The Invercargill Initiative

Our goal is to halve the number of excluded and disadvantaged young people in Aotearoa by 2027.

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It’s an ambitious goal, and we know we can’t achieve it alone – and we can’t achieve it all at once. That’s why we’ve chosen to ‘eat the elephant one bite at a time’ and focus our investment and activities on one regional centre, building relationships, partnering with community and bringing the best of digital technology to open up opportunities and overcome obstacles. Our hypothesis is that by focusing on a distinct geographic region, we can work more effectively, in concert with Vodafone New Zealand, and develop a case study for fast-paced, sustainable and measurable change.

Thriving Rangatahi: Creating a bright future with Invercargill’s young people.

We’ve chosen to focus this work in Invercargill. 30% of Invercargill’s young people experience exclusion and disadvantage. We know incredible work is happening locally to try and build a bright future for these rangatahi – and we want to help by making a long-term investment in the Invercargill community and partnering with local organisations to fast-track the aspirations of young people. We hope to grow the impact of existing initiatives through financial support, and the power of Vodafone’s relationships, skills, and digital technology.

Why Invercargill?

There are rangatahi in need across Aotearoa, and every one of them should have access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. While we hope to extend to other regional centres over time, we are planning to begin in Invercargill for a number of reasons.
Invercargill’s young people are experiencing exclusion and disadvantage at significantly higher rates than the national average. However, the region has organisations and community groups who are doing wonderful work to try and address the challenges these young people are facing. We see an exciting opportunity to deepen the impact of this work by offering long-term, multi-faceted support.

Our work in Invercargill will build on Vodafone New Zealand’s strategic partnership with Te Rünanga o Ngäi Tahu. Together we are aiming to increase digital connectivity within the iwi, and boost diversity in the wider technology sector. This partnership will ensure we are authentically connected with the aspirations and lived realities of Mäori living in Waihöpai and Awarua.

With an uncertain long-term future for the Tiwai Point Smelter, we see an opportunity to work proactively with local initiatives to prevent the widening of existing inequities in the region. A collaborative approach which brings together philanthropy, iwi, government, community, and business is needed to ensure young people and their whänau are provided with work and education pathways in the local area.

And lastly, Vodafone New Zealand is investing into digital infrastructure in the region – with new mobile cell sites, and the roll-out of 5G mobile network technology set to enhance phone and internet connectivity in the area. This investment will allow the Foundation to work towards a future where all young people in Invercargill have access to the digital connection, resources, and skills they need to thrive.

We are committed to taking time to establish solid groundwork for our work in Invercargill. Before any process or funding decisions are made, we will spend six months building relationships in the region. We will listen to local perspectives; hear the community’s thoughts on what is needed; and explore where our funding, skills, technology, and relationships might help create better outcomes for the region’s young people. Everything we learn during this phase will be made freely available to the community. You can learn more about our approach here (PDF, 4MB).