Living in Ruapehu Portal - Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu
The future of local government
The Living Ruapehu Portal Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu is a powerful new online portal designed to help local government lift community wellbeing by bringing together hard data with unique insights into people's actual lived experience through narratives.
Developed by Council with data consultancy Dot Loves Data and financial support from the Ministry of Social Development the Living in Ruapehu portal, Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu, is helping to achieve consensus between agencies and unlock funding and support to resolve some of Raupehu's most complex wellbeing issues.
The big issues facing New Zealand are all experienced at a local level and the solutions require local action.
Understanding how these issues are impacting at a community level is key to developing effective responses and the Living in Ruapehu Portal Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu gives us the understanding we need to do this.
A collaborative approach to improving wellbeing
Significantly, the portal enables a collaborative approach with government ministries, iwi, non-government organisations, and others including our communities themselves to addressing complex wellbeing issues.
Up until now achieving this collaborative approach has often been difficult due to different understandings of the key issues and their drivers.
This often came about due to policy, priority and funding decisions needing to rely on dated data with no real connection with people's actual current experience of life in a particular community.
We now have the ability to combine current hard data from key economic, social, environmental and cultural databases with insights into community wellbeing and the barriers to improving it.
Local and central government and partner organisations can now:
- build a consensus on priorities,
- agree action points,
- determine funding criteria, and,
- better target limited resources to improve community wellbeing and prosperity.
How does the Portal work and what content is available?
- The Portal provides access to key statistical and summary data on a range of Ruapehu metrics covering; access to services, economy, education, employment, health, housing and social wellbeing via a Microsoft Power Bi dashboard.
- The dashboard reads from unique data sets, either via proprietary tools developed by Dot Loves Data, or other data sources such as; homes.co.nz data about rental and housing affordability, daily EFTPOS spending data, government data from a range agencies including; MSD, MBIE and Kainga Ora, and others.
- The dashboard pulls all this together to provide insights into what is happening at a district and township level. These insights can be by township or wellbeing metric such as access to services, economy, education, employment, health, housing or social wellbeing.
- The Portal also provides narratives from local communities on their lived experience on key areas affecting wellbeing including; housing, employment and economy, education, accessibility, health, environment, social wellbeing.
- The narratives and data together tell a story of the community at the community level.
- We are able to compare the community narratives with the hard data and see whether they match or there is a discrepancy. We are able to identify whether we need more information or understanding to inform decision making. The narratives provide a 'reality check' on what the hard statistical data is telling us.
Who can use the Portal?
The portal is available free of use to anyone needing insights or understanding of Ruapehu's key data on services, economy, education, employment, health, housing and social wellbeing.
It would be helpful to anyone needing support for decision making in areas including; policy work, service planning, development projects, investment, resource allocation, funding requests amongst others.
The type of organisations that can benefit include; councils and CCO's, hapu and iwi, NGO's, health and other service providers, Government ministries, community organisations and others.
Is there a cost to using the portal?
No. The Portal is available free of charge.
Council wants to support better decision making and outcomes for Ruapehu communities. The Portal is a key tool in enabling this.
Is there support available to get the most out of the Portal?
Yes. Council can help you with getting information and insights from the Portal.
Email Candice at Council or call 07 895 8188.
What sort of benefits does the Portal provide?
- Accurate, timely data
- Insights and understanding of community wellbeing
- The ability to combine current hard data from key economic, social, environmental and cultural databases with insights into community wellbeing and the barriers to improving it.
- The ability to build a consensus with partner organisations including iwi on priorities, agree action points, funding criteria, and better target limited resources to improve community wellbeing and prosperity
- Unlock Government funding - Being a small rural council we face affordability challenges.
- Better decision making
- Supports good governance and leadership
- Helps build community trust and confidence in Council and local government
How are the community narratives of lived experience in Ruapehu captured?
Council with the support of a specialist independent community engagement facilitator undertook a series of workshops around the district to talk to a cross-section of people about their lives and experiences in Ruapehu.
The workshops were designed to provide a safe environment for people to share their experiences (good, bad and other) on key areas of wellbeing including; health, education, employment, access to services, the environment, culture, social wellbeing and any other areas they wished to share.
To ensure the narratives remain current and accurate Council will be undertaking new workshops on a regular, scheduled basis.
It is worth nothing that Council engages with our communities on a wide range of issues as part of our normal planning and service delivery. People are also encouraged to feedback to Council at any time. This other engagement and feedback helps to inform Council's wider understanding of our communities.
What is a Case Study example of the Portal helping improve community wellbeing?
Case Study - Ohakune Social Housing
A significant problem for councils is that policy and funding decisions are often based on data and understanding that is dated and not accurate such as census data or erroneous perceptions of a situation.
An example of this is the need for social housing in Ohakune.
Due to the relative wealth in Ohakune - with over 60% of the housing stock owned by non-resident holiday home owners - the perception has been that there isn't a social housing problem in Ohakune.
While traditional data sources have painted a prosperous community underneath this there are significant housing pressures that affect not only the poorest sections of the community but also seasonal and key workers critical to tthe economy.
The hard data and community narratives from the Portal highlighted the lived experience with housing for many local families.
- A lack of warm – dry – affordable housing
- A shortage of long-term rentals
- Competition with seasonal workers
- Key workers not being able to find housing
- Housing insecurity
- And associated social issues such as poor educational outcomes.
The hard data (from current data sources) in the portal provided us with accurate insights into local rental and housing realities and the impacts of these in Ohakune such as; education outcomes, access to services, crime, deprivation, health and wellbeing issues, and other flow-on impacts.
This data combined with narratives of Ohakune residents lived experience with rental/housing issues allowed us to demonstrate the social housing need in Ohakune.
In doing so we can overcome the limitations of using hard data alone.
We were able to unlock $2.1m in funding - and deliver a pilot project of six new social housing units.
The portal has enabled us to increase housing supply in Ohakune - housing that is warm and dry - economic to run - and helps keep their occupants healthy.
It is the richness of the narratives - alongside the data - that allowed us to demonstrate the social housing need in Ohakune.
Case Study - Accessibility
The narrative discussions highlighted that accessibility to key services and ability to engage in Council processes and decision making was an issue for many in our communities.
This is backed by the Social Deprivation Index (SDI) for Ruapehu communities which measures the socioeconomic status of communities for a wide variety of contexts such as needs assessment, resource allocation, research and advocacy. Note: The SDI applies to areas rather than individuals who live in those areas.
Many Ruapehu communities have a high SDI which is reflected in not having access to technology (computers, broadband) or reliable transport options both of which impede participation in Council processes such as elections.
With changes to Council representation arrangements introducing Maori Wards and 43.4% of the population identifying as Maori in the 2018 census improving accessibility to voting was seen as a priority.
For the 2022 local body elections Council put voting paper collection bins around the district to improve the ability for people to have their say.