What’s Our Mission?
And Who Are We…


As a community, we can create our future.

It is easy to get caught up in the problems of today without considering where we want to be in the future. By collaboratively working towards a common vision, we can proactively decide what success looks like and how to get there. Our community is only as strong as its voice, we provide an opportunity to shape our district for future generations – our children, grandchildren and beyond.


Local people, local solutions

  • A no agenda approach that supports our community to shape the future they aspire to
  • To make it easier to get involved with community visioning
  • Resident-driven, non-political ability to influence how our community develops and adapts, while protecting our region’s charter and flavour
  • To be a catalyst for the change the community wants
  • Capturing voices & verbalising aspirations

Facilitate open conversations and collaborations

  • To connect & bring communities together
  • Empowerment
  • Co-creation
  • Allow people to share skills and knowledge
  • Help us understand issues affecting our future
  • Work through issues
  • To show a framework

Independent & neutral – an amplifier of the community’s voice & vision

  • To be a conduit between council and the people
  • Not bound by council or bureaucracy
  • Independent voice
  • Enable communities to influence decisions
  • Advocate for our community
  • To support decentralised autonomous organisations


We don’t place limits on free thinking – no financial, political or district planning limitations.

We don’t do the work for communities. We do ignite and help.

We don’t implement taskforce reports or take action ourselves.

We don’t sift out input without review with the community.

We don’t do funding.

We don’t take a political stance.

We don’t pursue our own personal agendas.

We don’t overpromise.

We don’t overcommit.


The following describes the ways in which we bring value:

  1. Enabling and empowering community self-determination is the most valuable thing we can do for our communities. The by-line “describe your vision, determine your future” is an incredibly positive aspirational statement. In an age where many feel overwhelmed, bringing a focus back to the things we can control, consider and affect is incredibly healing.
  2. The independence of Sof is greatly valued by the communities that we work with. Engagement is more open and constructive if there are no perceived pre-determined outcomes.
  3. Because SoF is constantly engaging with our local community, it is sensitive and alert to emerging issues that impact community wellbeing. The Lightfoot Initiative explains “Shaping Our Future has a full view over what is happening in the district. Increasingly, they’re acting to create a cohesive vision by connecting with other organisations.”
  4. The visioning process helps unite divided communities and can repair relationships between the community and other stakeholders because it turns entrenched positions of opposition towards a focus of positively improving outcomes. As a third party working between the Hawea Community and QLDC we can promote constructive dialogue.
  5. Because the output from our processes is led by the community and is for the community, it has longevity and continued relevance – unlike other plans that are produced and forgotten about. Actions such as the 2022 building of the Glenorchy Community native Plant Nursery only happened because of the 2015 visioning process.
  6. Because SoF has a funded exec support role it can help communities achieve things that they didn’t have the ability to achieve alone. We act as a catalyst. We helped the Arrowtown community to draw up their respected community plan and are now providing the resource for them to update it 5 years on.
  7. Because SoF has completed a wide range of workstreams in the past, it is exceptionally well placed to identify commonalities, pose the right questions, and share learnings.
  8. The skillset and life experience of the volunteer SoF Board Members enable the organisation to produce well-informed, robust, and credible submissions to decision-makers on behalf of the community.
  9. The work we undertake will often add to and support (not duplicate) the workstreams of others as we look to collaborate with stakeholders. The workshops we held on Community Wellbeing have allowed us to provide constructive input into and collaborate with QLDC community capability and connecting communities’ workstreams.
  10. Shaping our Future is a lean organisation where every $ received is magnified in value by the contribution of our volunteer board and others in the community that we work with and as a small organisation we can be nimble and rapidly respond to issues in a way that large organisations can’t.

About Us


We are a group of volunteers who promote and facilitate open discussion and debate to better inform decision making across the Queenstown Lakes District.

Vanessa van Uden, Chair

I was voted in as Mayor in 2010 after serving as a Councillor on QLDC.  During my first term, I led the team that developed Shaping our Future, recognising the value of an independent group to liaise with the community and underrepresented.

Barry Bruce, Deputy Chair, Wanaka Community Board Chair

Having lived in Wanaka for nearly 25 years, I am very conscious of the need to future focus and plan ahead, not react to problems after they occur.

John Glover, Kinloch Wilderness Retreat, Glenorchy

Along with my inspirational wife Toni, I’ve run the historic Kinloch Lodge near Glenorchy for the last 20 years while raising three children.

Julie Perry, Treasurer

I joined Shaping our Future in 2017, spurred by an interest in the opportunities and challenges facing our region and the community.

Rachel Rose
Rachel Rose

With a degree in Local Government Politics, I’m a strong believer in the power of the grass roots voice.

Jon Mitchell

I enjoy working with the diverse group of locals on this board towards achieving a sustainable future for our communities, environment, and economy.

Mike Rewi
Mike Rewi

Mike manages Mana Tahuna.

Gavin Flynn

Susan Davis

Ebony Webster

Shaping Our Future’s Guiding Principles

Encouraging exceptional solutions to current and future issues
Providing support for enterprising people and ensuring our spectacular environments are protected and enhanced for future generations
Monitoring the outcomes and encouraging other parties to proactively bring about the vision
Working collaboratively with others

Why Do We Do It?

We aim to reach out to as many people in the district as possible so we can present a common vision based on diverse discussions.