Part 6: Whānau integration, innovation, and engagement

Whānau Ora: The first four years.

In this Part, we discuss the funding available to whānau through the WIIE fund, which ran from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2014. We discuss the funding system, how many whānau were funded and what the funding was for, and the information that Te Puni Kōkiri collected on the gains that whānau made. We give some examples of whānau plans and report on what people told us about whānau planning. We also discuss each year's planned and actual spending. At the end of the Part, we make some observations.

The WIIE fund and whānau planning

Whānau could apply to Te Puni Kōkiri for funding to prepare and/or carry out a plan to improve their lives in some way.18 A whānau plan set out the goals that whānau wanted to achieve, the actions they would take to achieve the goals, and when the goals would be completed. Whānau identified their measures of success. Because whānau are different and had different goals, their plans were different. Despite the differences, whānau plans had some common themes (see paragraph 6.30).

Whānau could get up to $5,000 to help with the costs of preparing a whānau plan and up to $20,000 to carry out their plan.

Te Puni Kōkiri had earlier experience of whānau planning through its Kaitoko Whānau programme, which began in 2009/10 (the same year the taskforce was set up). The programme involved appointing 50 kaimahi (workers) in 32 high-need communities to help whānau connect with government agencies and to ensure that whānau get all the help they are entitled to. The kaimahi's involvement led to whānau preparing plans and carrying them out.

The aims of the Kaitoko Whānau programme were:

  • reducing social dislocation within participating whānau;
  • increasing access to, and co-ordination of, social assistance;
  • improving resilience and mobility in Māori communities; and
  • improving access to, co-ordination of, and positive benefits from quality education, employment, health services, and housing opportunities.

Overview of the funding system

To apply for WIIE funding, whānau first needed to know that funding was available. They could have heard about it from someone they knew and trusted (such as a provider or someone at Te Puni Kōkiri's regional office) or by attending community meetings held by regional groups, which were mainly held to promote whānau planning and the WIIE fund.

After discussion within the whānau, someone needed to complete the application form, which was available online. Te Puni Kōkiri encouraged potential applicants to contact the regional office before completing the form. For differing reasons, not all whānau who contacted Te Puni Kōkiri went on to put in an application.

When their applications were accepted and funding released, most whānau would have one or more meetings or workshops to prepare their plan. Whānau either prepared the plans themselves or contracted someone to help them. If whānau had applied for funding through a provider collective, the collective might have assigned a navigator or other employee to work with them.

Depending on how long it took for whānau to prepare their plan, Te Puni Kōkiri might have required whānau to send in milestone reports on their progress. The reports had to state what expenses had been paid using WIIE funding.

A similar application system was used to fund whānau to carry out their plan and for Te Puni Kōkiri to monitor its progress and completion.

Who decided which whānau to fund?

In the first year, Te Puni Kōkiri's national office managed the WIIE fund. After that, Te Puni Kōkiri's regional offices managed applications and the resulting contracts. Regional groups were involved in decision-making.

Te Puni Kōkiri told us that the WIIE fund's management was transferred to the regions to better manage risk. Te Puni Kōkiri's staff and the regional groups had better knowledge of whānau than Te Puni Kōkiri's national office in Wellington, and the sums involved were relatively small compared with some of the amounts paid to provider collectives. (Figure 11 shows the range of payments made to provider collectives.)

WIIE funding was open to all whānau, regardless of ethnicity. Māori and Pacific whānau were to have priority because they are over-represented in negative statistics. Vulnerable whānau in areas of high deprivation and/or geographic isolation were also to have priority.

How many whānau were funded?

Figure 6 shows the number of whānau plans that were funded, the number of people covered by the plans, and the number of whānau who were funded to carry out some or all of their plans. It shows that one in five whānau funded to prepare a plan were later funded to carry out their plan.

Figure 6
Number of whānau and people funded through the whānau integration, innovation, and engagement fund, 2010/11 to 2013/14

2010/112011/122012/132013/14Total from 2010/11 to 2013/14
Number of whānau who were funded to prepare a whānau plan 1,059 863 296 377 2,595
Total number of people covered by a whānau plan 9,260 17,745 7,679 6,952 41,636
Average number of people covered by a whānau plan 9 21 26 18 16
Number of whānau who were funded to carry out some or all of their whānau plan 54 76 192 242 564
Of the whānau who were funded to prepare a plan, the proportion of whānau funded to carry out some or all of their whānau plan 5% 9% 65% 64% 22%

Source: Te Puni Kōkiri.
Notes: The data is for the financial year when a contract started, not when it was completed. Some whānau were funded to prepare a plan in one year and then funded to carry out that plan in a later year. We rounded averages and percentages to the nearest whole number. To find the average number of people covered by a whānau plan, we divided the total number of people covered by a whānau plan by the total number of whānau.

In 2012/13, the pattern of funding changed – the number of whānau funded to prepare a plan decreased from 863 to 296 (a difference of about 66%), and the number of whānau funded to carry out their plans increased from 9% to 65%. It is not clear why the pattern of applications changed between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

What costs did whānau have?

Whānau were funded to pay the costs of:

  • running meetings and workshops to prepare and/or carry out a whānau plan;
  • delivering training or services to meet priorities in a whānau plan; and
  • preparing information and resources for whānau and sharing them.

Specific costs could have included travel and food costs, equipment hire, printing costs, and fees for facilitators, speakers, or trainers.

Funding was not available for capital costs, salaries or rent, debt repayment, creating privately owned businesses, overseas travel and costs, and items that benefited only one person. Nor was funding available to carry out whānau plans if funding was available from other government agencies, such as through a benefit, student loan, grant, or service.

How did whānau prepare their plans?

Whānau used different techniques to work through issues during meetings and workshops. Some whānau used genograms or family trees to plot their strengths (such as educational qualifications, talents, and skills or home ownership) and/or problems and concerns (such as chronic diseases; problems with alcohol, drugs, or smoking; family violence; lack of formal education; or unemployment).19 Other techniques involved whānau imagining what they would do if money was no object and there were no other barriers. The information was used to prepare a whānau plan.

Examples of whānau plans

The following two examples of whānau plans show the sort of positive changes that the WIIE fund has helped to bring about.20

Example 1

A whānau identified that current disconnections among family members meant that people did not return home, whānau lacked traditional knowledge, trustees were idle, and people suffered illnesses. Gorse, blackberry, and willows were growing on their poorly kept land.

The whānau decided on actions to care for the land, encourage regular visits to the marae, and reconnect as whānau. They planned to:

  • use email and social media to keep up to date on each other's news;
  • hold regular sessions on the marae to encourage people to return and reconnect with whakapapa and tīkanga (customary values and practices);
  • give tamariki and mokopuna (grandchildren) speaking rights and responsibility for karakia to help them be more confident;
  • have the trustees prepare a charter for the whenua that would show respect for the land; and
  • teach tamariki to be kaitiaki whenua, plant fruit trees, and put in a māra kai (garden).

Costs to prepare and carry the plan out were shared between whānau and the WIIE fund.

Example 2

A whānau made up of several siblings – each with their own tamariki and mokopuna – decided that they would jointly rebuild their old papakāinga (homestead on their ancestral land). Some of their young people wanted to leave the cities and return to live and work on the land, but the existing papakāinga was not habitable. With help from a facilitator, the whānau prepared a plan to work towards this goal. The goal was that someone would be living in the papakāinga on a specific day in three years' time.

Their whānau plan listed the tasks needed to make this a reality, including getting the land surveyed to confirm boundaries so it could be fenced. They prepared a three-year plan to raise funds (from leases, raffles, garage sales, and monthly contributions) to reach their target. Funds to prepare the plan and carry it out came from whānau, family trusts, and the WIIE fund.

To carry out their plan, whānau met during a summer holiday to learn the skills needed to live and work on the land. The teachers were family members and others, such as Department of Conservation staff who gave advice on eradicating possums and rabbits. They started with tracing their whakapapa, on which they would found the papakāinga.

Some of the other skills learned were:

  • how to set up a financial management system;
  • weaving, mirimiri (massage), and communal cooking skills;
  • how to design and erect a building, and source materials;
  • gardening, fencing, and kōrero on facets of the land's history.

To reduce costs, whānau scheduled regular "working bees" during the three years to spend time on landscaping, gardening, and maintenance.

Information reported to Te Puni Kōkiri about whānau planning

Te Puni Kōkiri got reports on whether whānau completed all of their planned actions and whether they were completed on time. Te Puni Kōkiri collected the data to report on completion and timeliness rates.

Te Puni Kōkiri sorted the goals into themes. In 2013, Te Puni Kōkiri reported that common themes in whānau plans were, in no particular order:

  • better lives for children;
  • education and skills development;
  • employment;
  • health and cultural wellness; and
  • housing and home ownership.21

Te Puni Kōkiri's report did not make it clear what proportion of whānau plans matched which themes.

Have whānau benefited from their plans?

Te Puni Kōkiri has not yet published a comprehensive report on what whānau achieved through the WIIE fund.

However, reports from provider collectives and researchers suggest that whānau plans have been a useful tool for increasing whānau capability. Te Puni Kōkiri has occasionally published stories to show the short-term positive effects of whānau planning, which report that relationships between whānau and health and social services are more effective.22

Figure 7 shows two performance measures for the WIIE fund. It shows that most whānau completed most of their planned actions (deliverables) without too much delay, except for 2013/14 when just under half of all actions were not completed on time. For 2011/12, Te Puni Kōkiri reported different data in its reports, which was not explained.

Figure 7
Selected measures of service performance for the whānau integration, innovation, and engagement fund, 2010/11 to 2013/14

WIIE fund contracts and initiatives meet deliverables 95%^ 96%*

97% 95.63%
WIIE fund contracts and initiatives meet timelines 84%*

New measure#
87% 54.65%

Source: Vote Maori Affairs Report in relation to the Whānau Ora-based Service Development Multi-class output appropriations (non-departmental appropriations) for the years ended 30 June 2012, 2013, and 2014,
^ In 2010/11, the measures were combined.
* See the report for the year ended 30 June 2012.
# See the report for the year ended 30 June 2013.

Each year's planned and actual spending

In total, $20.8 million was spent through the WIIE fund, which was 15% of total spending during the four years. Figure 8 shows planned and actual spending for each financial year. Except for 2011/12, spending was less than the amount available.

During 2010/11 (the first year), Te Puni Kōkiri set up the policy and funding arrangements to run the WIIE fund, and promoted the fund to whānau and provider collectives. This meant some delay before applications started to come in, were assessed, contracts signed, and funding released. Consequently, $1.7 million was transferred into 2011/12.

In 2011/12 (the second year), $476,000 was transferred to 2012/13.

Underspending increased in 2012/13 (the third year). The Minister for Whānau Ora launched a review of the Initiatives halfway through the year. Te Puni Kōkiri told us that it was not prudent for it to make further funding commitments while the future direction of the Initiatives was unclear. This decision contributed to underspending and $2.4 million was transferred into 2013/14.

In 2013/14 (the fourth year), Te Puni Kōkiri told us that it made a conscious effort not to overcommit the budget towards the end of the financial year because the WIIE fund was closing. Funds not under contract by December 2013 were used to set up the commissioning agencies.

Figure 8
Whānau integration, innovation, and engagement fund: Planned and actual spending by financial year, 2010/11 to 2013/14

Figure 8 - Whānau integration, innovation, and engagement fund: Planned and actual spending by financial year, 2010/11 to 2013/14.

Source: Te Puni Kōkiri's annual reports,
Note: Actual spending is for all contracts paid by the WIIE fund, including navigation services.

What people told us about the funding system and whānau planning

Most people we spoke to knew of whānau who had positive experiences of whānau planning. Te Puni Kōkiri's regional staff told us that it was having a ripple effect in the community. Whānau who had achieved their goals were being asked to share their experiences and help other whānau prepare plans.

Whānau members we met with were grateful to get funding and other help to help them identify and work on their priorities. They spoke to us about re-establishing strong family connections and reconnecting with their marae. They saw these first steps as laying a foundation for making other changes that might involve government agencies, such as applying for courses or improving their health. They were emotional about their experiences and clearly valued the results they were achieving. It was obvious that preparing and completing the plans had been a challenging and positive experience for them.

Whānau members we met with also complimented Te Puni Kōkiri's regional staff for their help.

We were told that the WIIE fund was considered to be politically and financially risky because it was seen to fund whānau directly. Te Puni Kōkiri made whānau apply for funding through a legal entity because it did not want to fund whānau directly. We were told that this was a barrier for some whānau who did not have a family trust that they could use. On the other hand, Te Puni Kōkiri encouraged whānau to contact them before applying for funding, which meant that they could suggest a suitable legal entity to represent whānau.

Officials we spoke to told us that privacy issues concerned some whānau. The plan might include personal and sensitive information that might not normally be brought together or not normally given to Te Puni Kōkiri. When whānau had a contract for funding with Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Puni Kōkiri would hold a copy of their whānau plan. (Te Puni Kōkiri does not hold copies of all whānau plans because providers hold some.)

We heard examples of how these concerns were managed to protect privacy while getting Te Puni Kōkiri the information it needed to check that contracts were carried out. For example, one whānau plan was made up of several households' plans. Each household sent their plan to a family member who acted as project co-ordinator. The co-ordinator removed some personal identifying information before providing a copy of the combined plan to Te Puni Kōkiri. Although the whānau had some shared goals, each household kept some of their plan private from other households.

Our observations

The WIIE fund closed on 30 June 2014. Te Puni Kōkiri has not yet published a comprehensive report on what the WIIE fund achieved. Nor has Te Puni Kōkiri published a comprehensive assessment on the value of whānau planning as a technique for enabling whānau to increase control over their lives and quality of life.

Each year, Te Puni Kōkiri has commented on the Initiatives in its reports to Parliament. Early signs are that whānau were successful in setting goals and achieving them, and that whānau plans are a useful tool for change. From what people told us and what we have read, whānau have produced much better results than some people might have expected from such a relatively low-cost approach. Whānau planning has also led to whānau experiencing some benefits within a few weeks or months.

Te Puni Kōkiri collected ethnicity information from whānau, but we did not find any published data on the ethnicity of whānau who received WIIE funding. Unless this data is published, Parliament and the public cannot be sure that Māori and Pacific whānau were given priority, and that funding was available to all New Zealanders.

We are not aware that Te Puni Kōkiri has any plans to measure whether the short-term gains that whānau have made will translate into long-term gains, such as by commissioning a longitudinal study. If any such study were carried out, it could be aligned for Māori whānau with the relevant parts of Statistics New Zealand's survey of Māori well-being, which is called Te Kupenga.

Whānau were responsible for carrying out their plan, making decisions, and for reporting on the progress made and results achieved. As well as what they achieved, the WIIE fund enabled whānau to decide how they would achieve it. The whānau plan was a focal point for whānau to work together. In our view, this renewed collective engagement is likely to have contributed to empowering whānau.

People told us that they thought the need to apply for funding through a legal entity was a barrier for some whānau. We do not know how many whānau were put off applying for funds because of this requirement. Especially in the first financial year, whānau with higher capability and easy access to a legal entity would have been better able to work through Te Puni Kōkiri's procedures without extra help. After provider collectives were in place, they would have been able to help whānau through the application and reporting procedures.

Not all whānau had access to a provider collective, which increased the likelihood that they would need to spend money to establish a legal entity to access funding to prepare a whānau plan. We question whether it was necessary for funding to pass through a legal entity.

18: Strictly speaking, a "provider" applied rather than a whānau. For the WIIE fund, providers were mainly any legal entity that agreed to represent whānau who wanted WIIE funding. The legal entities held the contracts with Te Puni Kōkiri and reported against them. Examples of legal entities include family trusts, iwi organisations, and service providers (who might or might not be part of a provider collective). Some organisations (not necessarily providers) were funded through the WIIE fund to employ navigators or use their existing staff to provide navigational services. For example, a school might have employed a navigator to work with whānau.

19: Genograms were originally used to display family relationships and medical histories to see familial patterns. They are also used in fields such as social work, education, and family therapy.

20: We have stored the two examples of whānau plans securely and limited the number of people with access to them. We will destroy the plans at the end of this work on the Initiatives.

21: Te Puni Kōkiri, Whānau Ora fact sheet Hakihea – December 2013,

22: These are available in newsletters and occasional publications at

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