Annual Report 2017

A year in the life of ActionStation


ActionStation was launched just months before the 2014 election with a big dream and a plan to make it happen. Our dream was to enable New Zealanders who share a vision for a fairer, flourishing Aotearoa to take powerful, coordinated action together online and offline, ‘building the power and momentum to hold political and corporate interest to account.’

Three years later, in the wake of the 2017 election, it’s a great time to reflect on how this movement has grown, and how far we’ve come towards fulfilling that big dream. So whether you’ve been on the journey with ActionStation since we launched, or joined the movement more recently, adding your power and voice to our campaigns in 2017, please make yourself a cuppa, sit back and take a few minutes to reflect on all that we’ve done together this year. Because everything we do together at ActionStation is possible only because of you, and thousands of others like you.

‘People power’ isn’t just a nice slogan at ActionStation: it is ActionStation. It’s why we’re here and how we get things done. From cleaning up our rivers, getting more young people voting this election, and standing with the survivors of abuse in state care, to demanding an inquiry into mental health services and the state of renting, all our campaigns are powered by you.

So thank you for being part of this movement, it’s been a big, busy year. Now it’s time to look back on all we’ve done together.

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The plan for 2017

A little over a year ago we surveyed the ActionStation community to ask what they wanted our movement to get to work on in 2017. After lots of conversations, research and advice we whittled the many options down to three.

We could focus on:

  • Picking 2-3 issues which would otherwise be overlooked, and campaign to put those issues onto the election agenda;

  • Getting out missing voters, with a specific focus on the groups of people in New Zealand who are least likely to vote;

  • Lifting our sights, and the sights of our politicians, by putting together a crowd-sourced vision for the future of Aotearoa, the values needed to underpin that future, and some policy pathways to get us there.

When the results of the survey came in, it was almost an even split between all three options. Around one third of the ActionStation community chose each of these options, and so - perhaps unwisely - the ActionStation staff team set about making a plan to support our members to implement all three of these approaches. It made for a very full year, for the staff team and for our members, but one in which we saw measurable impact from our work, and some big wins for a fairer and more flourishing Aotearoa.


Key themes of 2017

  • Moving from resisting to reimagining: a People’s Agenda

  • The power of stories: changing the election agenda

  • Together we are stronger: the strength of collaboration

  • An economy that serves all of us: the importance of tax fairness

  • People-power wins: one year of OurActionStation


Moving from resisting to reimagining 

Te Ira Tāngata: People's Agenda for Aotearoa

Over the past three years the ActionStation community of fair-minded people from all over New Zealand have come together, time and again, to resist harmful policies and call for change. In many cases we’ve won small incremental steps in the direction of a more fair and flourishing world. In 2017 our community decided it was time to move beyond resisting what we don’t want for our country, and start reimagining what we do want. With a vision for the future, and a map of the core values and key policies needed to get us there, we’ll be able to use the power of our 180,000 strong (and growing) movement to build a better future for all of us and the planet we love.

This became one of our key focuses this year, to create Te Ira Tāngata: a People’s Agenda, re-centering the political conversation around the values that so many of us share, and offering a positive and cohesive vision of an alternative future.

From June - September, 500 New Zealanders came together in homes, community halls and local cafes for Kai & Kōrero events. Over food, ActionStation members and their whānau, friends and neighbours talked about the values that mattered most to them, and how we could put those values into practice for a better New Zealand for all by 2040.


Using a combination of these discussions, surveys, and community funded research, we put together a People’s Agenda that set out a vision for the future of Aotearoa New Zealand and the values needed to underpin that future: equality and fairness, kaitiakitanga, aroha, community and belonging, and manaakitanga.

How did we use the People's Agenda? 

Once we had crowdsourced a vision for the future of our country, we worked with experts in each area covered by that vision to develop a set of policy pathways needed to get us there. We talked to academics, advocates, policy experts, and people who had lived experience of the issues. We then sent all political parties a survey asking them to tell us how much they agreed with each of our nine crowd-sourced vision statements.

Using the policy pathways recommended by expert advisors as our guide, and drawing on all the published policies and survey responses from the political parties, we put together voter scorecards in 14 policy areas including housing, mental health, water, climate change, income, tax, justice, gender, accessibility, trade, foreign policy, LGBQTIA+, and abuse in state care.

Each party got a score based on the alignment of their vision and their policies, with the vision and policies in our People’s Agenda. We also used polling data to analyse the likelihood of each party winning seats in Parliament. We then combined all the vision and policy scores into one, matched it with the data on parties’ likelihood to win seats and created an overall scorecard to help voters see how all the parties stacked up against Te Ira Tāngata: People's Agenda

These voter scorecards were distributed by email to our existing membership, and through social media to a wider audience. At the height of our election campaign, our Facebook posts were being seen by half a million people every day.

While it's impossible to measure the exact impact this campaign had on the election outcome, we can say with confidence that half a million New Zealanders were seeing our posts every day in the lead up to the election, providing them with a values-based, non-party-aligned analysis of how the parties stacked up against the values and policies that matter most to our members. When we launched, just over three years ago, this scale of reach and impact was just a dream.

What's next for Te Ira Tāngata? 

Te Ira Tāngata lifts our sights as a movement and sets us up for the long game. The transformational change we seek won’t be achieved in one election cycle, so Te Ira Tangata helps us look beyond the day-to-day of politics to a more hopeful and long-term trajectory of progress.

This People’s Agenda has therefore become our strategic guide at ActionStation, underpinning everything we do, and giving us a clear picture of the change our movement looks to be making in coming years.

Our People’s Agenda will provide a benchmark for assessing whether or not government decisions match our community’s aspirations. It will enable us to hold to account whichever government is in power.

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The power of stories

This year we put the idea that stories are powerful to the test. We built two of our biggest campaigns around collecting, reporting on and amplifying people’s stories. Research shows us that stories are one of the most effective tools we have for cultivating empathy. More than facts, and much more than figures, stories help us put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, which in turn helps motivate us to make the change needed to rebalance our economy and society so that it is fair for all. 

Our two story-based campaigns have proven this again, both resulting in widespread media coverage and policy change. Read on to see how one of the most powerful contributions people can make to social change is by sharing their story. 


The People's Mental Health Report

One of the highlights of the year for our community was the success of the People’s Mental Health Report. Together we put mental health onto the election agenda.

Mental health has long been a priority for members of the ActionStation community, ranking amongst the top issues in many of our member surveys. In September last year, frustrated by the Government’s unwillingness to launch their own inquiry into the state of our public mental health system, we decided to launch our own.

We launched the People’s Mental Health Review with Kyle MacDonald and Mike King with an open call for stories of people’s experience of the public mental health system. We expected maybe 50 or 100 stories. We received over 500.

This campaign taught us the power of stories and of the courage shown by people who tell their own stories of suffering in the hope that things will be different for others in the future.

When we released the People’s Mental Health Report, built around those 500 stories, it got a level of media and political attention we’d never seen with any previous campaign. Week after week, journalists asked us for more stories from our report so they could keep story alive. We knew this would keep the pressure on politicians, and it worked. In the 2016 Budget the government announced a last minute allocation of funds to improve mental health services in New Zealand and during the election campaign all the political parties released policies focused on improving mental health.

Mental health was a major policy platform of Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party and the recommendations of our People’s Mental Health Report have been included in policies of the new government and in both coalition agreements.

When Marianne and Kyle MacDonald met with Health Minister David Clark in November to thank him for all his support of the People’s Mental Health Report, he confirmed the government planned to implement all the recommendations of the People's Mental Health Report. An urgent independent inquiry will be followed by the re-establishment of the mental health commission.

Marianne and Kyle MacDonald meeting with Health Minister David Clark

"It’s rare for any campaign to have this kind of impact in just over a year, so everyone who made this campaign possible - whether by sharing their story, contributing to the costs of running the campaign, adding their name to the open letter, emailing their MP or sharing the report with their friends and family - should feel very proud of the part you played in putting mental health at the heart of the new government’s agenda."



- Marianne Elliott, ActionStation Co-Director


Here is some footage of our campaign from Māori TV:

Here we are putting up a few cheeky billboards in Northcote:


The People's Review of Renting

This year we helped put the lives of people who rent into the housing debate. As a result the new government has already passed a law to ensure better quality of rental homes, and has committed to a full review of the Residential Tenancy Act next year.

Early in 2017 it became clear that the housing crisis would be a key issue in the election, but renters were largely being left out of the picture. So we drew on the lessons we had learned from the People’s Mental Health Report and teamed up with Renters United to launch the People's Review of Renting. Our plan was to highlight the realities of renting in New Zealand by putting stories of people who rent at the heart of the debate.

Four key themes emerged from the hundreds of stories we received, and five recommendations were made aimed to improve conditions for New Zealand renters. Our People’s Review of Renting report was released a couple of months before the election and helped to change the media narrative and policy priorities of political parties leading into the election.

Shortly after the government was formed we met with Green Party Housing Spokesperson Marama Davidson. We then handed over our People’s Review of Renting report and open letter, supporting the recommendations of the report, to Housing Minister Phil Twyford.  

They listened! 

Phil Twyford announced a a housing stocktake inquiry to get the real numbers and information on the state of housing in New Zealand. This is due by Christmas. Things continue to look up for people who rent - at the start of December Twyford also announced plans to review the Residential Tenancy Act in 2018 to deliver more security of tenancy for people who rent. The improved Healthy Homes Guarantee Act which sets minimum standards for rentals to be warm and dry became law two weeks after we met with Minister Twyford.

Handing over our People's Review of Renting Report to Housing Minister Phil Twyford.  

Handing over our People's Review of Renting Report to Housing Minister Phil Twyford.  


Winning Collaborations

Another major theme of 2017 was the strength that comes from working together. This isn’t a new lesson for ActionStation, we’ve been collaborating with community groups, advocates, researchers and others since the day we started. But this year our collaborations were even more effective than ever, thanks to some amazing collaborators and some good lessons we’ve learned along the way.

In the section of this report about the power of stories, we’ve already outlined our powerful collaborations with Renters United and with Kyle MacDonald and Mike King. Here are three other collaborations that made a difference on the issues our members care about this year.


RockEnrol is a youth-led, volunteer-powered and nonpartisan movement which combines social media, music, art and events to engage and inspire young people in the political process, and uses digital and community organising to inform and activate young people's political power.

In 2017, ActionStation supported RockEnrol’s efforts to increase the overall youth vote, which helped contribute to a 6.5 percent increase in youth voter turnout in 2017, as compared to 2014. However, because fewer young people were enrolled to vote in this election, the overall increase in young people voting was marginal - from 47.4 to 47.6 percent.

So there is still a lot of work to do to fulfil RockEnrol’s mission, which is to engage, inspire, inform and activate the political power of young people in Aotearoa New Zealand. The ActionStation community has always been enthusiastic about this mission, and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with RockEnrol over the coming three years as they build the power and momentum of their movement, with the goal of increasing youth political engagement by 2020.

Check out RockEnrol's recruitment video

Choose Clean Water: cleaning up our rivers

Working with Choose Clean Water, we helped make cleaning up our rivers a hot topic this election! Politicians had to pay attention because you made it impossible to ignore.

When the government changed the definition of the ‘swimmable’ standard for water in our rivers, ActionStation members were not happy, so we did something about it.

More than 1700 ActionStation members made submissions to the Ministry for the Environment, and to a Parliamentary Select Committee, calling for improved standards to protect our rivers. When those calls were ignored, we realised we’d need to do more to get politicians’ attention and took our campaign to the streets and the rivers themselves.

We crowdfunded a massive billboard on Wellington’s busy Manners Street, floated giant inflatable poop emojis on a lake and baked poop-themed cupcakes, which ActionStation member Mary managed to deliver to Environment Minister Nick Smith.  These fun stunts, with a serious message, made politicians take notice about the state of our rivers.

Reactions to our giant crowdfunded billboard on Manners St, Wellington

#cutthecrap giant inflatable poop emoji stunt on Lake Ohakuri

You don't want poo on your kids - cleaning up our rivers ad


Better Public Media Trust: funding public broadcasting and media

In another powerful collaboration we teamed up with Better Public Media Trust and community campaigner Jo Bond to to unfreeze RNZ funding - and won!

In May, you helped secure an increase in Radio New Zealand funding after an eight year freeze from Government. 32,337 of us signed the petition which resulted in the Government announcing a long overdue $2.85m funding boost for the best station in the nation. Incredible.

While this wasn’t anywhere near the  $14m they needed, any increase in funding was a win for people power and public broadcasting.

But funding wasn’t the only issue, so together with Better Public Media Trust we created the People’s Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media.

We put together a diverse panel of industry experts, made up of Mark Jennings, Bill Ralston, Kay Ellmers, Lizzie Marvelly, Shamubeel Eaqub and Lance Wiggs, who traveled around New Zealand to listen to the views of New Zealanders from within and outside of the media and broadcasting sector. The panel made six recommendations, including a further funding increase for RNZ and New Zealand on Air.  

The report of the People’s Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media was released at the end of November, and a week later the Broadcasting Minister, Clare Curran, announced a funding increase of $38 million to be split between RNZ and NZOA. There are five other recommendations in the report, so we have more work to do, but this is a stunning win for public interest media and broadcasting in Aotearoa. And you helped make this happen.

Our 33,327-strong petition being delivered in a giant block of ice on Parliament lawn

The People's Commission on Public Broadcasting and Media Wellington workshop


Handing over the People's Commission of Public Broadcasting and Media to the Broadcasting Minister


Other collaborations that made an impact in 2017

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our collaborations this year. Here are some of the other groups and individuals who worked with ActionStation to make a difference on the issues that matter to our members this year.   

  • LUSH

  • It’s Our Future

  • White Man Behind a Desk

  • Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association

  • New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations

  • The Freshwater Rescue Plan coalition

  • Civic Dinners

  • Amnesty International New Zealand

  • The Yes We Care coalition

  • #WeAreBeneficiaries

  • The Collective Project

  • Child Poverty Action Group

  • People Against Prisons Aotearoa

  • JustSpeak

  • New Zealand Drug Foundation

  • Community In Action

  • Peace Action Wellington

  • Shakti Wellington Refuge

  • New Zealand Human Rights Commission

  • The Access Alliance

  • Anti-Bullying Council NZ

  • NZ Medical Students Association

  • Peace Action Wellington (& Auckland)

  • Generation Zero

  • 350 Aotearoa

An economy that serves all of us: the importance of tax fairness

Whenever people campaign for better public services - whether in mental health, social housing, public broadcasting or environmental protection - they’re met with concerns about the cost of these essential services. But the solution to underfunded public services isn’t very complicated. We simply need to ensure that our tax system is fair and that massive corporations and the mega-wealthy are contributing their fair share to these services, which they all benefit from.

So this year ActionStation members stepped up our campaigns for tax fairness.
ActionStation members Anita and Gemma with crowdfunded posters in Auckland and Wellington

ActionStation members Anita and Gemma with crowdfunded posters in Auckland and Wellington

We can all think of wealthy people and corporate CEOs who do the right thing. They pay their taxes, and contribute to society in many ways. As they should. Unfortunately there are others who do the opposite - they hire expensive accountants and lawyers to weasel their way out of paying tax in New Zealand through offshore transfers.

There's a real, human cost to this tax dodging, and it’s being paid by everyday New Zealanders.

There’s no excuse for our government to leave young families homeless while they let some companies walk off with millions. In fact, there’s a chance some of the families sleeping in vans are paying more tax than multi-nationals like ExxonMobil. That’s why we campaigned to close this $1.24 billion tax loophole, and make sure those funds can be spent on essential services.

We exposed this loophole to the public through giant posters strategically placed around Wellington and delivered an open letter to then Finance Minister Stephen Joyce and Revenue Minister Judith Collins, urging them to implement a diverted profit tax like other countries have successfully done.

We even made a giant postcard to be delivered to Judith Collins to thank her for doing something to reduce tax cheating, while also urging her to do more. We delivered it to her colleague at a public meeting, who passed it on to Judith - which she then tweeted about!

The government responded with steps to clamp down on tax cheats, and the new Labour-led government has already confirmed they’ll continue with this work and make sure that multinational corporations operating in New Zealand pay their fair share of tax here.

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People-powered wins

This year, we celebrated one year of the community campaign platform OurActionStation, putting power in your hands to start campaigns on the issues we all care about.

Local campaign leaders gathered supporters and signatures; held vigils and creative actions; delivered petitions to the steps of Parliament, to Council meetings and to corporations; made official submissions to Select Committees (the groups of MPs looking at different topics); represented their issues to national news media; and best of all, achieved wins for their causes and communities!

Citizen campaigners have launched 184 petitions in the last 12 months  collecting over 155,000 signatures between them. Here are just four of the highlights of OurActionStation this year. 

Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy with Ngā Mōrehu, campaigners and MPs. 

Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy with Ngā Mōrehu, campaigners and MPs. 

Thank you. Thank you for standing for something that you believed in, for supporting the voices of those who for so many years haven’t been heard.
— Anneleise Hall, petition organiser

Justice for Ngā Mōrehu

In July the ActionStation community supported one the most moving events ever held on the steps of Parliament. For over an hour, Ngā Mōrehu - the survivors - shared stories of the abuse they suffered while in state ‘care’ and the impact that abuse has had on their lives and on the lives of their families and children.

A year ago the ActionStation community had rallied around campaigner Anneleise Hall to support her call for an inquiry into the historic abuse of people in state care.

Over decades, more than 100,000 children and vulnerable adults were put into state institutions and suffered terribly. Many were physically, sexually and emotionally abused, and to this day there has never been an inquiry or an official apology from the state.

We ran the petition alongside the Human Rights Commission campaign ‘E Kore Anō: Never Again’ and in June, the survivors themselves delivered the open letter and petition to Parliament. That day meant so much for so many people who had been treated so horrendously for much of their lives.

On that day representatives of every political party were present on Parliament lawn to show support, except for National. Now the new government, a coalition of parties present that day, have made the inquiry a priority in their first 100 days.

The recognition and validation of the pain and experiences of ngā morehu by the government has now begun. Let’s learn from our past and ensure it never ever happens again.


Ending Homelessness

Over the course of 12 months James Crow from Gimme Shelter ran an OurActionStation campaign asking the National government to create effective policy to end homelessness. Unlike other countries in the OECD, New Zealand does not give responsibility to ending homelessness to one Government ministry. It doesn’t even have clear data to measure the scale of the problem.

More than 10,000 ActionStation members supported the campaign and the petition was delivered in May this year to Labour MPs Jacinda Ardern and Phil Twyford - now the Prime Minister and Minister for Housing, respectively.

At the petition handover in May: Tenisha Kumar (AUT Human Rights), Laura O’Connell Rapira (ActionStation), James Crow (Gimme Shelter), Phil Twyford (Labour, now Minister for Housing), Jacinda Ardern (Labour, now Prime Minister), Shahd Mahmoud (AUT Human Rights) and Dr Desmond Darby (ActionStation volunteer) with images showing the OECD Ministers responsible for homelessness alongside the missing New Zealand Minister.

At the petition handover in May: Tenisha Kumar (AUT Human Rights), Laura O’Connell Rapira (ActionStation), James Crow (Gimme Shelter), Phil Twyford (Labour, now Minister for Housing), Jacinda Ardern (Labour, now Prime Minister), Shahd Mahmoud (AUT Human Rights) and Dr Desmond Darby (ActionStation volunteer) with images showing the OECD Ministers responsible for homelessness alongside the missing New Zealand Minister.

In June, James made an in-person submission to the Social Services committee on why the Government desperately needs a national strategy on ending homelessness.

The task for the ActionStation community in 2018 is to hold the new Government to account on its promise of action on homelessness.

Phil Twyford, in one of his first steps as the new Minister for Housing, has announced a housing stocktake inquiry to get an overview on the state of housing in New Zealand. This report is due by Christmas.

Lauren and Ruby handing over their petition to Grant Robertson and Jenny Salesa outside Parliament

Lauren and Ruby handing over their petition to Grant Robertson and Jenny Salesa outside Parliament

Putting better sex education in schools

High school students Lauren Jack and Ruby Medlicott worked with the ActionStation community to put the call for better sex education back in the national news. Lauren and Ruby started their OurActionStation campaign in March after a demonstration by students outside Parliament in March against rape culture.

In August, Lauren and Ruby presented their petition at Parliament with 5708 signatures with support from fellow students. Their demand for better sex education around consent and healthy relationships ensured the then-Minister for Education Nikki Kaye heard the message. It gained cross-party political support and was reported by 1 News, Dominion Post, Radio NZ, Newshub, among others.

MP Grant Robertson tabled the petition officially at Parliament where it will be discussed at the Education select committee, in the new year.

One of the important things for us [doing this petition] is that it’s really started the discussion. It’s never an easy conversation to have, and it’s never an easy topic to cover
— Ruby, petition organiser

Saving Porotī Springs


"From all our supporters and our hapū Te Uriroroi, Te Parawhau, Te Mahurehure of Whatitiri we thank you and the team of ActionStation for providing this platform for democracy."



Millan Ruka, Campaigner


In August Millan Ruka, representative of Te Uroiori, Te Parawhau and Te Mahurehure ki Whatitiri hapū, was facing an uphill battle, single-handedly putting together a submission to try and stop the application for a water bottling factory at Porotī Springs near Whangarei. The proposed factory was against the wishes of local community, and if built would have not only threatened the purity of the spring and aquifer but also added increased traffic and industrial activity in the local community around Poroti Reserve.

Using the OurActionStation platform Millan mobilised over 800 ActionStation members to come together to make official submissions against the factory, and over 1300 in total supported Millan’s own submission. These actions showed the applicant Zodiac Holdings the overwhelming opposition it was facing for the consent to build the factory, and as a result, Zodiac withdrew their application.

Zodiac Holdings still have access to the hapū-owned water, so this is just one step in the campaign for Millan. The ActionStation community will be ready to again take action to protect the local community’s rights to the spring.


2017 in photos

Check out our gallery of photos here:

2017 in numbers 


What is ActionStation?

ActionStation is a vehicle for people of all backgrounds to unite independent of party politics, special interests and the usual labels that divide us.

We act together to create what we cannot achieve on our own: a society, economy and democracy that works for us.

Our campaigns, and the people who power them, are diverse in many ways but they share a commitment to fairness and the common good. It’s our shared values, plus a willingness to act, that makes someone an ‘ActionStation kind of person’.


What do we stand for? 

As a movement we are committed to certain core progressive values. We act to promote and protect human rights, economic fairness, a flourishing planet and a transparent and accountable democracy. We honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi). Together we’ve identified the values of community, care, compassion, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and aroha as central to building a more fair and flourishing future for all of us and the planet we love.

Laura and Eugenie Sage at the petition delivery to save the Haast tokoeka kiwi from a pipeline being built through their sanctuary

Laura and Eugenie Sage at the petition delivery to save the Haast tokoeka kiwi from a pipeline being built through their sanctuary


Looking forward to 2018 and beyond

Working together for a transparent democracy that serves us was at the heart of all our work in this election year. We expected this election to be closely fought and knew that many people wanted a change to the status quo. But some of the issues that mattered most to our members were missing from the election agenda. With your help, we made mental health, clean rivers and homelessness into hot topics in the lead up to theelection and in response, the parties released new policies promising to tackle these problems. 

So what is ActionStation’s job in the face of a new and more progressive government promising a kinder and more compassionate approach, and more action on mental health, homelessness, climate change, poverty and clean rivers?

Our job is to show strong support for the government when they take positive action on the issue we’ve campaigned on together. Big business will be spending many thousands of dollars on lobbying the government to get the changes they want, so we still need our collective people power to make sure decisions made are in the best interests of us — the people of New Zealand.

Our job is also to show the government that there is widespread support for them to aim even higher, and start making some of the bigger, bolder changes urgently needed to get us to a fair and flourishing future for all in Aotearoa by 2040.

We know that it’s unrealistic to expect our vision for Aotearoa New Zealand to be achieved in these next three years but ActionStation isn’t going away. We’ll be here to make sure the Government delivers on all their promises, and to hold them to account if they don’t. The People’s Agenda helps us to look beyond the day-to-day of politics to a more hopeful and long-term trajectory of progress.

So what does that mean for ActionStation?


As always, ActionStation will respond to the changing political environment and to the aspirations of our members. But we already know there are some areas in which we need to grow as a movement to be ready to have even more impact in the years ahead.

Establishing a sustainable funding base for ‘slow work’

ActionStation relies on small contributions from many members to resource our work. This guarantees our independence and keeps the whole movement accountable to our members. But we’ve built most of our funding base on one-off contributions, people chipping in for specific campaigns and tactics. This is great for enabling us to get a strong picture of which issues are most important to our members, but it means we have to fundraise every time we want to take action. A more sustainable funding base, with more members contributing to our work on a regular basis, would enable us to plan ahead for the kind of campaigns that take more time to win, and allow us to be more responsive when opportunities arise to act quickly.  

Attracting an increasingly diverse community of members

ActionStation is already a diverse community of New Zealanders, but we suspect some groups are underrepresented. Diversity in our movement matters because our members set our agenda. If we want the power of our movement to be directed to the change that matters in Aotearoa, we need that direction to be set by a diverse range of New Zealanders.  

Building a volunteer network and the capacity to support them

We know there is much more potential in the ActionStation community than we have yet seen. Every week members of our community get in touch to say that they want to do more to grow our movement and win campaigns. But our tiny staff team has never had the systems or infrastructure in place to properly support a scaled-up volunteer network. That needs to change if we are going to unleash the full political power of this movement. So one of our strategic goals for the coming year is to begin to build the systems we need to support real volunteer power.

Learning more about who our members are

There are two main reasons for us to prioritise learning more about who our community members are: firstly so that we can better customise the campaigns we share with them, including local campaigns, and secondly so that we can see how diverse and representative our community really is - and take steps to improve that if we need to.



How will we get there?

We plan to make progress towards Te Ira Tāngata: our People’s Agenda for Aotearoa - while also building our capacity and momentum as a movement by doing more of what we’ve done in the past . We’ll run campaigns that win progress on the issues that matter, through the collective power of our members taking action on and offline.

In 2018, as in past years, there will be three main types of campaigns at ActionStation:

  • We’ll continue to support community-led campaigns through OurActionStation. When we have to make choices about which campaigns to put our limited resources into, we’ll focus on those campaigns that align with the priorities in our People’s Agenda.

  • We’ll continue to run 3-4 core campaigns throughout the year. These are campaigns led by ActionStation staff and we choose them based on member priorities across four key areas: economic fairness and whānau wellbeing; environmental protection; transparent democracy; and human and indigenous rights.

  • We’ll also continue to respond to urgent moments when they arise by running rapid response campaigns on any issues that fall within our People’s Agenda.


How we're funded

Our income this year and what we've done with it

Who funds us? You do. When we say ActionStation is people-powered, this includes our funding.

ActionStation’s support for community campaigning is made possible through contributions made by people like you. Your contribution, however big or small, will go to support campaigns on the issues that matter to our community. We rely entirely on member donations and grants to keep this engine running. We receive no government funding. Our team works hard to ensure even the smallest contributions go a long way. No amount is too small and all donations are used to help build a fair and flourishing New Zealand.

Help us make 2018 even better.

Income 2014/15

(From Dec 1 2014 - Nov 30 2015)

Income 2015/16

  • Member donations
  • Grants
  • Member donations
  • Grants
(From Dec 1 2015 - Nov 30 2016)

Income 2016/17

(From Dec 1 2016 - Nov 30 2017).

We told you back in 2015 we had a goal of being 100% member funded by 2018 - we haven’t forgotten our promise! We’re well on our way of being so, but the ambitious goals of our members this election year demanded some additional funding. We needed more hands on deck for the two months leading up to the election, and the generosity of some major donors helped make that possible. A major donation from Quatro Management Limited, for the purpose of promoting progressive values in politics and increasing democratic engagement, enabled us to contract full time researchers and designers, and part-time writers and digital media experts for those final two months.

Setting aside grants and major donations, our member-based support has also increased substantially from 2016 to 2017, allowing our team to expand to four full-time campaigners, plus a part-time administrator and contracted developer.


11,280 donations were made online this year by 4,270 people, averaging $23 each.


We’re proud of what we’ve managed to achieve with the relatively little we’ve had; here’s how we spent it:

Expenses 2014/15

(From 1 Dec 2014 - 30 Nov 2015)

Expenses 2015/16

(From 1 Dec 2015 - 30 Nov 2016)

Expenses 2016/17

(From 1 Dec 2016 - 30 Nov 2017)

Who’s behind ActionStation?

As individuals, there’s a limit to what we can achieve. Especially if we don’t happen to be billionaire CEOs, politicians or senior bureaucrats. But when we act together, we prove time and again that we can achieve amazing things. ActionStation is a movement of more than 180,000 people.

All our members and volunteers participate in different ways, and in ways they are equipped and passionate about doing so. Generally our core members fit into one of three categories; sustainers, catalysts or volunteers.

  • Sustainers are the people who make regular donations to the core fund. We rely on these people who support us regularly, whether it be weekly or monthly, to keep us going. This is generally spent on things like office space, staff wages, lights, internet and keeping our website running. These regular donations also mean we can be ready when new and exciting opportunities arise in the changing social and political environment.

  • Catalysts: these are the people who want to take action into their own hands to get things done. Our catalysts are those that start up their own campaigns, generally through OurActionStation.

  • Volunteers: People who give up their time and energy to actively participate in ActionStation campaigns. We want to say thanks to some of our regular volunteers that have helped us this past year: Eve, John, Ravaani, Anna and Aaron. We also want to give a very special shout out and thanks to volunteer Ellen Tisch who put together this Annual Report!

Who "we" are

Our team, our volunteers, our board

We do a lot with a little. Our staff team is tiny compared to many similar organisations in New Zealand. We’re able to achieve much more than would normally be possible for a small team by:

  • being lean and efficient in our work systems

  • having the support of devoted volunteers (our board, our member review panel, our regular volunteers)

  • drawing on the resources of our whole community

We are four (and a half) full-time staff and a few key volunteers who have been at ActionStation for the long haul, definitely working more than full-time during this year's election. Being such a busy year for us at ActionStation, we also had Roxanne, Felix, Kat, Kate, Silvia, and Elaine join us for two months in the lead up to the election. While ActionStation ultimately belongs to and is shaped and driven by our members, our staff team exists to oversee the campaigns, develop strategies for winning the campaigns that matter to our members and keep looking ahead to plan what we can do together next to make Aotearoa New Zealand even better.


Our Team

Our team: Vim, Marianne, Rick, (Franklin), Laura and Eliot (not pictured, Ann)

Our team: Vim, Marianne, Rick, (Franklin), Laura and Eliot (not pictured, Ann)


Laura O’Connell Rapira

Laura O'Connell Rapira (Te Ātiawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa) is the Director of Campaigns at ActionStation. She is the co-founder of RockEnrol, a volunteer-powered organisation dedicated to building and activating political power for young people. She serves on the Voting Assembly of Greenpeace New Zealand and the Youth Advisory Panel for Manawa Ahi. Laura is passionate about unleashing the power of people through digital and community organising, effective collaboration and values-based communications.

Rick Zwaan

Rick Zwaan is our Campaigner focusing on supporting all our campaigns. Rick’s previous work includes leading a major Students’ Association advocating for student rights, coordinating political campaigns, representing New Zealand young people at international climate negotiations and travelling around the country with The ReGeneration Trust showcasing inspiring community change makers. Rick believes we all play a part in cultivating positive social and environmental change in Aotearoa and sees ActionStation as a key vehicle enabling the our collective power to be realised.

Marianne Elliott

Marianne Elliott is our Director of Story and Strategy. Trained as a human rights lawyer, Marianne worked in Timor-Leste, New Zealand and the Gaza Strip before going to Afghanistan, where she served in the United Nations. Marianne is co-founder of several social impact businesses, including ActionStation and La Boca Loca and Boquita restaurants in Wellington. Marianne believes in the power of stories to change not only our understanding of the world, but to in turn change the world itself.

Eliot Pryor

Eliot Pryor is our Community Campaigns Manager looking after OurActionStation and supporting your campaigns. He was formerly Campaign Director of the animal advocacy group SAFE and had roles previous to this with Amnesty International NZ. He has adventured to different corners of the globe but always comes back to Aotearoa.

Vimal Jobanputra

Vim is ActionStation’s tech advisor and developer. Originally from the UK he now lives in NZ with his wife and two daughters. He's been tinkering with computers as long as he can remember, and building software professionally for 20 years. He's co-founded and worked with a number of early stage start-ups and social enterprises, and loves seeing big ideas come to life. He cares deeply about building software that is robust, intuitive, and has purpose.

Ann Cloet

Ann is both a regular volunteer on ActionStation’s core campaigns and our part time office manager. She first got involved with ActionStation as one of the Wellington-based volunteer leaders of our health campaign, and since then has worked with Marianne on the People’s Mental Health Report and many other campaigns. She also ensures our bills are paid on time and that all our finance and admin systems are kosher. Like our new PM, Ann believes the economy should serve people, not the other way around.

Former team members

Ta’ase Vaoga

Ta’ase joined our team just a few months before the election this year, bringing with her an incredible array of skills and experience. She helped improve the way we stay in touch with our members, made improvements to several of our data processes, added her insights to strengthen our fundraising strategy and contributed to campaign planning and communications. Ta’ase is now applying those many skills to the essential work of sexual violence prevention.


Nina Atkinson

Nina has been part of the ActionStation team, in various roles, since the beginning. Amongst other things she set up our community campaign site OurActionStation, established the Member Review Panel who provide voluntary oversight of campaigns on that site, co-ordinated the People’s Climate March in Wellington and devised and delivered on many of our most playful campaign tactics. Earlier this year Nina left ActionStation to join our Australian mates at GetUp, where she’s working on the campaign to stop the Adani coal mine. They’re lucky to have her.

Silvia Zuur

Silvia joined ActionStation as a regular volunteer and went on to apply her considerable skills in facilitation, experience design and event management to lead the Kai & Kōrero project at ActionStation, and support the delivery of the events part of our collaboration with RockEnrol. Silvia has now finished with ActionStation, but her contribution to ActionStation’s work in 2017 was so critical that we still wanted to thank her specifically.


Our volunteer member review panel

Our Volunteer member review member panel are a group of ActionStation members who read and review every campaign submitted to OurActionStation. These members were invited based on the commitment they had demonstrated to the broader mission of ActionStation (as opposed to support for a single campaign or issue), either by taking part in a broad range of our campaigns, by being a core supporter of the movement or by running campaigns with us themselves.

The panel in 2017:

  • Kyle MacDonald
  • Lauren Jack
  • Mandy Hager
  • Jackson Vogt
  • Marnie Reid
  • Murdoch Stephens
  • Kera Sherwood-O'Regan
  • Rebekah Sherriff
  • Susi Newborn

Our board

Our board help us with overseeing all decisions we make and help us to stay true to our core values. 


Megan Salole

Megan Salole is co-chair on ActionStation's board. She is a social entrepreneur currently based in Christchurch, initiating projects that bring about a more connected, conscious world. She ran an award winning design company for a decade, and was the champion for ActionStation after managing a national political campaign in 2011, increasing the vote share by 60% and discovering the gaps in the party political model along the way.

Lani Evans

Lani Evans is the other co-chair on ActionStation’s board. She is a CEO, adventurer, avid promoter of generosity and advocate for good climate change policy. She is Co-Chair of the Thankyou Charitable Trust, a grant-making organisations that has developed an innovative 'pay-it-forward' funding model that puts the decision making in the hands of communities. Lani's past adventures include running national youth organisation The ReGeneration Trust, creating a series of documentaries about inspiring community changemakers and being one of the first women to successfully walk the length of the South island via the Southern Alps.

Garth Nowland-Foreman

Garth has extensive nonprofit governance experience. For six years he was national director of a major advocacy group for low-income and disadvantaged people in Australia. He has taught for 18 years in a graduate programme on not for profit leadership, has a keen interest in research-you-can-use, and is widely published on government/nonprofit relations. Garth also brings strong political analysis - he ran a national advocacy nonprofit in Australia; operated in Cabinet minister's office, serviced a Parliamentary inquiry, participated in several government advisory bodies; and managed a government policy unit.

Allie Cunninghame

Allie is a litigator in a large national law firm. As well as bringing much needed legal expertise to the Board, Allie’s work with corporate and government clients, combined with her passion for social justice, diversity and sustainability, gives her an understanding of and tools to negotiate corporate and government worlds and aids her goal of facilitating positive change, step by step. Allie is on the board of trustees of her son’s Intermediate School and she volunteers at Community Law Otago.

Phill Coxon

Phill Coxon is our Treasurer. Phill runs his own consulting business (Get Results Limited) in Christchurch.  He is also heavily involved with the Enspiral group based in Wellington which is doing amazing things to make the world a better place, one social enterprise at a time. Phill is Enspiral Foundation’s Financial Operations Manager, Collaborative Funding Manager and is a Enspiral Services Limited Director. He also co-leads the Enspiral Services Limited Lean Lab Team.


Thank you!

Phew. When you sit down and read about all those campaigns in one go it helps explain why we’re all feeling so tired going into the summer holiday this year. It really has been a very big year. But it was more than worth it for the wins.

Warmer, dryer homes for renters and a review of tenancy law coming soon. Increased access to mental health services for young people and an inquiry into mental health services and into abuse in state care. A massive, well-overdue, boost in funding for Radio NZ and New Zealand On Air. And to help fund it all - shutting down the loopholes exploited by the big tax cheats. And that’s only the start.

None of this would be possible without you. ActionStation isn’t like many other NGOs. We don’t run on a team of 20 or 30 people who spend most of their time fundraising so that a small group of professional campaigners and advocates can do the work of lobbying the government for change.

Our movement is funded in the simplest and most lean way possible and our tiny team is here to support the work of the real campaigners and changemakers in our community: you!

This genuinely people-powered model means we can have an impact that reaches far beyond anything that a team of four could achieve in a traditional NGO model. We devote our limited resources to ensuring your efforts, your stories, your contributions, your ideas and your voices have the most impact possible.

It’s our shared commitment to a fairer and flourishing future, combined with our willingness to get to work to make the changes we need to get that future, that defines an ActionStation member. And it is a privilege to serve you all.


Thank you, for all you do.

Marianne and Laura

ActionStation Co-Directors


Connect with us

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We rely on people like you to keep us going. Please consider helping us to make 2018 even better