Reporting back

Lifting engagement

Date: 23 November 2020
Reporting Frequency: Annually
Category: Regional and Strategic Leadership


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


From 73% of those surveyed, 15% feel that they fully understand Environment Canterbury's role, 29% know a little but would like to know more, and 29% know a little and don't need to know more

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 and 2020.

We undertook this research with 540 community residents in 2018, 515 in 2019, and 519 in 2020 to gauge the level of understanding of Environment Canterbury and the work it does.

Survey topics included:

  • Awareness of Environment Canterbury, what it does and what services it provides.
  • Awareness of the different roles of Environment Canterbury vs city/district councils.
  • The overall sense of Environment Canterbury's performance, as well as suggestions for improvement.
  • Awareness of the ability to have a say in Council matters, any such historical involvement in this regard, and the willingness to do so. 
  • Communication and engagement – how informed the public feel regarding Council activity and how they hear about it.

The 2020 third round of research found that 30% believed Environment Canterbury’s performance was very good or excellent, compared to 21% in 2018.

Participants were more positive about how well Environment Canterbury manages air quality (40% saying very good or excellent) compared to 36% in 2018. Participants were less positive about Canterbury's freshwater management, with 27% saying very good or excellent (up from 19% in 2018).

Environment Canterbury’s work in both air quality and water quality is ongoing. It is promising to see an 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 improvement in air quality.

For the first time in 2020, questions were asked on the degree to which residents believe they can participate in Council matters. 45% were aware that they could have a say, with 33% of those having done so in the past.

Please note, a new option was added in 2019, so baseline data for 2018 is not included here as it is not directly comparable. Base: all, 2020 n=519; 2019 n=515; 2018 n=540.

From the 48% of residents in the table who would like to know more, these included the following areas:

  • Everything (69%) – comprehensive detail of what they do: governance, decision making, etc, in layman’s terms – more transparency (64% in 2018).
  • Financial transparency (7%) – who funds it, where the funds go (9% in 2018).
  • Freshwater management (7%) – more info about safety, farming run-off (5% in 2018).
  • Contact information (7%) – by department, be accessible/information about elected members (3% in 2018).

Why does it matter?

We want to ensure that residents are engaged and enabled to play an active part in shaping Canterbury’s future. We measure this through the level of community understanding of the work of Environment Canterbury and regional issues.

What's being done?

The results help us when developing targeted communications content in matters requiring public consultation. They also help us with ongoing work to improve community understanding and engagement more broadly, including around the strategic priorities for the region and the opportunities for public participation.

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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