This paper is a case study of an attempt, using community development methods, by local members of a state-local partnership to gain more governance control in the face of central government dominance. The process highlighted in this case study was a community visioning exercise that built on existing networks at a local level to develop the higher degree of active community involvement required to achieve more autonomy to meet felt community needs throughout the local district. The resources activated through the community development process enabled the partnership to successfully challenge central government dominance and develop local initiatives. It also raised issues around the autonomous development of mana whenua (the indigenous people of that place) initiatives and those of outlying rural communities. The overall conclusion is one that supports a strategic approach to local empowerment through the community development processes of enhancing local interactive multi-stakeholder networks and using leverage to negotiate change, in this case, by exploiting seemingly endemic structural weaknesses of the central government. © 2006 Oxford University Press.
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