Who we are and what we do

The Social Wellbeing Agency works for the social sector. We use data and insights to help Government and the social sector improve the lives of New Zealanders.

Toi Hau Tāngata

Toi Hau Tāngata, our reo Māori name, signifies the valuable aspects of living life – manifesting in the wellbeing of the people.

The individual words have many meanings, including:

Toi | peak

Hau | vital essence

Tāngata | humankind

Mohi Apou of Taranaki-Whanganui descent gifted the name to us. Toi Hau Tāngata comes from a karakia unique to Taranaki-Whanganui iwi, ‘Te Hau Tai Tāngata’ – the principles influencing the creation of mankind. The karakia is not written but passed from one generation to the next as he taonga tuku iho, or oral tradition.

Our role

Our role is to support collective action and improve social wellbeing. We were established sitting outside of agency silos as a departmental agency hosted by Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission. We work on behalf of behalf of the the Social Wellbeing Board and the social sector to help on issues that do not fit neatly into the work of any single agency.

Our purpose is mandated by Cabinet. It is to:

  • provide advice on cross-social sector issues and support the social sector with cross-system work
  • create insights, tools and practices to improve cross-system decision-making.

Within government, we have an important role supporting social sector leadership, particularly the Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee (SWC) and the Social Wellbeing Board (SWB).

Delivering our strategic priorities

We’re rising to the challenge of what it means to be the Social Wellbeing Agency. Our foundations and strength have been in data and analysis, reflecting our early focus supporting the centralised provision of tools and data capability to support decision-making. In late 2019, Cabinet made decisions to refocus our role and functions. This was to help us best support an improving social wellbeing approach and to address the gaps in the resources available to support cross-sector leadership groups.

Our refocused role and mandate puts a much greater emphasis on providing strategic advice on issues that cut across or fall between agency responsibilities, and how we support SWB [CAB-19-MIN-0504]. Since these decisions, we have put more emphasis on aligning our work programme and activities to the priorities of the SWB.

During the year, we had four strategic priorities that focused our work to ensure we meet our functions for the social sector.

A pyramid diagram representing the strategic priorities of the Social Wellbeing Agency. The middle of the pyramid is a dark blue triangle with the text ‘Building our foundations’. The bottom of the pyramid is labelled ‘Supporting system capability to improve social wellbeing’, and  contains two orange triangles. One triangle contains the text ‘Lifting Social-sector data capability’ and the other contains the text ‘Deepening social-sector understanding of wellbeing’.  contains bottom of the pyramid has three top of the pyramid focusses on providing advice on cross-social sector issues. The top of the pyramid is labelled ‘Providing advice on cross-social sector issues’ and contains one orange triangle. This triangle contains the text ‘Delivering cross-sector strategic advice and insights’.

Strategic update in 2021/22

We have started work on refreshing our strategic priorities, and we expect to launch a new strategic framework later in 2021. We want to build a reputation as trusted advisers on cross-sector issues, as well as lifting agency support to SWB. Our refreshed strategic priorities will reflect this.

Formal reporting against the new strategic framework will start at the end of the first quarter for 2021/22.

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