CSI: Parks and reserves

It was a sunny Monday morning. The wind was rustling gently through the golden leaves of the willows by the river. Although crisp and clear outside, the normal morning run through this park felt different. Something had changed...

park-benchIt wasn’t that the paths were swept. It wasn’t the fact that it was colder than usual. It wasn’t even the woman running with her dog, listening to the latest Katy Perry song blaring through her oversized headphones.

After some deliberation, the cause of the unsettling feeling became clear. There was a new bench. And a new path leading toward that bench.

Someone had changed your park! The mystery had just begun…

What changes?

Although not as exciting or dramatic as an episode of CSI, the world of environmental governance can be an interesting place. There’s lots of work that goes on to maintain parks, reserves, and natural resources. And many of us care about those spaces, because they enrich our daily lives.

In some cases, the work to maintain a public space can be small: some boards manage operational activities like creating paths, deciding where to place new seats, or choosing what species of tree to plant.

In other cases, the work can be much greater: setting a strategic vision for a reserve, setting performance frameworks for management staff, or even providing or sourcing millions of dollars of funding so environmental work can continue to be carried out in the future.

And sometimes, the work that these boards do can include both the big and the small.

Who’s making those decisions about your public spaces? How? Under what authority?

Giving you some answers

In the next blog, I’ll explain a bit more about who can be involved in these governance and management arrangements. And I’ll explain the “what” and the “why” of having the Auditor-General’s staff looking at this topic.

And if you stick with me in this investigation, you’ll be treated with exciting stories of road trips to places like Rotorua, Hamilton, and Rolleston. You may also experience wildly appropriate extended metaphors. And if you’re lucky, you might even get a sneak peak at one or two of the key principles of good governance, as told by those mysterious folk making decisions about your public spaces – including where to put the new bench.


Each post from me will include a photo of a place we’ve visited. Do you know where this photo was taken?


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