Reporting back

Lifting engagement

Date: 01 July 2019
Reporting Frequency: Annually
Category: Regional Leadership


Increase in residents’ understanding of Environment Canterbury’s role.


77% of surveyed residents feel they fully understand (15%), know a little but would like more (31%) or know a little and don’t need to know more (31%) Environment Canterbury’s role.

About this goal

In July 2018 we conducted a first round of market research to gain insight into how much Canterbury residents know about our organisation. We repeated the survey in 2019.

We undertook this independent benchmarking exercise with 540 in 2018 and 515 in 2019 community residents to gauge the level of understanding of Environment Canterbury and the work it does.

Broad survey topics and objectives were:

  • Awareness of Environment Canterbury and what it does, what services it provides.
  • Awareness of the different roles of Environment Canterbury vs their local city/district council.
  • The overall sense of Environment Canterbury performance, as well as suggestions for improvement.
  • Communication and engagement – do people feel informed; how do they find out information.

The second round of research found that 20% stated the organisation's performance was good or excellent, compared to 21% in 2018.

Participants were more positive about how well we manage air quality (36% saying good or excellent) – same as 2018, but less positive about Canterbury's freshwater management (24%) – up from 19% in 2018.

Those who said they knew more about the organisation were more positive than those who didn’t know what the organisation does, and those who had received information through Environment Canterbury’s social media and website were particularly positive. In the coming year, we will broaden the organisation’s communication efforts so that more residents are aware of Environment Canterbury and why we do what we do.

Our work on both air quality and water quality is ongoing, and it is promising to see the increased awareness in the community around these important issues. Air quality has been a real focus of our awareness-raising work in the community in recent years. See the results around the resulting improvement in air quality.

*In 2019 a new question was introduced ‘I know a little, and that is sufficient. I don’t need to know anymore’.

Specifically the 45% of residents who would like to learn more would like to learn more about:

  • 73%: Everything - comprehensive detail of what they do: governance, decision making, etc, in layman’s terms - more transparency (64% in 2018).
  • 6%: Financial transparency - who funds it, where the funds go (9% in 2018).
  • 6%: How to participate in ECan’s decisions and policies/understand why things are done a certain way (8% in 2018).
  • 3%: Freshwater management - more info about safety, farming run-off (5% in 2018).
  • 2%: Transport and urban development information (3% in 2018).
  • 2%: Contact information - by department, be accessible/information about elected members (3% in 2018).

Why does it matter?

We want to ensure that citizens are engaged and enabled to play an active part in shaping our region's future, and we measure this through the level of community understanding of the work of Environment Canterbury as well as regional issues.

What's being done?

The results helped us form an action plan, which included developing a community engagement plan and a targeted communications work plan which specifically aims to improve understanding of freshwater management – one of our two strategic priorities (the other is enhancing biodiversity).

Our focus is to work with those who need to take action but we recognise that the survey tells us the general public does want to know more. As part of the community engagement plan, we have started running public lectures in Christchurch, our staff and Councillors regularly attend Rotary and other groups to speak, and more information is being added to our news and events section of the website.

Find out more

Read about our progress on air quality and water quality.

Find out how ratepayer funding supports this work with our Rates Tool.


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