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.

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.


Thursday, September 8th, 2011 | EMMA MCGUIRK | 2 Comments

Welcome to my research blog, set up to record and share what I am learning as I conduct research with members of Time Banks around New Zealand. I hope you will find the information and resources that I upload here to be useful and informative. I will be updating this regularly, so check back regularly to catch up on the latest posts! Ngā mihi nui, nā Emma.