Recovering “village values”
2003. Pictured above: The Hutt City Council. A community charter initiated by local churches and adopted by Hutt City Council aims to support Lower Hutt as a safe and connected community, what Lower Hutt Mayor John Terris calls an effort to recover “village values”.
The community charter forms part of Hutt City Council’s long term community plan, adopted on June 19, 2003. Under the Local Government Act 2002 local authorities are now required to develop a long-term council community plan.
Lower Hutt is the first city in New Zealand to adopt a community charter, which was endorsed after public consultation.
Senior Minister of Knox Presbyterian Church Rev Alastair Smales explains Council’s intention is that each community sector would contextualize the charter according to their function.
“My hope is that the charter will be more than a piece of paper, or even something placed on people’s walls, but would be the criteria by which all decisions and actions are made.”
Council’s Manager of policy and governance Dorothy Adams says Council expect the four core values to be incorporated into the community but can’t be sure how various groups will use them because “we haven’t seen how it will work in the community yet.”
At this stage Ms Adams says Council need to think about how they are going to implement the charter.
“We want to work with a couple of business groups and community organizations to see how we can work for the charter. Council have started to incorporate the values into some projects they are working on.”
Ms Adams explains the overview of a draft liquor policy will include a statement of community values as in the charter. A governance group made up of the two councils in the Hutt Valley, and other central government agencies, has signed up for these terms.
As outlined in the written document, the community charter’s values are:
– Turn helplessness into hope.
– Make lonely people feel they belong
– Turn indifference into responsibility
– Turn self-centeredness into mutual support
Ms Adams wants to approach those churches who were involved in initiating the charter regarding rewording the document when Council knuckles out 2004’s long term community plan. She personally feels the wording of the charter could be clearer and more positive.
“I’m not saying it requires change, but it will be a good idea to have a look at it,” she says. “At the time it was accepted in its entirety without looking to see if you could word it better than it was, and I think we should go back and do that. The church groups may disagree with me and that’s fine.”
Three local churches supported the initiative – Knox-St Columba Presbyterian Church, Hutt Christian Covenant Church, and Crossroads Salvation Army.
The charter was born out of events of April 2002. The murder of Kate Alkema and the kidnapping of baby Kahuurautete, daughter of lawyer Donna Hall and Judge Eddie Dury, shook the Lower Hutt community.
By Peter Veugelaers.
Published 2003, Challenge Weekly