The art of advocacy

Many of the PBA activities are obvious; providing WIFI in the town centre and the Zone, hosting network events and Business Awards, publishing the Loop, Where to Eat Guide and Shop Local Voucher Booklet. These are all plainly visible and publicised widely.

We have other initiatives that are not as widely known such as the business subsidies. Despite promoting them often, they are never over-subscribed.

Arguably the most important activity of the PBA is seldom seen in public – the mysterious art of advocacy. So what is advocacy and why is it so important?

In a former life, I had 10 years at an NGO and charity. We found we could spend lots of time and resources treating symptoms, or we could play a longer more subtle game and cause changes. This is all done by advocacy. Here is a story to illustrate.

Imagine you are having a picnic by a river and you see someone struggling, washed down the stream. You get some mates together, form a chain, find some rope and work together to pull them out. Someone does first aid, someone gets on the phone and you help them. Then to your horror, you see another and another and whole groups and families all struggling down the river and so you do it all again. You can spend so much time working there on the riverbank, you can turn it into a profession.

Hopefully, sooner rather than later, you realise change only happens when you walk upstream to see why all these people are in the water. Is there a broken bridge or barrier? What is the cause?

“Advocacy does not promise instant results but over time, it can move mountains”


Advocacy is about addressing the drivers and larger issues. It often involves speaking truth to power. When the PBA provides feedback to Auckland Council, NZ Transport, Panuku, Police or the Local Board, we are advocating on behalf of our local businesses. For those who do not have the time or resource or connections to do this themselves.

Your feedback is helpful and required to make our advocacy more effective. Recently we met with Panuku to address concerns around the Innovating Streets trial. When we can say 83% of survey respondents want the street returned to two-way traffic, this is useful data and carries more weight than opinions.

Please continue to respond with feedback and keep engaged.

Rupert Ross, PBA President