Creative Working

Who we are

In 2015 an international community development conference was held in Auckland. The conference was a huge success and had sold out a month before it opened.

Our inaugural conference chair, John Stansfield, asked participants in the plenary session whether we were ready to rebuild the organisational infrastructure of community development in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The response was a resounding yes, and a small group were mandated to progress the project. In 2016, ACDA (the Aotearoa Community Development Association) was incorporated as a charitable trust and an application made for charitable status.

What We Do

ACDA is engaged in a number of training initiatives to help strengthen and build the capacity of the community development sector. In April 2020 we will hold a conference in association with IACD, the International Association of Community Development.


ACDA has a journal "Whanake, The Pacific Journal of Community Development". The Journal is published by Unitec's EXPRESS and is available free to download. The journal contains both quality assured research papers and notes from the field, as well as reviews and notices of interest to the community development sector.

Our Team

Susan Elliott
Board Member
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Susan Elliott has worked in the refugee sector for more than 35 years as a teacher, researcher, consultant, facilitator, mentor, volunteer and ally. She has worked in New Zealand and the UK as a lecturer, and internationally as a consultant for UNHCR. Currently she works most of the time as an independent practitioner at various levels in the New Zealand refugee sector. She has a particular interest in rights based community development and capacity building.

Gavin Rennie
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Gavin Rennie is a Senior lecturer at Unitec Auckland where he has taught for 25 years.

Prior to teaching he worked as a Community Worker in Waitemata City, at the Methodist Central Mission and for eight years as Director of Friendship House Manukau City.

In the 1980’s he was heavily involved in housing issues as Coordinator of The New Zealand Housing Network. He sees teaching Community development as his primary contribution to Community development these days alongside being Editor in Chief of Whanake New Zealand‘s new online Community development Journal.

Gwyn John
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BSocP(Com Dev)Dip Adult Ed

Gwyn has over 2 decades of experience in a variety of community based roles is an educator, facilitator, ally, volunteer, activist and Community Development practitioner. Gwyn has a passion for Social Justice and Community Development, and brings this passion to all her roles. She is particularly interested in Anti-racism and Te Tiriti o Waitangi education work within the päkeha community. She has recently returned to her home town of Ahuriri and has a teaching role at EIT.

John Stansfield
Chair of ACDA
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John Stansfield has a lifetime passion for Community Development. He studied in NZ , USA and Bangladesh and has worked across the Asia Pacific region & in the UK and Caribbean. Currently John chairs the education committee of The International Association for Community Development IACD where he is the board representative for Oceania. He is chair of Aotearoa Community Development Association ACDA and deputy editor of Whanake; The Pacific Journal of Community Development and chair of the International Community Development Conference 2015 & 2017. John is active in his own community of Waiheke Island where he chairs the Waiheke Resources Trust a local Community Development agency and is a keen organic grower and sailor. John is currently Senior Lecturer in Community Development at Unitec in West Auckland.

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