The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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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 issues and concerns to generate local solutions.

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.

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The Department of Internal Affairs’ regional community advisers are working with four communities which form the community-led development pilot.

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.

The participating communities were selected because they had strengths and leadership to build on, and had identified challenges in their communities that they wanted to address. They also represented the diverse communities within New Zealand.

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.


The four communities in the community-led development pilot had access to funding of up to $1.5 million per year that was transferred from the existing Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS),Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS), plus an additional $400,000 which was reallocated from Vote Community and Voluntary Sector. In 2009 $1.2 million was allocated for community capability building over three years. The final year of this funding ($400,000) was reprioritised to support the community-led development project as it has a greater and more co-ordinated focus on building sustainable community capability.

COGS funding of $12.5 million is still available across the country (including in the communities participating in the pilot) and the usual application process applies.


The community-led development pilot is managed by Community Operations within the Department. The Policy group within the Department is undertaking an evaluation of the pilot. The evaluation is based on an action research approach and uses case study methodology to assess both the implementation and impact of the pilot in the participating communities. It identifies lessons that can be applied throughout the pilot.

End of Pilot Evaluation report - October 2015

The final evaluation report provides a summative evaluation of the CLD pilot, with a focus on what the participating communities have achieved over the last five years.

Year 3 Evaluation report - March 2015

The Year 3 evaluation provides an insight into the progress of the four communities in the third year of their participation in the community-led development pilot.

The four communities are continuing to make good progress towards the goals in their community plans. There also continues to be a strong commitment from community leadership groups with new members of the community participating in leadership roles. This includes participating in the leadership groups, developing their expertise and understanding of community led development as well as leading initiatives within the community.

The leadership groups have observed an increase in community participation and connectedness within the community and with the community led development pilot.

The next stage of the evaluation will provide a comprehensive assessment of the achievements of community-led development over the five years of the pilot.

Year 2 Evaluation report - December 2013

The Year 2 evaluation focuses on the projects the communities are undertaking and the ways in which these are contributing to community outcomes.

Year 1 Evaluation report - December 2012

This report presents an evaluation of the implementation of community-led development for the period 1 July 2011 to 31 August 2012. As both the implementation and evaluation of the trial are in their early stages, this report is focused on the process of implementation.

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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