Our people

Our values

Our values, developed by our people, focus our efforts in every way and are used internally and externally to help guide us. Our people identified concepts that reflected our values in a meaningful way for them. From that work, we were able to create imagery that is meaningful for staff and that strengthens our values. These values guide us when we work in the office and with the people and groups we collaborate with. They also underpin the approach, behaviour and performance of the Agency in its day-to-day interactions and its agency policies and capability framework.

Tāngata - We're about people


We're about people

People will do better, sooner and for longer when the social system works in partnership, acting on better evidence to develop and deliver services.

Manawa Māui - We are a catalyst for change

Manawa Māui

We are a catalyst for change

We challenge the status quo constructively and seek better ways of doing things. We help create change to improve lives through different approaches.

Taunakitanga - We influence through evidence


We Influence through evidence

We sue evidence to influence positive change for New Zealanders.

Puaretanga - We're transparent by nature


We're transparent by nature

We will share what we're doing, how we're doing it, and what we learn.

He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata

Our people strategy Tāngata builds on our workplace culture where everyone is valued, respected and can bring their whole selves to work. It puts our people at our centre, because we know that investing in them supports the Agency’s capability to improve wellbeing for New Zealanders.

Tāngata focuses on building an environment that enables, supports and invests in our people’s development and performance for a strong, productive culture. We want the Agency to be known as an employer that grows talent and as a great place to work.

Tāngata has a five-year horizon and focuses on:

  • delivering high-quality strategic performance
  • supporting our people to perform and develop their skills, expertise and careers
  • creating a healthy and safe working environment
  • understanding diversity and how to manage it for the value it can add to our agency and performance.

Building our capability

Performing together through Ngā Tahi

Ngā Tahi means 'together' or 'as one', acknowledging that we grow together, individuals, managers, teams and the organisation alike.

Ngā Tahi, our performance framework, was developed in consultation with all our people, and it focuses on supporting them to do their best, as our success relies on their performance and capability. Ngā Tahi takes a conversation-driven approach. It focuses on regular and meaningful conversations between people and their managers to drive performance and development. We specifically focus on three areas, Contribution, Behaviour & Leadership, and Capability.

Growing data science and analytics talent

We think it’s important to grow talent from a diverse range of people in the area of data science and analytics in New Zealand. We continue to participate in the joint Data and Analytics Summer Internship programme and hosted three interns during 2020/21.

Our Diversity and Inclusion programme

Our Papa Pounamu priority commitments

Our values and strategic people and culture goals are essential to meeting our Papa Pounamu commitments.

Papa Pounamu aims to bring together diversity and inclusion practices across the Public Service and to support Public Service chief executives to meet their diversity and inclusion obligations and goals.

Their focus areas are:

  • strengthening cultural competency
  • supporting and engaging with employee-led networks
  • addressing bias and discrimination
  • building inclusive leadership
  • building relationships in our workplace.

Cultural competency

A red, grey and dark blue icon for Te Aho Kura

We’re growing our cultural competency through implementing Te Aho Kura.

Te Aho Kura is 'the special strand'. Kura is the traditional, sacred colour red, while te aho tapu, or te aho kura, the first and main thread of the korowai, weaves the key strands of the cloak together. We know that Māori have a unique status as New Zealand’s first peoples and as partners under the Treaty of Waitangi. As an organisation, we are working to build our Māori capability so we can work effectively as a good partner.

As part of this year’s programme, we offered the Treaty Wall Walk by Dr Sim Bull. The Wall Walk is an interactive half-day workshop designed to build the knowledge of the history of bicultural relations in Aotearoa New Zealand. As at 30 June 2021, 62% of our staff completed the Wall Walk, including 57% of leaders. In addition, we use waiata, karakia and tikanga to encourage and support the use of te reo Māori in the workplace.

In January 2021, we ran a baseline survey to understand our organisation’s current capability in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori, which has informed our bespoke learning programme. We have also received positive feedback through our annual staff survey Kōrero Mai, with 78% of staff agreeing that Te Aho Kura made a positive impact on their work at the Agency. This is a 5% increase from last year.

Supporting and engaging with employee-led networks

As a small agency, we look to partner with other agencies to support our staff through employee-led networks. We encourage people to set up employee-led networks and also promote external employee-led networks. Our leaders are supportive, with staff being able to attend network meetings in work time. The networks our people can access are wide-ranging, including those for women, Māori, Pacific peoples and Rainbow communities.

Our Agency currently has representatives attending and contributing to the Cross-Agency Rainbow Network, Government Womens Network and Tūhono–Māori in the Public Service.

Addressing bias and discrimination

As at 30 June 2021, 95% of staff and 100% of leaders completed the unconscious bias training we offered. The training is available to all staff, including new starters as part of their induction process.

We have developed a bias minimisation toolkit, for use during decision-making. We have also put in place a process for us to identify and mitigate bias when reviewing human resources policies and practices. We are planning to create resources for leaders to use in their team meetings on a quarterly basis to encourage reflection and action.

Building inclusive leadership

Our leaders ensure the people they work with are valued and respected. They use knowledge gained through programmes, such as unconscious bias training, to build an inclusive culture. 77% of staff responding to our Kōrero Mai survey agreed with the statement ‘I can bring my whole self to work each day’, a 4% increase from last year.

We are developing an inclusive leadership programme for our leaders, aiming to have all our leaders complete the workshops by the end of 2022. As part of this work, we are also updating our Ngā Tahi template performance framework to include building diversity and inclusion capability (including te reo Māori, New Zealand history and the Treaty of Waitangi).

Building relationships in our workplace

We held two hui as part of our relationship-building programme: “Delivering Together”, our all staff hui, was held in July 2020 and “Toi Hau Tangata – Collaboration for Wellbeing” was held in June 2021 with our stakeholders.

These hui created invaluable opportunities for SWA to come together and engage in whakawhanaungatanga with each other and with the guests who provided input for the sessions.

Gender Pay Gap Action Plan

The Tātou strategic plan includes implementing our gender pay gap action plan. We delivered unconscious bias training to our leaders and people, implemented our flexible working policy and reviewed HR policies to remove bias. In doing this, we met all the Government Gender Pay Gap Action Plan milestones of equal pay, flexible work by default, no bias or discrimination in remuneration systems or HR practices and gender-balanced leadership.

Reflecting Aotearoa in our workforce

As Aotearoa New Zealand becomes more diverse it’s important our Agency employs and supports people with diverse backgrounds, thinking and ideas to ensure our work improves the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. During 2020/21 our diversity and inclusion working group Tātou have been implementing our diversity and inclusion strategic plan. 

This is important work that we prioritise, value and incorporate in our progress towards the Papa Pounamu priority commitments.

Tātou envisions our agency:

  • having a workforce that reflects Aotearoa New Zealand
  • being a safe place where individual ideas, background and cultures are valued, and
  • having an inclusive culture, free from bullying and harassment, and where bias is understood and minimised.

One of the focus areas for Tātou is to create a safe and supportive work environment for our people who are members of the Rainbow community. To do this, we signed an agreement with the Rainbow Tick organisation to work towards achieving the Rainbow Tick in 2021/22. Tātou holds events to educate and celebrate aspects of diversity to help build an inclusive culture. This year, events included holding a session for staff to learn basic New Zealand Sign Language, learning about Matariki, celebrating Pink Shirt Day and providing information on Trans Awareness Day.

As a small agency, we promote external employee-led networks, encouraging our staff to join. Our leaders are supportive, with staff being able to attend network meetings in work time. The networks our people can access are wide ranging, including those for women, Māori, Pacific peoples and Rainbow communities.

Our Agency currently has representatives attending and contributing to the Cross-Agency Rainbow Network, Government Womens Network and Tūhono - Māori in the Public Service.

To attract and retain a workforce that better reflects the diversity of New Zealand, we reviewed our recruitment policy.  We are placing advertisements to reach a broader range of candidates, particularly Māori and Pacific peoples.

To help increase the diversity of people working in data and analytics, we supported the Elevating Aotearoa’s Future programme by hosting an intern. The programme supports people from underrepresented communities, such as Māori and Pacific peoples, and especially wāhine, into careers in data and analytics over a 12-month period.

Our people by numbers

Employee engagement

(from the 2021 SWA Korero Mai survey)

Work-life balance
of staff report “I feel I am able to balance my work and private life”

Valuing diversity
of staff report “SWA values diversity”

Inclusive culture
of staff report “SWA has an inclusive culture where personal values, beliefs and commitments are respected”

Staff numbers

permanent and fixed term as at 30 June 2021

Health and safety

Establishment of SWA as a PCBU

health and safety representatives trained

incident notification

Staff breakdown

A pie graph showing the gender breakdown of staff at the Social Wellbeing Agency. 65.6% of staff identify as female (shown in orange), 31.3% of staff identify as male (shown in light blue), and 3.1% of staff have chosen not to disclose their gender (shown in teal)

People leaders by gender

A pie graph showing the gender breakdown of people leaders at the Social Wellbeing Agency. 71% of leaders identify as female (shown in orange), and 29% of leaders identify as male (shown in blue)


Staff can specify more than one ethnicity

A horizonal bar graph showing staff ethnicity at the Social Wellbeing Agency, with blue bars. 86.2% of staff identify as European, 17.2% of staff identify as Māori and 10.3% of staff identify as Asian

Average staff age

The average age of AWA staff is 40 years old, made up off the following:

A horizonal bar graph showing a breakdown of staff age at the Social Wellbeing Agency.  ethnicity at the Social Wellbeing Agency, with blue bars. 86.2% of staff identify as European, 17.2% of staff identify as Māori and 10.3% of staff identify as Asian. 22% of staff are in the 20-30 year old age bracket, 38% of staff are in the 31-40 year old age bracket, 16% of staff are in the 41-50 year old age bracket, 19% of staff are in the 51-60 year old age bracket, and 6% of staff are over 60

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