top of page

How we do it: Projects


Taking a community-driven approach to strategic planning in Geraldine

Project Overview

Geraldine Community Board commissioned Catalyse to work with them to create a 10 year strategic framework and 3 year action plan to assist the alignment of local decision making for Geraldine, Orari, Peel Forest and Woodbury. The process focused on understanding what matters most to local people and was delivered in a range of ways in order to hear from people who might not usually engage with Council planning. Over 1300 responses were received and more than 120 people participated in the analysis and decision making workshops. A finished Strategic Framework and Action Plan will be delivered in July 2023.


Geraldine Community Board had developed a vision and objectives to “protect and enhance the character of Geraldine, its lifestyle opportunities for residents of all ages and its attractiveness as a visitor destination” when they engaged Catalyse to help develop a Strategic Framework and Action plan to help deliver on these. The objectives for our work were to engage a wide range of local people to inform priorities, alignment with other strategies and key first actions, measures, milestones and collaborators. 


After talking with key locals and drafting a stocktake of existing strategies, Catalyse developed a number of bespoke engagement tools to attract a diverse range of participants. These tools included  ideas boards, postcards and suggestion boxes located in various places people already go to - cafes, pubs, schools, grocery stores, farmers markets and workplace lunchrooms. We also ran an online survey and talked to individuals and groups, several of whom went onto run their own conversations with people they connected with. Our communications strategy included social media, print media, ads in school and interest group newsletters as well as posters and fliers. Sending information directly to letter boxes with rural mail services  was a huge success. 

The first draft of a strategic framework was refined in workshops with locals in places close to where locals live and, together, we created an action plan for the first 3 years. 


Over 1300 responses were received
more than 120 people participated in these workshops
and many said it was the first time they felt the things that matter to them were heard.


Going to where people already are and using language they are familiar with is a key part of the success of any community engagement. Taking the engagement to places near to home and making it simple, easy and fun draws out a huge number of thoughts, ideas and experiences that might not otherwise be heard. Providing good local food always helps, as does great communications and it was especially fabulous (and really useful) to hear local leaders of all kinds encouraging people in their various groups to join in. 

Next Steps

We are currently finalising the Framework and Action plan for Geraldine. We have also been developing something similar for Pleasant Point Community Board which will be ready around the same time. Catalyse is now working with Timaru District Council to provide a community engagement process and toolbox based on the IAP2 Continuum of Engagement.


Developing a strategic framework and action plan that is grounded in what matters to a wide range of local people can be useful for all sorts of organisations. Contact us if you would like to talk about how we can help you better understand what matters, what to prioritise  and who to collaborate with in your place. We are also very happy to adapt our tools for other purposes too!

bottom of page