This article discusses the experiences of community volunteers' participation in a community-based participatory research project in Ta maki, a low socio-economic and ethnically diverse suburban community within greater Auckland City, New Zealand. In the Ta maki Community Action Research project, community volunteers were recruited and trained to conduct random household surveys (RHS) and asset mapping commissioned by community groups and government agencies in that area. The volunteers were involved in planning, coordination and ongoing governance of the project and ∼70 residents and local university students participated at different stages of the 2-year project. Over 600 RHS were completed and the volunteers' experiences were recorded in field notes, informal group discussions, daily team meetings and individual interviews and form the basis of this article. Only their experiences are discussed here, not the survey results which will be presented elsewhere. The project reflected the inherent asset-rich nature of the community via examples of individual volunteer empowerment and collective social/community capacity building. Volunteers increased their interpersonal and organizational skills, their understanding of the complexity of their community's logistics and cultural diversity, and gained an increased sense of community purpose and commitment. There was very strong endorsement of culturally sensitive research practice to recognize cultural differences and to engage productively within their richly ethnically diverse community. Full community volunteer participation in the project's governance (i.e. through design, training, implementation and ongoing consultation/management phases) was considered key to sustaining the life of project.
- community development survey
- community volunteers
- New Zealand
- participatory action research
- Tamaki community