Community Action Nelson (CAN)


Who is CAN?   
Community Action Nelson is a group of older (and yes, wiser) women who have many years of experience in Nelson’s social service not-for-profit sector. 

Determined to see social equity in Aoteroa-NZ, we identify emerging and major social issues in Nelson – and set about getting them fixed, or at least into the public eye. 

CAN has strong links to Victory Community Centre, Nelson Women’s Centre, the community sector’s Community and Whanau network and many other not-for-profit organisations. 

We host an annual CAN forum providing information and professional development for the sector, often through out of town speakers; and in election years probes the candidates on issues relevant to the sector. 

We work closely with Nelson City Council to advance understanding and to encourage action for better social outcomes. 

Nelson comes third!
For some years housing has been our major focus. We know housing is inextricably linked to health and wellbeing. Our concern about housing costs in Nelson was validated by the latest of Massey University’s Housing Affordability Report showing Nelson as the third least affordable city in the country, with Tasman as the second least affordable region. 

CAN produced the report ‘What is a Home? A new definition of housing in Nelson Tasman’ and presented this to Nelson City Council. In it we examined issues around housing that emerged from one of our workshops. We have networked with representatives from the construction industry to identify barriers at council level that are slowing the process of affordable builds. 

CAN has hosted several Conversation Cafes to brainstorm various aspects of housing supply and alternatives to the model of one house/one section/one family. 

We have listened to the community to establish exactly what the needs and possible solutions are and pushed for wider discussion across the Top of the South, and for this region to be included in national research. 

Renting is tough
CAN has 

  • run surveys on renting patterns
  • spoken out in the media about issues for renters
  • asked Council to be part of a rental WOF trial
  • facilitated the establishment of a tenants’ advocacy organisation for Nelson. 

On the Streets 
Emergency housing for women in Nelson continues to be a particular problem, and we’re thrilled to be working with the local Soroptimists on this. 

Covid 19 saw some real gains on taking a coordinated approach to emergency housing, with homeless accommodation at the Brook Camp, in partnership with motels and backpackers, and in caravans at Neale Park. 

Bringing together various government agencies, businesses, and community organisations has created some successful short term solutions.  Let’s keep the momentum to make long term ones now.  

CAN logo


Heritage Storytelling

A heritage storytelling project with Nelson Provincial Museum.

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Cultural Conversations

Cultural Conversations facilitates opportunities for people from former refugee and migrant communities.

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Nelson City Centre ArtWalk

An outdoor art gallery project with The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū.

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Community Action Network (CAN)

A place to showcase and discuss housing options for the inner city. 

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White Gold

Creating a bespoke exhibition space in a shop window.

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