Are we making a difference in the lives of New Zealanders – how will we know?

Are we making a difference in the lives of New Zea…
01 Nov 2018


We’re developing a new approach to analyse the impact of social services on the wellbeing of New Zealanders. This can help funders, providers and others understand whether these services are making a genuine and lasting difference to people’s lives, and inform better decisions about where to focus effort to improve people’s wellbeing.

This is a working paper. 


It is people who experience wellbeing. We can look at the wellbeing of organisations or groups, but it is not possible to meaningfully assess the wellbeing of these groups without referring to the wellbeing of the people involved. For this reason the core measurement concept we use is the wellbeing of the individual. However, we explicitly build our measurement approach to capture the social context in which people live and to enable us to paint a picture of the wellbeing of individual people, and in time families, whānau, and communities.While our measurement concept is the individual, interventions will still be offered to whole families, whānau, community groups etc. Those interventions can be assessed using our approach by choosing appropriate indicators, measures and data sources. 

It is intentionally general so that it can be applied to a wide range of different initiatives. While the individual is the basic unit of measurement, analysis is focused on groups of people. This also allows measurement of the impacts of an intervention on both the individuals who receive the intervention directly and others who may benefit indirectly. It can capture both the outcomes directly sought as well as others that may be an unintended consequence.

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