Research Completed

Friday, December 7th, 2018 | EMMA MCGUIRK | No Comments

After travelling the length of Aotearoa New Zealand, participating in numerous timebanking events and activities, co-founding the Dunedin Timebank, and conducting recorded interviews with 20 timebank members and founders, I brought this research project to a close in 2017. I am no longer based at the University of Otago. I published and presented my research results in the following formats.

PhD Thesis

The most detailed account of my results is my PhD thesis, completed in 2017. My thesis is not available online at this time. Send me an email if you would like to receive a copy (

McGuirk, E. (2017). Timebanking in New Zealand: Academic and Activist Discussions of its Challenges and Pleasures (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago.

Journal Articles

McGuirk, E. (2017). ‘Timebanking in New Zealand as a prefigurative strategy within a wider degrowth movement’ Journal of Political Ecology 24:595-609.

McGuirk, E. (2012). ‘Studying Time Banking: Exploring Participatory Action Research in Aotearoa New Zealand’ Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies 9(2):142-171.

Conference Presentations

2018 ‘Perspectives from Timebanking in Aotearoa’, Global Mutual Credit: Is it time for a Co-op coin?, at OPEN 2018: Platform Cooperatives, Conway Hall, London, UK.

2015 ‘Creating New Currencies for Degrowth and Relocalisation in Aotearoa New Zealand’, Culture, Power, Degrowth, American Anthropological Association, 114th Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, USA.

2014 ‘Debt and Morality within an Alternative Currency System in Aotearoa New Zealand’, Emerging Markets: From Pillow Gold to Time Banks, American Anthropological Association, 113th Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., USA.

2014 ‘Timebanking in New Zealand: Using an alternative currency to construct and play with experimental social moorings’ Moorings: Towards an Anthropology of Transient Sociality and Relationality, Cosmopolitan Anthropologies: Combined Meeting of the Association of Social Anthropologists Aotearoa New Zealand and the Australian Anthropological Society, Queenstown, New Zealand.

2012 ‘Imagining Anthropology’s Potential for Community Engagement’ Re-imagining Ethnographic Fieldwork, Annual Meeting of the Association of Social Anthropologists Aotearoa New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Public Presentations

2017 ‘PhD Research Results, and Ideas for the Future’ Dunedin Timebank public meeting, 25 November, Dunedin, New Zealand.

2016 ‘History and Development of the Dunedin Timebank, 2011-2014’ Dunedin Timebank public meeting, Dunedin, New Zealand.

2016 ‘Timebanking, Degrowth, and Uncertain Futures’ University of the Third Age, Anthropology and Archaeology Series 2016, Invercargill, New Zealand.

2013 ‘Dunedin Timebank: Off the ground and flying high!’ GreenDrinks Dunedin, New Zealand.

2013 ‘Progress Update from the Dunedin Timebank: Recent trades and new membership process’ Transition Valley 473 Sustainability Potluck Lunch, North East Valley, Dunedin, New Zealand.

2012 ‘Emerging Results: an update from interviews and PhD research’. Presented results to research participants for feedback and discussion. Timebank Aotearoa New Zealand Annual Meeting, Raglan, New Zealand.

2012 ‘Setting up a Timebank from Scratch’ Video presentation recorded in Dunedin, and later screened at the 11th Australasian Permaculture Convergence, Turangi, New Zealand.

2012 ‘Dunedin Timebank: Getting Established’ Co-presented with fellow member of the Dunedin Timebank Committee. GreenDrinks Dunedin, New Zealand.

2011 ‘Introduction to Timebanking and Local Currencies’, public seminar and workshop, Occupy the Octagon, Dunedin, New Zealand.

2011 ‘Local Solutions’ presented at ‘Fronting Up to Our Deteriorating World’, public meeting organised by Sustainable Dunedin City and the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

2011 ‘Time Banking: How it works and how to get involved’, Malcam Trust community workshop, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Dunedin Timebank featured in the Otago Daily Times!

Monday, April 29th, 2013 | EMMA MCGUIRK | 1 Comment

Kia ora (hello),

Well, it’s been a very long time since I have updated this blog, but I have some news to add and I guess it’s never too late to start updating this blog again, albeit on an irregular basis.

Although all of my research interviews have been conducted in the North Island, I have had the opportunity for on-going participant observation in the world of time banking through my role as co-founder of the Dunedin Timebank. This has been a fascinating source of experiences and insight into how a timebank works (or at least, how one timebank in one particular location works). And although my experience is specific to this one community, all of my time spent on the committee has helped me to better understand the joys and frustrations expressed by the people that I have interviewed in the North Island timebanks.

We recently hit a major milestone in our development, as we have hired a part-time (14 hours per week) Project Coordinator. This position has been filled by the very capable Liz Carroll Lowe, who brings many years of relevant experience and a whole range of fantastic skills to share with the Dunedin Timebank! We feel very lucky that she has chosen to work with us. You can read more about this great step in the development of the Dunedin Timebank in this article recently published by our local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times:

Timebanking for ‘better community’

In the picture alongside the newspaper article, you can see Liz our new coordinator in the foreground, and myself (Emma McGuirk) and Ralph Lawrence in the background discussing the next steps for fixing the bike.

Edgar Cahn Resources – online and in print

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 | EMMA MCGUIRK | 2 Comments

I often find myself talking to people about where to find good resources to inform the development of new TimeBanks, and in some cases I print, photocopy and hand out any resources that I think are particularly useful. In New Zealand we are currently seeing an explosion of new interest in Time Banking, with many new groups forming who are keen to set up TimeBanks in their area. The TBANZ site currently has the most up to date list of TimeBanks in New Zealand (20 at last count!). So the aim of this post is to compile and summarise the available resources created by Edgar Cahn, whose writing is the best place to start for people looking to find inspiration and guidance in setting up a TimeBank.

Cahn’s must-read book is No More Throw-Away People, the Co-Production Imperative, it is known as the “Time Banking Bible” here in New Zealand. It is definitely worth purchasing at least one copy to share amongst members of a group establishing a TimeBank. In Lyttelton, members of the TimeBank earned Time Credits for reading No More Throw Away People. They earned further credits for participating in discussion sessions where they shared what they had enjoyed and been inspired by in the book, and their ideas for how to apply Cahn’s theories and advice to their local TimeBank. I hear that these sessions were very successful. Juliet Adams, a member of the Lyttelton Timebank, has also earned Time Credits for writing a summary of No More Throw-Away People.

In 2001, three years before No More Throw Away People was published, Cahn wrote a  clear explanation of the similarities and differences between LETS Systems and TimeBanks, and the desire in both to create more inclusive forms of community. This short and useful article (that I also referred to in an earlier post) was published in the International Journal of Community Currency Research.

In 2010 Edgar Cahn and Chris Gray, CEO of TimeBanks USA, were interviewed by Mark Herpel for Community Currency (CC) magazine. The theme of this issue of the magazine is ‘Time’, and the magazine as a whole is well worth a read, and free to download (see page 20 for the interview). This interview is a great follow-up to No More Throw Away People, and Mark Herpel has also published the text of the interview here. I printed and handed out copies of this interview at the Time Banking Hui in Lyttelton last year.

If you search through YouTube, you will find a wide range of interviews and presentations delivered by Edgar Cahn, but here are two of my favourites: Cahn speaking at a TEDx event, and at Occupy Wall St.


Thoughts on Committees …

Monday, February 13th, 2012 | EMMA MCGUIRK | 1 Comment

The Time Banking literature that I have read so far written either by academics or Time Banking practitioners doesn’t go into much detail about the formation of the Committees who support the TimeBank Co-ordinators (members of the TimeBank who work voluntarily or for Time Credits to help run the TimeBank). I haven’t found much writing yet on how they operate over time, or how work is delegated, how much of the work is paid for in Time Credits, and how to avoid burnout (although there must be other literature available on this topic – as the potential for burnout amongst people working in volunary organisations is well-known). A productive committee or support team seems to be key in getting the infrastructure of a TimeBank established. This infrastructure includes Community Weaver 2.0 – the online database of offers and requests, a paid co-ordinator, a venue, in some cases registration as a charity or incorporated society, and regular social events. Over the past year I have collected the following suggestions from TimeBank co-ordinators and other community organisers about how to set up and maintain a well-functioning Committee:

– Discuss alternative names for the role of committee member: Social Architects, Social Entrepreunures, TimeBank Creators, TimeBank Champions …
– Invite potential committee members to suggest a period of time that they are happy to commit to: three months, six months, a year, or until X goal is achieved by the TimeBank (this may help to reassure people that you are not asking for a lifetime of continuing voluntary commitment to the TimeBank).
– Of course members have the option to renew or extend their term, and this could be a good time for them to talk about whether they are getting what they hoped to get out of the experience, and if they have experienced feeling overworked at any stage.
– Ask members to commit to replacing themselves before they leave their position on the committe, finding a friend or contact who is willing to take on their role(s), and bringing them along to a meeting or two before the changeover.
– Invite members to write down at the start of their term a few of their reasons for joining the committee, what they hope to get out of it, why they are passionate about the TimeBank, what their reasons are for supporting it (personal and community reasons).
– Pay Committee members in Time Credits for their work, and encourage them to spend their credits. People on the Committee need to take an active part in trading, at a rate that is manageable and helpful for them (finding things to spend their time credits on that give some time back to them, encourage all TimeBank members to look for ways to be less busy and less stressed through their participation in the TimeBank – for example, asking someone else to cook you dinner). This can be challenging at the start when the TimeBank is in the early stages and the skills and people available are limited. Committee members can donate as many credits as they wish to the Community Chest if they are finding it hard to spend them in the early stages of the TimeBank. These credits can then be gifted to a charity or other community organisation – who will therefore be encouraged to find ways to spend them …
– Have fun! Share food, listen to music together, meet at each other’s houses, meet at cafes, the beach or a beautiful park.

We have incorporated these ideas into a draft sign-up sheet for use with our Dunedin TimeBank Committee, and I have uploaded a copy to the TBANZ website. Any thoughts or suggestions that you have on how to form a Committee and keep people engaged and not burnt out are very welcome.

I hope to update this blog much more regularly in 2012. Thank-you for your comments and feedback so far, it’s been great to hear from you all.

Summer Research with Eastbay TimeBank, Whakatane

Monday, February 13th, 2012 | EMMA MCGUIRK | No Comments

Kia ora koutou! Ngaa mihi nui o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa.

(Greetings to you all, and happy new year!)

Over the Summer, for two weeks before Christmas, and three weeks after New Year’s (five weeks all together). I worked alongside Toni Boynton, the new paid co-ordinator at the Eastbay TimeBank in Whakatane. It was inspiring to see how well-organised and well-established they are (from the perspective of someone helping to set up a brand new TimeBank in Duendin) and I had many fascinating conversations with members and co-ordinators that will further inform my research, including 6 recorded interviews.

During the five weeks, I gave two presentations about my research, one at an Eastbay TimeBank shared lunch, and the other at a Green Screening (a community film night showing films on environmental issues, we watched ‘Growthbusters’). In addition to talking about my research I also gave an update from the National Time Banking Hui and promoted the TBANZ website ( I also attended three BNI (Business Network International) meetings with Toni, she has joined the Whakatane chapter as a representative of the TimeBank and this is proving to be a fantastic way to start having conversations and building relationships between the TimeBank and local business. We also headed over to Tauranga on a fabulous sunny day (the drive between Whakatane and Tauranga is stunning in that kind of weather) and met up with Kerri Tilby-Price, founder and Co-ordinator of the Tauranga TimeBank, and Linley Carpenter and Lauren Cowgill, founders and Co-ordinators of the new Waihi TimeBank. This was perhaps the first regional meeting for TimeBank Co-ordinators in the Bay of Plenty. It was wonderful to have so much time at the Eastbay TimeBank, can’t wait for the 2012 National Time Banking Hui this November, which will be held at a marae in Whakatane.

TBANZ forum and website now online

Sunday, October 16th, 2011 | EMMA MCGUIRK | 1 Comment

The TBANZ (Time Banking Aotearoa New Zealand) website and forum is now up and running. I’m excited about seeing this website grow and develop as we all make contributions to it. We will be creating a fantastic resource. You can register or log in to the TBANZ website here.

National Time Banking Hui in Lyttelton

Friday, October 14th, 2011 | EMMA MCGUIRK | 3 Comments

If you were unable to make it to the hui this weekend but you have a few questions that you’d love to ask, or comments that you’d like to share, add them here (as a reply to this post) before midday Saturday the 15th and we’ll gladly include them in the open space discussion. We were hoping to get the TBANZ forum up and running for this purpose, but it’s very imporant to get that website right so it’s taken a bit of extra time. For now however, I hope this can serve as a useful space. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts if you get some time today or tomorrow morning. Ngā mihi, Emma.

Dunedin TimeBank

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 | EMMA MCGUIRK | No Comments

Our brand new, emerging TimeBank in Dunedin is gaining momentum. Recently, the Malcam Trust have offered to umbrella us, we have had one meeting so far on their premises and look forward to further developing this exciting relationship. We have also been very fortunate to receive on-going support from Volunteering Otago. We have been putting the word out through our own networks and at our last meeting we formed a Steering Committee of 12 members. Peter has kindly created a brochure for us already (with our thanks going out to the Lyttelton, Otaki and Taita Time Banks for their previous work) and this has been very useful for communicating the concept. We have stated on the brochure that as we’re still getting established it is not possible to join the TimeBank at this stage, however we welcome any offers of support towards the work that we are doing to set one up. We have made appearances at a few public events, the Moving Planet day held at Dunedin North Intermediate, at a separate event run by the Malcam Trust, and tonight (Thursday 13th October) we will be speaking at Fronting Up to Our Deteriorating World – a public meeting being held here in Dunedin to discuss issues of concern, and practical solutions, around three broad themes: Energy, Economics and Community. At this event we’ll be talking about both the Dunedin TimeBank, and Fleeing Vesuvius – the exciting new publication from Living Economies. Our main focus in attending these events, at this early stage, is to find extra keen volunteers who are able to help us get set up, and just to generally ‘get the word out’ so that when we do launch (hopefully March or April 2012) there will be a few more people around town who are familiar with the idea. We are also really excited about the upcoming hui in Lyttleton this weekend, which looks sure to be an amazing event.

If you’d like to find out more or get involved with setting up the Dunedin TimeBank, contact Peter McDonald on 03 473 1681, or 027 379 4388. Or via email:, and we also have a google group.

So, where are the ‘bullet points’ from the North Island interviews?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 | EMMA MCGUIRK | No Comments

Yes, that’s a good question!* It was too ambitious for me to complete a summary for each interview at this stage, however this is what I have been working on in the meantime:

– I compiled a summary of the questions and comments from all interviews and conversations I have had in both the North Island and South Island since February.
– I took this list with me when I attended a TBANZ meeting in Lyttelton, on the 29th of August this year. Some very exciting developments came out of this meeting, including the idea for the upcoming National Time Banking Hui. I was very much in favour of the hui, to further promote the main idea behind the summaries of my interviews – knowledge sharing – as this is best approached in a collaborative way. I am sure that the hui will be a fantastic opportunity for this. The Lyttelton team also were pleased to receive these notes, as it gave them some further ideas regarding the information that new Time Banks need, and also for resources to put up on the TBANZ website (which will be online soon).
– We are also working hard here in Dunedin to establish our new TimeBank, and I’ve been encouraging many of our members to attend the hui, as well as going through my list of contacts in both the North and South Island to promote the hui (especially the availability of travel funding for those further away) to encourage as many people as possible to attend.
– I am also starting to help with the TBANZ forum, which is very close to being launched. The forum will be the ideal means of continuing our conversations that will begin at the hui, and of extending these conversations to include those who were not able to attend.

*In case you are wondering what this means, I visited some wonderful people all around the North Island in June this year, members and co-ordinators of the following Timebanks: Wellington South, Taita (in Lower Hutt, Wellington), Otaki, Kapiti, Whakatane and Kaitaia. During these interviews it was suggested that a useful idea would be to produce short bullet point summaries of each interview and post them here on the blog, to facilitate knowledge sharing. I am still going to write these up, and now that the teaching semester is over and we’re moving into the Summer break here at Otago, I am looking forward to re-visiting these interviews during this calm, relaxed period between semesters.

Time Banking Literature – a few interesting bits and pieces

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 | EMMA MCGUIRK | 5 Comments

On the literature side of things, I’ve finished a review of around 70 articles and book chapters on Time Banking, LETS (Local Exchange and Trading Systems), and other Community Currencies such as Ithaca HOURS. Most of these are international studies, and there have also been some studies done in New Zealand including Lucie Ozanne’s research with the Lyttelton Timebank which I think you are all familiar with, Lisa Geary’s report for the University of Canterbury (contains a great FAQ for start-up TimeBanks, with answers written by Julie Lee, from page 18 onwards), and Peter North’s work on Green Dollars.

Here are a few brief highlights from my literature search:
– There was a comprehensive review, Community Currency Research: An analysis of the literature published this year in the IJCCR (International Journal of Community Currency Research). The authors of this review have also made an extensive online database available. Click on ‘databank’ to search the literature that they have compiled.
– I found a few good overviews of the similarities and differences between Time Banking and LETS, and although it is an older article (2001) I really enjoyed this short piece On LETS and Time Dollars by Edgar Cahn.
– A fascinating book that I came across in February this year was Clue to the Economic Labyrinth, written by Michael Flurscheim, discussing many of the same issues that we are concerned with now – and published in 1902! A long text but well worth the effort. I still haven’t finished reading it but I intend to, and would be very excited to have somebody to talk to about this book. Why not make a large cup of tea or coffee and download the pdf 🙂
– Another interesting piece of writing is Elizabeth Miller’s PhD thesis Both Borrowers and Lenders: Time Banks and the Aged in Japan. Go straight to chapter four to read about the life of Teruko Mizushima, who created Time Banking in Japan decades before Edgar Cahn independently designed the same system in the United States.
– In his chapter The Longevity of Alternative Economic Practices: Lessons from Alternative Currency Networks Peter North lists the following key factors that he has observed amongst long-lasting alternative currency networks: The existence of at least one key and committed activist; strong management systems – including the delegation of tasks to a team, and the utilisation of the collective resources of this team (time, money, bicycle-power, creativity, personal computers and printers etc.); a supportive local state or voluntary body providing funding, worker time, or in kind support on a long-term basis; commitment building mechanisms – e.g. buddy or mentor systems for new members, regular pot luck dinners, newsletters, clothes and goods ‘freecycle’ parties, members feeling part of a community of like-minded people, and/or part of a wider political project; finally, a large and dense enough network of like-minded people getting what they need and with skills to share (North, 2010:38-42).

Let me know if there’s anything else in particular that you’d like to know from the literature and I can add further links and comments. I looked at studies of Timebanks in New Zealand, USA, Japan, Taiwan, the UK (Wales, Scotland and England), and Sweden.


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