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Resource material › Our Policy Advice Areas › Community-led Development


The philosophy underpinning community-led development is one of community empowerment. It is illustrated by broad community engagement to identify shared
aspirations and a pathway forward.

The community-led development approach focusses on communities as a whole, rather than on specific programmes or activities.

The principles of community-led development shift the focus away from small grants for individual projects and/or organisations, to an approach where communities have access to flexible funding that contributes to overall community wellbeing.

The Government is supporting community-led development by providing support, advice and funding, but the work is led by the community.

See further information:


The Community-led Development Pilot Programme began in 2011 with four pilot communities.

It was originally envisaged that the pilot would run to 30 June 2015, but lessons from the evaluation about the time needed to engage with communities and develop community plans, plus accommodating the pace at which communities are able to proceed, resulted in a decision to extend the support for the four communities until 30 June 2016.

Following completion of the pilot and its evaluation, the Community-led Development Programme was established as a permanent programme in June 2016. As of April 2021, there were 18 participating communities from across the country.

Why community-led development?

The Department decided to take a community-led approach after a first principles review of current Crown funded schemes showed that while these schemes are very successful in terms of helping organisations and projects, greater change and more enduring outcomes for communities, hapū and iwi could be achieved through longer term further investment in community-led development.


Community partners are able to request investment from a contestable $4 million fund to support them to achieve their community or hapū aspirations. Funding for the CLDP was reprioritised from two other funds, the Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS) and Community Development Scheme (CDS) in a move to shift away from small grants for individual projects and/or service organisations to more direct and strategic longer-term investment in communities as a whole.


Pilot programme evaluation

Staged evaluation of the pilot programme was carried out by the Department’s Policy group between 2012 -2015. The evaluation used an action research approach and drew on case study methodology to assess the implementation and impact of the pilot. Full details of the evaluation reports are set out below.

End of Pilot Evaluation report - October 2015

Year 3 Evaluation report - March 2015

Year 2 Evaluation report - December 2013

Year 1 Evaluation report - December 2012

Community-led Development Programme evaluation

In 2021 the Department commissioned Dovetail, an independent evaluation consultancy, to evaluate the contribution the Community-led Development Programme is making to communities. The evaluation is based on interviews with community members, Hāpai Hapori community advisors and programme leaders and external organisations.

‘Arotakenga Hāpai Hapori,’ the CLD Evaluation Framework, was developed to support the evaluation efforts for the programme. The framework details the project’s intended outcomes within the wider contextual environment of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Ao Tūroa.

More information

The following documents provide further information on the background and rationale for the community-led development initiative. Note: These papers were peer reviewed by Mary-Jane Rivers, Development Manager for Inspiring Communities.

The following Cabinet paper and minute have been proactively released by the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector. The following evaluation of the Community Organisation Grants Scheme was undertaken in 2009/10 to ascertain how well the scheme was achieving its outcomes and whether changes introduced in 2003 had made a positive difference to the scheme.
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