Complementary currencies have emerged as social policy tools in a number of countries in the last 15 years. This article examines the performance of Green Dollar Exchanges in New Zealand/Aotearoa in a neoliberal environment where fiscal ‘imperatives’ led to state provision of welfare being curtailed in favour of delivery by organisations within civil society through self-help. It argues that, while self-help does have a place within overall welfare provision, voluntary mechanisms failed to fill the gap left by state withdrawal. Consequently, an over-optimistic perspective of the contribution of mutual aid organisations in meeting welfare needs as an alternative to, rather than complementary to, state provision is problematic.
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