Credit: Douglas Bagg

Posted on 15 March 2021

Stakeholder survey 2020 - results

In late 2020, we surveyed our co-development partners and stakeholders for feedback on how we could improve our approach and activities to better support our mission ‘to transform Aotearoa New Zealand’s ability to enhance our marine economy and to improve decision-making and the health of our seas through ecosystem-based management’.

We would like to sincerely thank those who participated in the survey. Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa! Your feedback is critical to our success. 

Respondents included:

  • Science and iwi/hapū/whānau researchers
  • Project partners,
  • Hui, event or workshop participants

We’ve analysed the responses and wanted to share the key insights and issues, as well as how we are – or plan to – respond to them.

Main points
  • Research relevance – The vast majority of respondents understood the relevance of the Challenge to them and their organisation, as well as the benefits from our research
    • 65% have also participated in Challenge activities
    • 30% are already using Challenge research
  • Communications and engagement – At both a Challenge and project level, the majority of respondents agreed that the format and frequency of communications and engagement was sufficient and appropriate, with some great suggestions made for continuous improvement – particularly given Covid-19 limitations.
  • Accessibility of research outputs – There is work to do on the form and accessibility of our project outputs for end-users, with 58% noting room for improvement, along with a range of helpful suggestions.
  • Opportunities for partners and stakeholders to contribute – It was good to see that 65% of respondents agreed there were clear opportunities for them to contribute to, and influence our research.
  • Transparency – Only 41% of respondents indicated they were comfortable that their input had been heard and acted upon, so we need to be more transparent about how we respond to feedback and input provided by partners and stakeholders.
  • Support for effective engagement and co-development – The majority of respondents agreed there was sufficient time and resource made available to support effective engagement, with suggestions provided about how to improve the involvement of co-developers.
  • On track to improve marine management – Of our respondents, 84% agreed that Sustainable Seas is on a path to making positive changes to marine management in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Improvements we are making
Greater breadth and coordination

We have appointed Engagement Advisors to support and help co-ordinate our connection and engagement with Government, Māori and industry. 

One area of focus for these Advisors is working with the Communications Team to pull together the findings of our research into packages of information targeted to different sectors, eg:

In addition, we now have a number of ‘place based’ initiatives to apply aspects of our research with councils, iwi, communities and industry.  We hope these regional studies will support greater connections in regions and successful implementation.

Finally, our 2020 Innovation Fund round brought a number of new connections and research partners, particularly from customary and commercial sectors into the Challenge. We are very excited by the opportunities these projects provide to support innovation and the implementation of our research.

More relevant and accessible research outputs

The results of our Phase I projects (2014–2019) are all available through our website, but these are not always in the most relevant or accessible format for many of our partners and stakeholders.  We are undertaking a number of activities to make these more useful for our various audiences by:

  • Better publicising and communicating them – including developing user-focused formats such as guidance documents, webinars, maps and more
  • Trialling the application of our research in various end-user contexts
  • Synthesising across our Phase I projects to bring together findings to add value and make more sense for specific audiences

Our Phase II projects (2019–2024) have all been purposefully co-developed with end-users and planned to include a greater range of outputs for targeted audiences to support implementation, as well as scientific or technical publications. End-users will be involved in determining the form and function of outputs and the way they are communicated.

We have and continue to take our research out to agencies, communities and industry sectors through targeted communication and engagement, and are always keen to take opportunities as they arise.

Due to Covid-19 limitations we have had to hold off on holding our annual conferences and planned roadshow activities. We hope to be able to revitalise those plans in the near future. 

Greater contribution to, and influence over Challenge research

Our co-development expectations in Phase II have been ambitious given the time constraints that all of the Challenges must work within. We have aimed to build upon relationships established in Phase I, as well as having our partners and stakeholders play a greater role, that is resourced appropriately, in our research. In many cases, this role includes co-implementation and delivery, as well as co-design of the form and function of our research outputs.

For our Stakeholder Panel and Kāhui Māori we now provide a quarterly ‘report card’ on each of our projects, and work with our Project Leaders to support their more regular communication with partners and stakeholders.

We have learned many lessons about the challenge of co-development and will review and assess those through the overall synthesis of our research between now and the completion of the Challenge and will share those lessons and insights through a specific synthesis output.

Annual update

We plan to repeat the survey annually so that we can continue to monitor our approach, and the ability for our partners and stakeholders to extract meaningful outcomes from our research.

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