Participatory Appraisal (PA) Community Visioning

Public meetings and other traditional consultation methods often don't meet client and community needs. Participatory Appraisal (PA) refers to a set of principles and tools that:

  • Enable community members to think strategically about the future development of their area (as well as addressing immediate issues which will inevitably arise).
  • Facilitate an enjoyable, engaging process that focuses on community issues, ensuring participants do not feel 'disempowered' by the consultation.
  • Provide outputs that can be used to develop practical options and responses (eg, in relation to district planning, infrastructure/asset management and urban design).

PA is increasingly used in New Zealand and overseas to provide an insight into community preferences through an engaging process. The approach involves:

  • Keeping things visual.
  • Enabling participants to share their ideas in their own way.
  • Providing an opportunity to prioritise and reach consensus about high-level outcomes.

Specific tools include:

  • Township maps and background information.
  • Small group work including community mapping, post-it notes and prioritisation counters.
  • Semi-structured interviews on key issues arising.
  • Management of expectations regarding how the information will be used.

Examples of Participatory Appraisal in action include the following (note these involved Paul Killerby, APR's Strategic Planning Manager):

Whangamata community planning (1999-2000):

Ngongotaha community planning project 2000:

Rotorua District Council 'computers in the community' workshop 2003 ('planning game' format):

An indicative fee for a three day training workshop is $4,000 + GST.

For further information on Participatory Appraisal, please visit: