About us

The Social Wellbeing Agency Toi Hau Tāngata works on challenging social sector problems to improve people’s lives.

We want to achieve the greatest impact

We focus our efforts on where we can make the greatest impact to lead and shine a light on policy issues that affect the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

We are a multi-disciplinary team comprising data scientists, business and data analysts, policy thinkers, researchers, evaluators and communicators. We collaborate across the system advising on policy issues that fall between the gaps. Ultimately, we want our approaches to achieve sustainable improvements for the wellbeing of New Zealanders. 

As a Government agency, we deliver advanced data analytics and insights in a cost-effective way, thus ensuring that we re-invest in system infrastructure and tools that will benefit the public service in the long term. You can read our 2021-2023 Strategy here(external link).

Our organisation

We report to the Minister for Social Investment Hon Nicola Willis(external link) who sets the priorities for the portfolio and agrees the Agency's work programme. 

We are the lead advisor, alongside the Treasury, on the implementation of the social investment approach in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We became the Social Wellbeing Agency on 19 March 2020 after previously being the Social Investment Agency. We are currently a Departmental Agency hosted within Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission. From 1 July 2024 we will become the Social Investment Agency, a stand-along central agency.

Toi Hau Tāngata

Our name Toi Hau Tāngata 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 and 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 the taonga tuku iho, or oral tradition. Our reo Māori name aligns with our vision that ‘People, whānau and communities live the life to which they aspire’.

We measure wellbeing and partner with others

We use a broad and inclusive set of wellbeing measures that tell us whether people are leading full, meaningful lives. We create tools and practices to target gaps in the social sector’s knowledge. We partner with the social sector, combining science, data and lived experience to draw insights that are enriched by whānau voices.

We support the sector’s capability to utilise insights by creating tools and practices that stimulate innovation. And we work with decision-makers to take insights and apply them.