Volunteer mentors strengthen community governance across the Central Lakes

Volunteers at Wanaka bowls club

Volunteer mentors strengthen community governance across the Central Lakes

A community governance mentoring programme has wrapped up for the second year in the Central Lakes, with positive feedback from those involved.

The Governance Mentoring Programme is designed to increase an individual’s effectiveness in a not for profit setting by developing their capability, connection and confidence in community governance. Thirteen individuals involved in the not for profit sector were matched with a mentor with significant relevant governance experience to walk alongside them on their governance journey for six months.

The programme was overseen by Volunteer South GMP lead Jane Sharman who says “It’s been a pleasure to be involved in this programme for a second year and to meet another cohort of passionate, dedicated and talented people.”

“We are very lucky in this region to have such strong leaders guiding our community organisations. This year’s programme discussions reinforced the need for board members to keep their organisations’ vision front of mind, and to conduct regular strategic reviews as priorities can change.”

“I also appreciated the wisdom around creating sustainable processes so that members can step back when it's time and ensure the organisation continues to perform.”

Mentees in the cohort were based across the Central Lakes and from a range of non profit organisations involved in creating change within environmental projects, the arts, sports, food security, community support and emergency response.

They were supported by their mentors through one on one monthly meetings with a focus on personal development goals. Reflections have been positive.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to be guided by someone who is so experienced in community governance. It has greatly improved my knowledge, skills and confidence in this area - and I made a friend!” says mentee Nicky McCarthy.

Queenstown mentee Sarah Frederic says, “Working with my mentor was invaluable. She helped me to see the big picture and how to make good governance decisions for the charities I'm involved with. Without this programme, whilst we would have gotten things done, it would have been harder and less efficient!”

In addition to having one to one support, the cohort met three times face to face during the six month programme and had the opportunity to network via Zoom as a group.

Mentee Raewyn Calhaem says "It’s been great to meet other mentees and see that many volunteer organisations face the same challenges. Having a single mentor assigned for the 6 month period allowed us time to get to know each other well and to extract the most benefit from the program. I highly recommend it."

The mentors also speak highly of the experience.

"It's been a privilege for me to be able to build a connection with my mentees over the course of the two years I've been involved and to have been able to walk a small distance with them on their journey," says mentor Wayne Hudson.

"Seminars and courses on governance are all very well - and necessary - but the real learnings come from the one-on-one sessions where the mentor’s knowledge is immediately useful to the mentee, rather than merely being interesting from a theoretical point of view. I think the programme will have been very beneficial in a lasting way for everyone involved."

He adds “I would genuinely like to thank those who made the Governance Mentoring Programme possible. This is a shining light of a great idea well supported and well received”.

Mentor Terry Davis says “Good governance is so critical to healthy positive communities. The connections, sharing of knowledge and building of confidence is just a fantastic experience for all concerned. And by osmosis the whole wider community benefits.”

The programme was delivered by Volunteer South in partnership with the Mentoring Foundation of NZ and Community Governance NZ and was supported by ACOSS, Central Lakes Trust, Central Otago District Council, Cromwell and Districts Community Trust, Sport Central and Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Pictured - some of the 2023 Governance Mentoring Programme cohort enjoying some end of year reflections and networking at Wānaka Bowling Club.