Australia, Global Climate action and sustainable development , Economy and regeneration

Anchor Approaches: Activity domains for system-level transformation



This briefing is the second in our four-part series exploring opportunities for local government to grow local productivity and place-based wellbeing by intentionally adopting Anchor approaches. It is based on learnings from Yunus Centre Griffith University’s (YCGU) work focused on an Auckland Council-led initiative to drive social and economic transformation in the South and West of the City through The Southern and Western Initiative (TSI).

Briefing in full

Established by Auckland Council in 2012, TSI is a place-based innovation focused on local and system-level transformation to improve social, economic, cultural, and environmental wellbeing for current and future generations of South and West Aucklanders. Funding for the initiative is provided by Council, a number of New Zealand Government Agencies, and philanthropic investors, along with in-kind support by TSI staff employed by Auckland Council. The evolution of TSI, over almost a decade, has been informed by an ongoing commitment to learning. This included commissioning two independent reviews, the first in 2017 and the second in 2020, which was undertaken by YCGU. This briefing is informed by the 2020 review, noting that TSI has continued to evolve its work and impact in the period since the review, with further information available on their website.

TSI’s work is broad and ambitious, and reflects a strong social innovation orientation. Within this, YCGU identified that Auckland Council is operating as a powerful and effective Anchor Institution through activating each of the six strategic activity domains (set out in Figure 1 below) to deliver on its clear and intentional objective to support “a prosperous, resilient South and West Auckland where tāmariki (children) and whānau (families) thrive”. A summary of some of the relevant activities and progress in each of the domains is provided below.

Place-based wellbeing priorities 

As noted, TSI’s work is underpinned by a clear intent to support prosperity which enables tāmariki and whānau in the South and West of Auckland to thrive. Informed by local data and lived experience, TSI has a particular focus on improving the wellbeing of Māori and Pasifika families and enterprises. Working in ‘place’, TSI adopts a social innovation and opportunity lens, understanding South and West Auckland as spaces where people can co-create and experience positive futures.

Figure 1: Six strategic activity domains through which Anchor Institutions such as Local Government can support the places and communities in which they operate. 
  • Active collaboration with community
    • Adopting a ‘relational approach’ – meaning that all of TSI’s work is centred on building strong, culturally-led relationships as the basis of wellbeing.
    • Empowering local families and communities (e.g. through facilitation, capacity building, resourcing) to create their own local and fit-for-purpose, strengths-based solutions to the complex challenges they face.
    • Nurturing local ecosystems of diverse stakeholders interested in delivering transformation agendas.
    • Contributing to the development of ‘support ecologies’ which weave together activities, spaces, relationships, capabilities, and opportunities in ways which are more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations than traditional service models.
  • Procurement and supply-chain activities
    • Working with other parts of council to set and monitor council-wide targets for procurement from enterprises that are Māori- and Pasifika-owned and operated
    • Establishing a prototype service, inspired by Australia’s Supply Nation, to grow access to procurement and supply chain opportunities for Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses. This prototype has evolved into Amotai, Aotearoa New Zealand’s Supplier Diversity Intermediary.
  • Local recruitment and workforce development activities
    • Improving access to quality employment which supports prosperity by:
      • Partnering with New Zealand Government agencies to understand issues impacting historic under-representation of Māori and Pasifika workers in the labour market.
      • Supporting Māori and Pasifika Trades Training.
      • Identifying and purposefully targeting skills creation and employment pathway activities in sunrise industries (e.g. innovation and technology, creative industries, animation et cetera).
      • Leading UpTempo – a collective learning program supported by the New Zealand Government and Philanthropic investors, which is partnering with Pasifika families to close the income and wealth gap between Pasifika Peoples and others in South and West Auckland.
    • Employing people from South and West Auckland within the TSI team.
  • Place-based impact investment
    • Seeking opportunities to grow quality jobs in ‘new economy’ work across South and West Auckland, specifically in technology and related fields and food security and resilience
    • Leveraging investment to foster exploratory and experimental attitudes to improving local wellbeing, and sharing insights and learnings to inform practice and policy
    • Successfully attracting significant funds from New Zealand Government and philanthropic organisations, enabling TSI to grow its staffing and its impact
  • Generation and regeneration of infrastructure and healthy environment
    • Facilitating the development of Te Haa o Manukau – a co-working and maker space, to help grow creative and entrepreneurial ventures and support pathways to employment for young people
    • Providing and marketing healthy food, beverages and lifestyles via Council-operated child care and community facilities
    • Improving local food security – including by repurposing underutilised Council land to support development of the Papatoetoe Food Hub
    • Changing the way Council library services are provided, to make them more welcoming and accessible to families experiencing cumulative and toxic levels of stress
  • Growing local affordable housing
    • Working with Kootuitui ki Papapkura and local residents to co-design and deliver local strategies to improve the conditions of local housing, with a focus on making the housing warmer and drier.


Anchor approaches present a range of opportunities for individual local governments to improve place-based wellbeing by intentionally delivering core business activities in ways which also tackle local challenges and leverage local strengths. Auckland Council’s work with and through TSI highlights the diversity of Anchor Strategies which can be generated by local government when they work in a relational way with local community members and partners to co-design new approaches to improving place-based wellbeing. The significant local value generated through this work (e.g. the value of investments unlocked, the number of training graduates employed, the return on investment from specific initiatives) is documented in TSI’s Annual Reports and other publications on their website.

However, it is important to note that while TSI is anchored in and focused on the wellbeing of South and West Auckland, some initiatives have already scaled and extended beyond these communities (e.g. Amotai is now a nation-wide initiative). Equally significantly, the new forms of partnering between Auckland Council, TSI, New Zealand Government agencies, local community, and other funders are demonstrating new approaches to co-creating more prosperous futures locally, and also highlight how broader systems (e.g. cross-government policy development and implementation) might be transformed to improve wellbeing within and beyond Auckland.

Whilst Auckland Council’s capacity (due to size and reach) is larger than that available to many local governments in Australia, the first briefing in this series (Anchor approaches: Amplifying the positive impacts of Local Government) suggests that development and implementation of Anchoring Strategies can be a useful entry point for any local government interested in exploring the efficacy of, or working towards, developing broader anchor approaches that align closely with their capacity and local contexts.

The next briefing in this series will focus in greater detail on opportunities for local government to form anchor collaboratives with other Anchor Institutions to maximise local economic development opportunities. That briefing is informed by work undertaken by Queensland’s Logan City Council in collaboration with YCGU.


About the Yunus Centre Griffith University

Based in Logan, Australia YCGU has adopted an Anchor Institution framing to intentionally align our work in ways that directly benefit the people, businesses and institutions of Logan, as well as our broader University stakeholders. This series is informed by our exploration of Universities as Anchors-in-Place, by our work with Local Governments in Australia and beyond and by the work of The Democracy Collaborative and that of Julia Slay. This briefing draws upon multiple sources including Community Wealth Building in Australia: A New Focus for Regional Economic Development and a previously published review of TSI. It reflects the continuing evolution of our Anchor approach, as shown in Figure 1 of Professor Anne Tiernan’s LGiU briefing (September 2021) Strategies for driving economic regeneration, regional productivity, and innovation which has been modified based on learnings to date. 


Related Briefings


For more information on this briefing contact LGiU Australia by emailing