Current Events

ECO Open Government Survey


ECO, through its democracy and transparency working group, launched the survey of NZ people and organisations from the non-government and not-for-profit sector in July.

We wanted to find out what people wanted the government to do as part of its Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan. 

We invited members of the public as well as non-government organisations / civil society organisations to participate in the survey.



The survey began on Tuesday July 5 and has now finished.  Thanks to the hundreds of people and groups who responded to the questionnaire.


Open Government Partnership

In 2013 the New Zealand government joined (the now) 68 other countries in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Partnership countries share the aim of setting ambitious actions to make their governments more open to their citizens.

Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa NZ (ECO)

ECO was one of the many organisations that worked to achieve open government, an effort that culminated in the Official Information Act, and we continue to take an interest in this as part of our role of working to help groups with a concern for conservation and the environment. 

NZ Government

In the New Zealand Government the State Services Commission has the role of co-ordinating the Open Government Partnership effort.  This should include facilitating the engagement with civil society and ensuring that the goals identified are owned in and funded by specific government agencies that are responsible for ensuring that they happen. 


We recognize that open government matters to everyone – to people and to organisations in civil society. ECO is also inviting participation from councils and from libraries. We think these organisations and their employees and elected members are interested in, and knowledgeable about, the need for  greater openness in central government.

ECO is carrying out the survey because of our disappointment with the first NZ Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan.  A report by NZ academic Steven Price who is the OGP’s independent reviewer for NZ identified concerns with both the process and the goals following interviews with New Zealand people and organisations with an interest in open government.  The government’s engagement was half-hearted but the poor outcome could also relate to the lack of a unified civil society organisation pushing for better open government in New Zealand.

We feel that it is important that people and groups in the community in New Zealand have a chance to say what they want to see in the Government’s next action plan in the Open Government Partnership, and that is why we are inviting you to respond to our survey and also to let others know about it and share it with them.  We are not being asked by the government to do this, but want to do it as part of giving “voice” to people in the community.

We expect to process the replies and have the results of this research available for input into the Government's Open Government Action Plan and for public reference during September 2016.  To meet this timetable the survey closed on 25 July 2016.

Who is involved?

The survey is an initiative of ECO’s Democracy and Transparency Working Group. Jan Rivers, Richie Miller, researcher, Cath Wallace, policy vice-chair of ECO and formerly a senior lecturer at Victoria University and Michael Pringle, ECO’s executive officer.  

We may seek extra assistance from other volunteer researchers, and help and peer review from ECO Executive committee members and others in the field.  Each of us will be bound by the level of disclosure you select.  The raw data and responses will be kept protected by password and by physical security measures.

After the survey

The results of the survey will be analysed with software and with reference to the qualitative material you provide us with.  It will be provided to the government to inform the government’s future actions on open government but we also hope that the survey will help to build a commitment to working on open government initiatives amongst civil society organisations in NZ.

The 2014-16 Survey

Action 1: improve reporting on the Better Public Service programme, launched in 2012. The programme sets out to achieve ten goals in order to reduce long-term welfare dependence, support vulnerable children, increase employment, reduce crime and improve online interaction with government (e.g. online advice for businesses and e-transactions).

Action 2: Make more services available via the internet through the Government Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy and Action Plan to 2017.

Action 3: Act on recommendations by Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) in the National Integrity System Assessment,2013. The government has not specified which TINZ recommendations it will use and what the actions based on these will be.

Action 4: Continue to commit to the Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord, launched in 2011. This accord is designed to improve the collaborative relationships between social agencies and government.

Questions?  Email the ECO Office or call 04 385 7545


ECO Events

ECO Conference: Moving through the climate crisis, and freshwater challenges in New Zealand

13-14th August 2016

Venue is Wesley Community Centre, Sandringham Road extension, Mt Roskill, Auckland.

See the conference page for more.

This will  be a great opportunity to meet activists involved in working out how we will live in a climate-changed world.

 ECO 2016 AGM: Saturday afternoon, 13 August, at the venue above as part of our annual conference

IUCN World Congress, Hawaii, 1-10 September 2016


Held once every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges.
The theme is Planet at the Crossroads - how we are to survive and flourish in the next 15 years, by partnering across the planet to understand the challenges and develop solutions.

Registrations are now now open.  Go here for more information and to register.

ECO is a Member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and ECO Co-Chair Diana Shand & other ECO people will be attending the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii from 1-10 September.  

Diana is also Chair of the IUCN Theme on the Social and Environmental Accountability of the Private Sector (SEAPRISE).  Discounted attendance applies to members of ECO Member Groups.

Other Events

The things you didn't know about climate change - talks in main centres around New Zealand.

Tim Naish and James Renwick are on a speaking tour of New Zealand - how will climate change affect me and what can I do about it?  These lectures are free and open to the public but you do need to register via the Royal Society.       Read more here.                    

Drivers of Urban Change

What’s driving urban change in your city? Wellington and Christchurch talks in August

You are invited to hear from researchers looking into issues of urban development, housing, transport and environment. Hear the views of key decision-makers and cutting-edge research, exploring the issues of compact vs. dispersed urban development, infrastructure renewal, resilient transport patterns and healthy, affordable housing.  More information here.


Has opening up data promoted open government in New Zealand? 9 August, Auckland 

New Zealand has been a world leader in opening up its public data for legal re-use by others to encourage transparency, innovation, greater engagement in policy development and better social and environmental outcomes.

This lecture will provide a historic context, look at some international experience, consider what opening up data has meant for New Zealand and engage in a little crystal ball gazing.  

Presenter: Keitha Booth.
VUW in Auckland, 50 Kitchener Street, Auckland. RSVP to

The rising challenge for coastal areas: Auckland, 17 August, 6pm

Venue: Room 3.408, School of Engineering, University of Auckland, 20 Symonds St, Auckland

Coastal areas face one of the largest conundrums in relation to adapting to climate change. This arises primarily from an ongoing increase in sea level that will continue for several centuries. But the rate of rise is tied very closely to how much the world can reduce emissions. The presentation will cover the science behind sea-level rise and projections for this century and beyond. Then explore some of the challenges and options for coastal communities, including adaptive pathways planning.  Engineers for Social Responsibility event.



New Zealand Dairy: friend or foe?: Lincoln University 11 August, 6pm

An in-depth look at dairy systems and their impact on the economy and environment.  

Professor Grant Edwards speaks as part of the Changemakers series at Lincoln. More info here.

Growing Voices – let’s talk Aoraki is a forum and workshop series for youth to shape conservation into the future. Three workshops will run over 3 months from Friday 5th August 2016, and it’s open to anyone 15-25 years (although we will consider older participants!).

Information and registration is online here, and more information in the documents above.

We need young people represented in our public consultation process, as their voice and action will carry into a future we can only dream about.  Lifting young people up and supporting them as the leaders of this future is something we can all be part of - please support this kaupapa to shine.

 Climate Change for Churches workshop, 20 August

What will church leadership on climate change look like? 

This event brings together church leaders, congregation members, and climate change experts to report on the exciting initiatives already taking place among churches in Aotearoa New Zealand and to envisage new avenues for learning, solidarity, and action.  

Speakers & Leaders

Su'a William Sio, MP Mangere
Dr Adrien Macey, Climate Negotiator
Professor James Renwick, Scientist
Cardinal John Dew, Laudato Si' video presentation
Koreti Tiumalu, Pacific Climate Warriors. Find out more and register here.


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