Community Worker

Community Worker - Great Barrier Island community hui participants.The role of the community worker is seen as being strategic in the development of the social fabric of this isolated small community.

For many years the community on Great Barrier Island saw the need for an Island based person who could mobilise existing resources, liaise with government departments on the mainland and disseminate information important to the social, political, economic and cultural needs of the island.

In July 1989 the Health Trust, with back-up from the recently formed Aotea Family Support Group began a serious advocacy campaign for the creation of a community worker project on the Island. A Hui was arranged by COGS (Community Organisation Grant Scheme) to be held at Motairehe Marae in February 1990 with visitors from Auckland Council, Department of Social Welfare, Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand Employment Service, Auckland Area Health Board and COGS. Eventually through a mosaic of financial support, the Community Worker Project (CWP) on Great Barrier Island commenced in August 1990.

In ensuing financial years other funding arrangements have been established; Auckland Council and Ministry of Social Development provide contracted financial support for services provided by the Community Worker (CW).

Community Worker - Mrs Helen Oshea (foreground) and Mr Max Howard arriving at the Hui.
Mrs Helen O’shea (foreground) and Mr Max Howard arriving at the Hui. (Photo provided by Rendt Gorter)

Aotea Health Ltd contracts with the CW for provision of lunch hour reception relief, and patient support services.

Lottery Grants and COGS funds are sought annually to support work done by the CW for the Health Trust; book-keeping, liaison with tradespeople as needed and vehicle fleet management, and for cleaning, insurance and stationary costs incurred in relation to administration of the community end of the building (‘Community House’).

The Community Worker Project budget sits within the Health Trust’s wider financial plan and is carefully monitored to ensure expenditure and targeted funding balances each year.

In recent years there has been a number public/community group meetings called by off-Island agencies; there have been discussions, Hui, forums and workshops initiated variously (for example) by the Royal Commission on Governance (2008), the Ministry of Social Development (Community Response Forum 2011) , Auckland Council (Thriving Communities 2012) and the Auckland District Health Board (2013). Interestingly many of these organisations find that the concepts embodied in this community and specifically in the Health Trust and the CWP reflect the most recent trends within wider community development models; to ‘own’ local needs, provide local solutions, to honour resilience and to have ‘hubs’ where multiple services can be accessed, with a ‘community navigator’ (or community worker) to walk beside individuals needing assistance, or to problem-solve issues with government departments or other agencies.


  • Auckland Council
  • Lottery Grants Board
  • Aotea Health
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS)