Residents Associations

What exactly is a residents’ association? Kiwi’s might be surprised that until recently nobody really knew.
Jarrod Coburn, a graduate student from Victoria University, sent out 2,800 survey forms and read almost 600 constitutions to come up with the answer.
This marathon effort became necessary when Mr Coburn discovered there was very little research published globally on what he terms a “vitally important” piece of society.
The resulting thesis provides a basis to help members of the community, local government and academia better understand the role that residents’ associations play in communities across the country.
“These groups are every/where you look in New Zealand,” says Mr Coburn,” Yet very little is known or understood about them. Most people think they exist simply to keep an eye on local Councils but the research shows a far greater role than just being a watchdog for the community.”
The research identifies three types of group: the most common one being the association that exists in a defined geographic area and often involves itself in local matters.
“Aside from the community-oriented residents’ association there are two other types. They can be representative of a demographic of people, be they the elderly, students, or entire races, Both here and overseas there are examples of this,” says Mr Coburn,” Another type is the ‘Body Corporate’. Interestingly, the research showed a number of property developers have registered residents’ associations covering an area of land that is intended for development.”
Jarrod Coburn says anecdotal evidence shows that some Councils have required developers to do this as part of the resource consenting process,
Residents’ associations provide a wide variety of services to their communities, from social-service type activities to such esoteric things as television reception, water supply and operating local roads.
Little has been specifically written on residents’ groups in New Zealand, yet they have played a significant part in communities for almost one and a half centuries. If local authorities are the heart of community governance then community-type residents’ groups are its soul: as a source of knowledge and leadership, protecting and preserving the physical environment, promoting the interests of local people and safeguarding their general well being.

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