and driving development of our community. Finally, it can also be a model to reality test appropriate participation in Governance by Tangata Whenua at the flax roots / grass roots level.

We, as a community, therefore need to develop our ideal Governance model and the case / justification for why we should have it. Our wisest heads should also work out the strategy that will ensure it is packaged and pre-sold in a way that ensures its adoption. Some good ground preparation type work has already been done in the latter regard, and needs to be built on.

We are indeed fortunate that we have a lot of the ground work for this task already completed or underway through a range of different groups working in their areas of specialist interest, in the community. We are also fortunate that we have high levels of specialist expertise / experience across almost all of the critical areas that need to be considered, available to us from within our community. The critical challenge is how to facilitate bringing those individuals, and groups and that work, expertise and experience together into the comprehensive case we need, to inform and support our Governance structure and systems.

Now a taste from my personal ‘dream times’ as to where this might take us. Obviously models and tools of Sustainable Governance fit well with the ongoing Environmental challenges we face. They also represent a good selling point in terms of a case to be put to the Government. The island and its community can be offered up and used as a safe test bed for this work. Within that thinking from the schools to a custom designed specialist Tertiary level institution, we as individuals and as a community can own and develop this work and the intellectual property it represents as a powerful tool and opportunity for social and economic development and enhancement. The same flavors and focus can percolate through, inform and be reflected in almost all other areas of activity within our community, education, transport and tourism in particular. Innovative projects for creation of quality employment can be leveraged off these developments.

Stretching beyond that again, if we take on board opportunities flowing out of the information age revolution [ found for example in the writing of leading thinkers in this area such as Yochi Benkler ] we can not only fundamentally transform, for the good, the architecture of democratic participation but we can clearly create, drive and own our very own Sustainable Economy.  

I am strongly attracted to the vision in the ‘Man and the Bio-sphere’ Reserve concept Colin Beardon elaborated on in the last issue. I do not think we can reach that objective in one jump and that we need to prove to the powers that be that we can really walk our own talk. In terms of the immediate position and as a transitional step to Colin’s objective I believe we need a separate unitary authority with the optimum level of local control and decision making. This is the case we have to make to the Government both in submissions to Select Committees and via direct lobbying and representations.

How do we get there? ‘We bake the cake together’ –  said the little Red Hen, or in this island’s case, maybe it is the Little Red Rooster.

Pita Rikys

16th June 2009