by vivian Hutchinson

vivian Hutchinson is the Community Adviser to the New Zealand Mayors Taskforce for Jobs. He is also the editor of The Jobs Letter and a trustee of The Jobs Research Trust and The Employment Catalyst. This paper is based on his keynote speech to the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs annual meeting in Christchurch 14-15 February 2002.

“... The parties to this Memorandum affirm that there is no continuing justification for the “waste of New Zealanders” through unemployment. There needs to be a concerted leadership effort at both local and central government level about the future of work and livelihood and the creation of more opportunities for our children’s children.

“ The jobs of the future will certainly still come from new business opportunities. However, future employment will also be driven by our collective choices to value the new work that needs to be done and ensure Maori and Pacific Island people also have access to these new work opportunities. This will require a shift in thinking about what we value and the parties can play an important governance role in leading these choices on behalf of our communities.”

— from the “Memorandum of Understanding”
between the New Zealand Government and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs,
launched 12 September 2000 at The Beehive, Wellington.


I’m here because I don’t want to live in a New Zealand that has no use for a large number of its young people.

I am encouraged by how this Taskforce has embraced the message of working towards the “zero waste” of New Zealanders. It is encouraging also to see how the Taskforce has taken on its first goal that, by 2005, no young person under 25 years will be out of work or training in our communities.

Employment is doing much better in New Zealand under the current Labour/Alliance government. We have more jobs than ever before in the NZ economy, and the labour force participation rate is climbing.

But we are still not solving unemployment, and we have a long way to go in addressing the deeper layers of this issue. Too many people are still out of work ... and too many of them are young people who have never really started on the journey to livelihood.

According to the latest statistics for December 2001, one in eleven New Zealanders are out of work and want a job. This amounts to 183,000 New Zealanders. When you look deeper into these numbers, we find that young people carry a disproportionate burden of unemployment. Despite young people aged 15-25 making up about 20% of the working age population, they make up 40% of the unemployed. If you are under 25 years of age, you have a one in eight chance of being out of work.

As Mayors, you are perhaps some of the busiest people in your local communities ... and I recognise that none of you were specifically elected to work on employment issues. But your involvement in this Taskforce is an indication of how strongly your communities feel about the employment challenge, and especially how joblessness is effecting your young people.

Communities are based on livelihood ... and the issues of employment and income are exactly where local governance energies need to be focussed. Your participation and determination in this Taskforce means that these issues will continue to be placed at the top of our local agenda.


One of the paradoxes of the global economy is that it puts a greater importance on developing local capabilities. To some extent, effective sovereignty in a global economy is shifting from the national level to the local level. Our central government in Wellington can point in the right direction, and set frameworks and policies ... but it is increasingly unable to get the details right in our communities.

This is certainly the case when trying to stimulate employment and economic development at a local level. Getting the details right means activating a whole new layer of leadership at the local level.

The Mayor can be an important player in activating such leadership. You are the only tier of local governance which is elected right across your districts. This gives you a deep mandate to act.

The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs is based on this mandate. This is the first time in New Zealand’s history that so many Mayors have come together to act on a major social issue. Nearly half the Mayors throughout New Zealand have now signed up, and since the Local Body elections many more are planning to join.

The Taskforce is a simple strategy. First of all, it gives you a place to sit and think with your peers about the “big picture” on employment and livelihood in your communities. It then asks you to take strong, visible leadership on these issues and to champion local initiatives. Perhaps your involvement in this Taskforce might lead you to “banging a few heads together” — using your unique position to encourage local community groups, government departments and your own councils to collaborate more effectively on these issues.

Your involvement may also spark a deeper conversation about the changing future and nature of work, and what we all need to do about it right now.

This changing world of work is being most strongly felt by the next generation. We know that one of the most common reasons young people leave their home town is to find a job. If your communities want a future, then these young people need to know that a good livelihood is possible where they live. They need to know that their community leaders are actively supporting and encouraging new ideas, business opportunities, and new approaches to “work” that can attract and involve young people.

Next: A Cultural Vision


This paper is dedicated to Betty Wark 1924-2001, kuia, mentor and friend.

  • This paper is based on a keynote speech given by vivian Hutchinson to the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs annual meeting in Christchurch 15 February 2002.
    The views expressed are those of the writer and not of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs.
    The paper is also available on the internet at, and can be downloaded (24 pages, 178 kb) from
  • vivian Hutchinson has been one of the pioneers in community-based action for jobs in New Zealand, especially in establishing programmes for the support and education of unemployed people. He was a founder of the Taranaki Work Trust, and its associated projects in the Starting Point Employment Resource Centre, Skills of Enterprise Business Courses, and the Enterprise Centre. He has also been involved in establishing many practical training programmes for unemployed people, and the Green Dollar local employment trading networks.
    As an adviser, vivian Hutchinson has helped with the establishment of enterprise and economic development units at a local government level, the creation of the Labour Department’s Community Employment Group and Be Your Own Boss programmes, and has been an adviser to Local Employment Co-ordination (LEC) groups.
  • The Jobs Research Trust was established in 1994 “… to develop and distribute information that will help our communities create more jobs and reduce unemployment and poverty in New Zealand”. Trustees include vivian Hutchinson, Jo Howard, Dave Owens and Rodger Smith. Secretary is Shirley Vickery. Contact: P.O.Box 428, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand phone 06-753-4434, fax 06-753-4430, email,
  • Special thanks to the 2002 core group of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs: Garry Moore (Christchurch), Sukhi Turner (Dunedin), Jenny Brash (Porirua), Tim Shadbolt (Invercargill), Graeme Ramsey (Kaipara), Basil Morrison (Hauraki), Frana Cardno (Southland), Pat O’Dea (Buller), Yvonne Sharp (Far North), Maureen Reynolds (Tararua), Bob Harvey (Waitakere) and Executive Officer Jan Francis.
    The website for the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs is at
  • The concept of “zero waste” in New Zealand owes a special debt to Warren Snow and Stephen Tindall. See the special issues of The Jobs Letter on “Jobs from Waste” at, and “Sustainable New Zealand” at
  • The full “Memorandum of Understanding” between the Government of New Zealand and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, launched 12 September 2000 at The Beehive, is available at
  • Employment figures quoted are taken from the December 2001 Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) by Statistics New Zealand. For more information see and also the Statistics That Matter summary at
    Notes: 1) The percentage of young people compared to the overall numbers of unemployed is calculated on the official unemployment figures. 2) The official unemployment rate for under 25 year olds (at December 2001) was 12.05% or one in eight young people. 3) The numbers of young people under 25 out of work and wanting a job are an estimate based on the HLFS jobless figures.
  • Next: A Cultural Vision

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    vivian Hutchinson

    Other speeches by
    vivian Hutchinson,
    relating to the work
    of the Mayors
    Taskforce for Jobs,
    are also available.

    These include:

    It is the Local
    That Learns

    — some thoughts on
    community governance

    Making Hope Possible
    — some thoughts on
    the Mayors Taskforce
    for Jobs

    A Capable Age
    — some thoughts on
    the "zero waste"
    of young people

    The Spirit of Youth
    — some thoughts on
    and inclusion

    An Economy
    of Connection

    — some thoughts after
    a Knowledge

    A Capable Age — some thoughts on the “zero waste” of young people
    vivian Hutchinson — The Jobs Research Trust — February 2002