January 18, 2021

The success of West Auckland’s Covid-19 response

Throughout 2020, Aotearoa has seen unprecedented efforts of community working together. The most visible, the team of five million, endured a series of stringent restrictions on daily life to prevent further loss of life to COVID-19.

Below the surface, there were extraordinary collective efforts underway – small and large, actioned to protect unique communities across the motu. These efforts involved multiple organisations and people, working at different levels in a united effort to rapidly respond to community needs.

With support from Auckland Council’s Emergency Management team a unique collective in West Auckland, West Auckland Together (WAT), commissioned a report to capture members’ perspectives and voices to understand the factors which enabled the coordinated response. WAT member and Sport Waitākere CEO, Lynette Adams, explains. 

“West Auckland has a unique history of being a network of networks – existing since the days of the Waitākere City Council. Since 2017, a group of community-based organisations have been meeting regularly to look at ways to work together, to think beyond the role of each organisation and towards collective, sustainable impact.”

Named the Collaborative Marketplace, the collective is designed to promote and enable innovation amongst community organisations in West Auckland. The collective has been meeting regularly since 2018, but when COVID-19 lockdowns were announced, members doubled down on their efforts to meet the needs of West Aucklanders.

“Once the collective knew we were going into alert level four, we met virtually to talk through what we identified as the communities most pressing needs and how we could work together to meet these needs. New organisations came into the fold, so we decided on a new iteration of the collective – West Auckland Together.”

This resulted in WAT partners working collaboratively, sharing information and resources. Through the reporting process, key themes emerged which members felt cultivated the collective’s ability to rapidly respond; forming trusted relationships, a strong leadership, securing funding, allocating time, a convening role, ease of communication and providing permission for staff participate.

“It is important to create the space, and the time, to lift your head up and talk to each other – this is something you have to get intentional about.” – Statement captured from a WAT member in the report.

One of the most rapid responses saw WAT partners redistribute teams to support Vision West to deliver food parcels across West Auckland. This was a breakthrough for the collective, essentially providing permission for team members to work on behalf of another organisation. Community Waitākere Executive Officer, Mark Allen, continues.

 “The pandemic has brought us to a place where norms have been flipped on their head, paving a way to do things differently and put aside siloed agendas to look at the bigger picture.”

Other communities and agencies, including the Auckland Emergency Management department of Auckland Council will be able to use the report to understand the critical factors that enabled such an effective collaboration to take place.

To view the report visit here.