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New Zealand Park agencies set strategic direction

New Zealand Park agencies set strategic direction
March 11, 2015

27 senior management representatives attending the recent New Zealand Park Agencies Forum have set out a strategic direction for the sector.

The Forum, convened by the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) and including representatives from the Department of Conservation (DOC), local and regional councils, and private enterprise, examined the current and future needs of the New Zealand parks and open spaces industry.

NZRA Parks and Open Spaces Project Manager Jude Rawcliffe said the group discussed the need for a lead agency to act as a knowledge base and to provide strong advocacy, research and advice to the parks and open spaces sector.

Rawcliffe explained “the benefits of a one-stop-shop for the industry that connects the major players in the sector and encourages active collaboration are clear.

“By working together, we can provide the sector with the tools to deal with change and ensure a sound foundation for the future.”

Rawcliffe said there was clear consensus that any new lead agency must have the broadest possible representation and should not be dominated by any political agenda to ensure it gained credibility and the respect of its membership, the government and non-government agencies including the international parks sector.

She added that and a project team would be formed between NZRA, councils, DOC, and other agencies associated with parks and open spaces to achieve the aspirations of the forum.

Other resolutions included defining clear benefits and how value will be added, mapping the sector to identify the best ways to forge meaningful connections and establishing reference groups for special focus areas.

The Forum also provided an opportunity for participants to discuss potential knowledge sharing and partnerships with agencies such as Parks and Leisure Australia, the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration (Ifpra), and the Generate network for young recreation professionals.

Services previously delivered by the former organisation under the name Parks Forum were also evaluated.

Resolutions reached at the Forum were as follows:

New Zealand Park Agencies Forum, 2015
What is Needed:

a. A lead agency for the parks and open space sector that is respected by the Government, the membership, and other agencies including the international parks sector because its views are informed by national and international research and recognised best practice.
b. A one-stop-shop and repository of knowledge providing a strong and unified voice, and representing the widest possible interests of the parks and open space sector.
c. A clear value proposition to members and those that need to engage with the services the agency is offering, that is complementary to and does not compete with other sector agencies.
d. An organisation that is not captured by political or other agendas, that crosses boundaries between urban and rural, and is multi-dimensional to provide the broadest possible representation.
e. Professional development for professionals of all ages so that knowledge can be shared and project based mentoring can be provided to young professionals to ensure a sound foundation for the future.
f. Strong leadership, research and advice to the parks and open space sector in a dynamic environment going through exponential change that predicts change and provides the sector with tools to deal with change.

The Benefits that an Industry Sector Agency can provide:
a. A one-stop-shop for industry professionals across a wide cross-section of parks and open space industries that is a repository for best practice.
b. Clear linkages between the agency and other agencies working within the sector.
c. An agency that can lead the debate on a wide range of issues across the political spectrum including legislative changes based on research.
d. An agency that influences policy and legislation that matter to New Zealanders.

A Values-based organisation
a. Consultative and representative of all agencies involved in parks and open space planning and delivery
b. Customer and people centric
c. Non-political - not captured by narrow agendas
d. Industry led and driven

Which agencies are established or linked into New Zealand 
a. World Urban Parks Formerly the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration or Ifpra. 
b. New Zealand Recreation Association
c. Parks and Leisure Australia
d. Generate

Which Agencies are best positioned to meet parks and open spaces sector needs
There are insufficient resources and support nationally for two agencies. NZRA is an established organisation which has the respect of government and is best positioned to meet the identified needs. In order to do this it will need to make changes, and this will form part of the strategic review which is underway and due for completion in June/July 2015. 

What Resources are needed:
a. Funding
b. Leadership and administrative support
c. A policy analyst that is a well-connected professional.

The Strategy going forward
a. Form a project team with representation from NZRA, TAs, DOC and other industry players to develop a framework and explore opportunities to deliver services to parks agencies in New Zealand and re-engage with the New Zealand Park Agencies Forum members as discussions progress.
b. Clearly define the value proposition, communicate this to members of the previous organisation under the name Parks Forum and get feedback. This includes identifying what was good about the services offered by Parks Forum including professional development for senior managers and connection with Australia. and incorporate this into the value proposition.
c. Map the parks and open space sector and all of the existing agencies to identify possible linkages and overlaps and to avoid duplication.
d. Incorporate into the planning the need for reference groups to be established or maintained for special interest groups within the sector.
e. NZRA to incorporate into their strategic planning the opportunity to be the lead agency for the parks and open space sector, taking into account their current governance structure not industry led. and their relationship with Sport NZ.

Images show the Wellington Botanic Gardens.




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