Marching into Autumn at ESRA

As the new year gets into full swing there’s a lot happening here, even if not a great deal is publicly visible yet. Here’s an update on our research program, upcoming conferences, other activities in the works, and what’s been happening behind the scenes. more

10 March 2017

Warm greetings to all, whether you’re a member or supporter of ESRA or an interested bystander. As the new year gets into full swing there’s a lot happening here, even if not a great deal is publicly visible yet. It’s a bit like a duck on the pond – you see it quietly swimming along not doing much, but under the surface there’s a fair amount of determined paddling going on.


There are currently around 20 ESRA research projects at different stages of development. These are in areas including agriculture, new forms of political organisation, housing, economic planning, migrant workers, welfare, employment, nonvoting and a first “peoples’ history” project. Each is quite different in size, scope and intended completion date, and several major initiatives are in the phase of waiting for funder approval (or otherwise). Our goal is to have at least three of our current projects at publication stage within the next two months.

All our research work is carried out on a voluntary basis at present which means that each project is wholly dependent on the time, energy and passion of those involved. As more capacity becomes available at the core of ESRA we will be able to reach out and involve more of you in these and other projects. Do feel free to contact us in the meanwhile with your questions, ideas and offers, even if we can’t always pick these up.


ESRA is playing a major role in hosting two conferences this year and we welcome your interest in both.

For three full days 6—8 September we are co-hosting the fourth annual Social Movements, Resistance and Social Change conference with Massey University at its Albany campus in Auckland. The title of this year’s conference is Ka whawhai tonu matou: Beyond capitalism – beyond colonisation. More information and a first call for papers can be found here, and the Facebook event here.

From 1—3 December ESRA will be hosting a conference, The Return of Economic Planning, in Auckland. The three day international conference will bring together scholars and activists to deepen strategic thinking and articulate a vision for radical economic and social transformation. The purpose of the conference will be to put economic planning back on the agenda, to build connections and develop collective projects, and to assemble possible further directions for research and political interventions in economic planning. More information, including international keynotes, to come over the coming months.

Other activities

Other activities we’re starting to develop for 2017 include:

  • A regular two-weekly reading group in Auckland, organised by the ESRA political organisation inquiry group, focused – unsurprisingly – on questions of political organisation. If you are interested in participating in the reading group please email
  • A Winter Series of gatherings with speakers, debates, provocations and discussions held in a congenial environment with conversation, food and drink to hand. We welcome your suggestions about a possible friendly venue for this in Auckland.
  • We’re also keen on organising events in other parts of the country but need your help with this. If you would like to work with us to put together an ESRA activity in your area, do get in touch. However, while we’re keen to engage with people outside our home district, it’s also the case that current budgetary restrictions mean we have little capacity to fund this out of existing resources. 

Can you help?

ESRA has been set up with a minimal amount of financial support. Apart from one modest research contract all our funding so far has come from individuals and (in a small way) from a few progressive organisations who back our kaupapa.

We thank each and every one of you who has made a donation or contributes a regular AP (automatic payment) to support our work. Without you, ESRA would not exist.

It is critical that we build our donation and AP base this year. We took on a three-year lease at the end of 2016 as we had outgrown our small space at the back of Auckland Action Against Poverty’s office and it was imperative that we find room to expand and develop. This has meant that we have had to cut back to one 10 hour a week worker and we also have increased utilities and other office costs. We urgently need to increase our income.

APs are the most useful way you can assist, although of course one off donations are always welcome. If you or someone you know is able to contribute a weekly AP of $5 or $10 a week or more, that is the best way you can help us right now. Our bank account is: ESRA 38 9016 0380440 00 – or you can donate via credit card or Paypal here. Thank you! 

News from the office

We are enjoying making the most of our new space despite the accompanying financial consequences. The highlight in February was the presentation to ESRA of a beautiful handmade banner by artist and Elam lecturer Fiona Jack. The banner is a true work of art and has pride of place in welcoming visitors to our new HQ. Thank you Fiona, you’re a banner maker extraordinaire.

Visit from the Ngara Institute

In another recent development we had the pleasure of hosting a small meeting of ESRA folk with Kristen Lyons from the Ngara Institute in NSW, Australia. This was our first direct contact with a representative of an overseas left think tank since we launched, and we hope the connection made will be the first of many. We exchanged information about our work and plans for the future, and we look forward to developing a friendly working relationship with Ngara in times ahead. At this point it is only fair to acknowledge that our planned ‘Winter Series’ was stimulated by Kristen’s description of the regular ‘Politics in the Pub’ events organised by Ngara in its local community. 

Oral history training

ESRA would like to offer a huge ‘thanks!’ to Sue Berman and Auckland Library for providing a full day oral history training workshop to ESRA researchers in February. Those attending learned a great deal and we are looking forward to putting our newfound skills into practice later this year, as our first ‘peoples’ history’ project gets underway.

In conclusion

Thanks to all of you who continue to support ESRA and our slow but steady evolution into a fully fledged think tank. If you have friends, family or colleagues who might be interested in being part of our network, please don’t hesitate to put us in touch with each other. Would you like to receive updates by email? Just sign up!

Wishing you all the best for the year ahead,

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou,

Sue, Jonathan & all ESRA whanau