Regenerative Communities Pilot - Ecology and Research Advisor

  • Dr Colin Meurk 

Regenerative Communities Pilot - Mana Whenua

  • Te Hapu o Ngati Wheke, Rapaki

Rubbish Talk - Waste Experts

Communications Expert

  • ​Esther Pocock

Michelle is a changemaker having worked with communities for her 20+ career in Aotearoa and the UK and creating award winning innovative initiatives in both places. She is the creator of The Wellbeing Game, River of Flowers, Places of Tranquillity, The Good Shop and more. Michelle is adept at living in the innovation and uncertainty space initiating, developing and managing successful community partnership and social impact initiatives. She also has a huge network across different sectors, locally and Internationally. With her diverse yet systemic interests, Michelle has a BSc. in Ecology and Psychology and a postgraduate Diploma in Public Health. Michelle is passionate about the environment, community wellbeing and will do her damnedest to make a difference. 

​Flourish Advisory Group member and our Research Project Advisor, Dr Colin Meurk is an Assoc. Professor at Lincoln and Canterbury Universities and Research Associate at Landcare Research.

As an Ecological Scientist Colin has been highly involved in grass roots environmental action, research & teaching of urban ecology & nature conservation over 40 years. Colin does a huge amount of voluntary work, just some of it mentioned here:

•Founding member & President - Travis Wetland Trust
•Honorary Botanist of Canterbury Horticultural Society
•Leader - award-winning CHCH Perimeter Walkway now 360 Trail
•Advisor to Greening Waipara Project (ecosystem services into cultural landscapes)
•Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy Steering Group
•Chair Christchurch Biodiversity Partnership
•Chair of NZBRN, operating (largest citizen bioscience platform in NZ) 

​• Behind iNaturalist app NZ – Mātaki Taiao

Ian Burn

Sharon MNZM, is an advocate and cheerleader for the non-profit sector. Immersed in the sector for over 20 years, she has an intimate understanding of the unique contribution that the sector makes to community wellbeing. After the Canterbury earthquakes she was deeply involved in supporting the sector in its own recovery and in its vital work contributing to community recovery. This experience has led to Sharon developing extensive knowledge about how the non-profit sector can contribute to helping communities prepare for and respond to emergencies and social disruption. She has wide networks and has presented to national and international audiences. Sharon has a BA. (Hons) and is a member of the Representative User Group of the Deep South Science Challenge, where she promotes community engagement on climate change issues through working with the non-profit sector.

Our Values

Sharon Torstonson

Assoc. Director

Our Team

Project Advisors

The greatest challenge of our times is to create and nurture regenerative communities.  We believe that to do this successfully we must move from a fragmented approach to working with a worldview of whole systems.  Everything affects everything else and the ‘how’ we do things is as important as the ‘what’.  Our values and the way in which we work reflect this belief. 

Whanaungatanga:             All people are part of our human family.  In all that we do, we offer unconditional acceptance,    support and friendship.  We foster a culture of inclusion, openness, trust and peace. 

He tangata:                       All people are treasured / taonga and have gifts to offer.  We work to enable people to find                fulfilment by contributing from their strengths and passions. 

Kotahitanga:                     Unity and connection.  We all have different knowledge, interests, wisdom, and cultural    backgrounds.  We encourage healthy respectful debate and differences of opinion in order to learn from each other and find shared understandings. 

Māhaki:                              We are not the ‘experts’.  We recognise our vulnerabilities and accept our imperfections and limitations, while holding ourselves accountable.  We embrace what others have to contribute. 

Te Ao:                                 We recognise the interconnectedness between humans and our natural environment.  All our actions seek to minimise harm to and restore the wellbeing of our mother Papatuanuku. 

Manatika:                          We stand for social justice and work to make our social systems fair and equitable.

How we do things

Flourish Kia Puāwai sits in the emergent and innovative space to try new ways of doing and sharing our learning.

Our Theory of Change is focussed on empowering people to live regeneratively through community, exploration, experimentation and demonstration with potential to scale viable enterprises.
~ We work across boundaries, silos and sectors to collaborate and leverage systemic change.
~ We are living the experiment ourselves through our values-based charitable social impact business model.
~ We embed indigenous and scientific knowledge for positive social change through partnership, evidence-based practice and applying relevant cross-sector models and strategies.

Flourish Kia Pūawai Social Enterprise Ltd © Aug 2020

Michelle Whitaker


​With our commitment to social impact and charitable purposes we are taking our time to get the right people to help and advise us on our journey and the many streams of initiatives. 

Mark has always felt like a fringe dweller and says that life is more interesting from this perspective. In more recent years he’s called it “the creative edge” and sees this as the place where transformational change happens. Vocationally this has led him into many adventures in community and what he calls the spiritual dimension. The three strongest strands have been community development, social and political change, networking, and ministry. He was national coordinator of Taura Here I Te Rongomau – the Christian Peace Network during the campaign to declare Aotearoa NZ nuclear-free. During his years in ministry he was immersed in local communities, worked with marginalized youth and started a wide range of progressive initiatives with a strong ecological focus – including Walk for the Planet, the River of Life project, the Avon Otakaro Network, Two Lakes Healing and Deep Water – Centre for Justice, Peace and Ecology. He has travelled extensively overseas to workshops, courses and conferences. A published poet, and has two degrees in Arts/Sociology and Aotearoa History; and theology.

Te Kahui - Flourish Advisors

Associations, Signatories, Memberships

​​Flourish is passionate about amplifying positive impact, whether that's ours or yours. So we strongly believe in effective collaboration, networking and reciprocal support. 

​Flourish is a signatory of

  1. Waka Toa Ora - Greater Healthy Christchurch
  2. Chapter Zero New Zealand 
  3. ​​Aotearoa SDG Declaration and Alliance

Sharon Torstonson represents Flourish on the Deep South Science Challenge Representative Group and Australasian Disaster Recovery Collaboration.

Ian is an experienced manager, administrator and fundraiser, having lead a social service organisation with 27 staff and 10+ service areas for 10 years. He is particularly skilled in financial management, budgeting, fundraising, strategic planning, project management and empowering people to be their best selves.

Mark Gibson


Dr Colin D Meurk OMNZ PhD

A Flourishing Enterprise

Flourish is a small charity with big impact committed to creating better lives for everyone. We have many threads and ideas! 

The greatest challenge of our times is to create and nurture regenerative communities.  With the IPCC stating we have less than ten years now to prevent global warming exceeding a projected 1.5 degree average increase, there is a great urgency to not only understand systems thinking, strong sustainability and regenerative cultures but how to successfully  co-create a new way of living for dealing with our global ecological crisis and ensure the continuation and flourishing of all life on earth.
Flourish sits in the emergent and innovative space to try new ways of doing. The How is as important as the What. Through our discrete initiatives we will do our bit to add to the understanding, share our learning, create and scale out positive change and shift towards a more regenerative, environmentally friendly and well society.

​See our Values below

If you want to get involved please contact - 

​Founder/Co-Director: Michelle Whitaker


or click on the button: