Group of young people standing against a wall.

Social Sector Trials

What are the Social Sector Trials?

The Social Sector Trials involve the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice and Social Development, and the New Zealand Police working together to change the way that social services are delivered.

The Trials test what happens when a local organisation or individual directs cross-agency resources, as well as local organisations and government agencies to deliver collaborative social services.

What is the model?

At the core is:

  • either a contracted Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) or an employed individual in place in these communities to lead a programme of work using cross agency resources
  • NGOs and individuals planning social service delivery, managing relevant contracts and funding that are within the scope of the programme, overseeing resources-in-kind, developing networks, engaging with the community and influencing social services outside of their direct control (like statutory services)
  • the establishment of Social Sector Trial local advisory groups. Representatives include iwi, council, government agencies, community representatives and social service providers, that oversee the direction and priority setting, engage community ownership and involvement
  • the development and implementation of a Social Sector Trial Action Plan (or Action Plan) for each Trial.
Individual or NGO manages resources in kind, contracts and the funding pool to implement new processes to best suit community needs

Governance and management

  • The Minister for Social Development, Hon Anne Tolley, has ultimate responsibility for the Social Sector Trials.
  • The Cabinet Social Policy Committee (SOC) provides oversight and decision-making for the Social Sector Trials. SOC is comprised of twenty Ministers, including the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Minister of Health, Minister of Education, Minister for Social Development, and the Minister of Police.
  • A group of partner agency chief executives acts as a governance group for the Social Sector Trials. These are the chief executives of Social Development, Health, Education, Justice and the New Zealand Police.
  • A Director: Social Sector Trials is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Social Sector Trials including managing contracts with NGOs and employing committed individuals.

Accountability arrangements

National (overseeing all sixteen locations)


Social Sector Trials diagram

Location (responsive to local conditions)

Social Sector Trials diagram

When and where?

The Social Sector Trials started on 1 March 2011 in six communities. These six locations have been extended to finish on 30 June 2015: Taumarunui, Waitomo District, South Waikato District, Kawerau District, Horowhenua District and Gore District.

Ten further Trials began on 1 July 2013: Kaikohe, Rānui (West Auckland), Waikato District, Rotorua District, Whakatane Township, Gisborne City, South Taranaki District, Wairarapa (Masterton District, South Wairarapa District, Carterton District), Porirua, and South Dunedin. Trials in these ten locations are due to finish on 30 June 2015.

Social Sector Trials NZ Map

Why are the Social Sector Trials in place?

Government wanted to affect outcomes by testing a new model.

By giving an individual or an NGO mandate to coordinate local programmes and services, the model aims to support decision making at the local level, build on existing networks and strengthen coordination at every level of government and within the community.

The following table sets out the locations, outcomes and target groups for each Trial location:

Trial locationOutcomesTarget Group
Kaikohe Youth-focused outcomes (reduced offending; reduced truancy; reduced levels of alcohol and drug use; increased numbers participating in education, training and employment) 12-18 years old
Rānui (West Auckland) Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
Waikato District Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
Taumarunui Child and youth-focused outcomes 5-18 years old
Waitomo District Child and youth-focused outcomes 5-18 years old
South Waikato District Child and youth-focused outcomes 5-18 years old
Rotorua District Education-focused outcomes (increased participation in quality ECE; increased literacy and numeracy achievement; increased success at NCEA level 2 [or equivalent]; reduced risky behaviour [including alcohol and drug use, sexual behaviour and offending]; successful transitions into further education, training and employment) 0-18 years old
Whakatane Township Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
Kawerau District Child and youth-focused outcomes 5-18 years old
Gisborne City Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
South Taranaki District Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
Horowhenua District Child and youth-focused outcomes 5-18 years old
Wairarapa (Masterton, South Wairarapa, Carterton District Authorities) Youth-focused outcomes and also reduced risky sexual behaviour 12-18 years old
Porirua Health-focused outcomes (reduced avoidable presentations to the Wellington Hospital’s Emergency Department, and avoidable admissions to the Wellington Hospital through a cross-agency response) 0-74 years old
South Dunedin Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
Gore District Child and youth-focused outcomes 5-18 years old

The Social Sector Trials are also practically testing:

  • the effects of transferring the control of resources, decision-making authority and accountability for results from government agencies to an employed individual or NGO based at the local level
  • the barriers that exist to cross-agency service delivery at the local level and ways to overcome these barriers within current system parameters
  • a Joint Venture Board as an innovative model of cross-agency governance for collaborative initiatives with shared outcomes.

What is happening in Trial locations?

In every community with a trial:

  • local advisory groups are in place to ensure collaboration at the grass-roots level.
  • Action Plans are in place as an agreed approach and community specific actions to achieve outcomes. Links to these plans can be found below under the heading: Social Sector Trial Action Plans
  • actions are in place toward the achievement of outcomes include:
    • employment of a full time truancy officer in Kawerau (to ensure local knowledge and local timely responses to school attendance issues)
    • a work-ready programme in Ranui to equip young people with skills for employment (with components including: drivers licensing, the Duke of Edinburgh Award and work experience)
    • the creation of a youth music and media hub in South Waikato (with a homework club, the CLUBS youth mentoring programme, a purpose-designed training programme for disengaged 16 and 17 year olds and the FRESH FM radio station)
    • the provision of 250 tubes of Bepanthen antiseptic cream to 30 Porirua primary schools and 60 early childhood centres in the region for their first aid kits
    • alcohol risk reduction workshops in South Dunedin (focused on equipping professionals working in this space with additional knowledge and skills to work with young people)
    • the "Number 12" youth hub in Waitomo (with driver license training, networked learning, mentoring programmes, structured programmes, probation supervision, and information about health and social services)
    • distribution of over 4000 bottles of liquid soap and over 400 boxes of tissues to all primary schools in Porirua, with hand washing promotional material for the schools
    • the creation of eleven Youth Coordinator roles in Horowhenua (to provide a wrap-around support service for young people) and a community strategy on pathways for young people that are at-risk of disengaging from education, to enable them to either remain in education or engage in further training or employment
    • a study centre Trial in Wairarapa (to trial interest and value from provision of after-school study support)
    • breakfast clubs in Taumarunui sponsored by Fonterra and Sanitarium (to provide breakfast for students before school)
    • the development of the Hokonui Tertiary High School in Gore - focused on NCEA level 2 achievement rates and transition rates into further education, training or employment

Social Sector Trial Action Plans

Each Trial location has an Action Plan setting out how the community in their Trial location will work together to achieve their outcomes

The Action Plans for each location can be accessed here:


Momentum around the Social Sector Trials in the six original locations is strong. There is evidence of increased levels of cooperation, collaboration, transparency and accountability around programmes and services as well as progress towards impacts on outcomes.

Specific examples across the six original Trials include:

South Waikato

Since the Trial began in South Waikato, locally collected data shows that the closure of the most persistent (non- enrolled) truant cases has increased from 21 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2013. There have been fewer young people attending Youth Court. A new Broadcasting, Media and Music Technology (BMT) programme targeted at disengaged 16 and 17 year olds has a transition rate to jobs or training of between 75 and 100 percent.

Locally reported data shows that the percentage of young people leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or above in South Waikato has increased by 20 percent since 2011.

New programmes and services such as the "it's not ok to miss a day" truancy campaign, the CLUBS youth mentoring programme, the Youth Hub, Youth Workers in Schools and a focus on community connectedness have contributed to these great statistics.


In Waitomo, locally collected data shows that there has also been an impressive increase in the closure of the most persistent (non-enrolled) truant cases (from 18 percent in 2011 to 100 percent in 2013). Locally collected data also shows that the number of young people from Te Kuiti High School going on to tertiary education has increased from 18 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2013.

The Waitomo youth hub 'Number 12' has also been established as an agency authorised to supervise probation work for 17 to 19 year olds. This means young people can undergo probation in a safe and supportive environment surrounded by positive role models.

A new youth mentoring programme, a multi-agency approach to Alternative Education, a push on youth employment and a cultural change towards young people have all been contributing factors to turning negative statistics around.


In Taumarunui, 262 young people completed Police Education Programmes in 2012. The number of school leavers with NCEA level 2 increased from 65 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2012. Closure rates of the most persistent truant (non-enrolled) cases have increased from 7 percent in 2011 to 89 percent in 2013.

Contributing factors have included a multiagency approach to improving attendance at school, a mentoring programme for recidivist youth offenders and a truancy free CBD.


Since the Trial began in Kawerau, 65 young people who were essentially 'off the radar' have been reengaged in education or training. Locally collected data shows that there has been a 30 percent reduction in truancy across 2011 – 2013, and that the closure rates for persistent truant (non-enrolled) cases has increased from 21 percent in 2010 to 92 percent in 2013. In 2012, there was a 25 percent reduction in youth court appearances, and youth offending reduced by 40 percent across 2012/2013.

A full-time local truancy officer, new health and social services, and new case management approaches have contributed to these impressive statistics.


A 25 percent reduction in youth apprehensions was recorded across 2012/2013. Data collected locally shows an impressive increase in the closure of the most persistent (non-enrolled) truant cases (from 21 percent in 2010 to 91 percent in 2013) was also recorded. Data collected from local schools by the Trial lead shows an increase in the number of students achieving NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 in 2013.

New programmes and services such as Youth Coordinators in schools and the community, the truancy free CBD, and the "activating youth fund" help ensure finances aren't barriers to participation in sports and other activities, and new health services have contributed to these great statistics.


Since the Trial began in Gore, local data shows that there has been an impressive increase in the closure rates for persistent (non-enrolled) truancy cases from 18 percent in 2011 to 96 percent in 2013) and also shows that the number of unjustified absence rates across Gore secondary schools have decreased by 66.75 percent since term 1 2012.

Youth apprehensions decreased in the 12 months ending 30 June 2013, as did the number of youth drink driving apprehensions. Data collected by the Trial Lead from local schools shows that the number of students achieving NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 increased in 2013.

Programmes and services coordinated through the Gore Action Plan - such as the Rock-On truancy approach, breakfast clubs, holiday programmes and wrap around support for at-risk young people - have contributed to these great statistics.


A cross-agency evaluation of the Social Sector Trials has been carried out. It considered:

  • the contribution that Trials made to achieving the Trial outcomes
  • opportunities found when implementing the programme
  • whether the Trials had led to a better system of service delivery
  • the similarities and differences between the two Trial lead approaches (NGO and individual)
  • the barriers to implementation.

The findings of the evaluation can be found here:

Further information and contacts

Location Trial lead approach Project lead Contact
Kaikohe NGO: Te Pae Aronga Taitamariki (joint venture) Brennan Rigby 021 673 814
Rānui NGO: Police Bluelight Ventures Mark Veale 021 258 0580
Waikato District Committed Individual Kodi Hapi 07 957 6880 or 029 278 8046
Taumarunui Committed Individual Allison Annand
029 252 3685
Waitomo District Committed Individual Hilary Karaitiana 07 904 9299 or 029 650 0098
South Waikato District NGO: Raukawa Charitable Trust Marama Tahapehi 07 885 0260 or 027 886 2992
Rotorua District NGO: Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue iho Ake Roana Bennett 07 346 0095 or 027 353 5360
Whakatane NGO: WERA Consultants Ltd Israel Hawkins
07 346 1337
Kawerau District Committed Individual Kevan McConnell 07 922 6090 or 029 650 1632
Gisborne Committed Individual Leslynne Jackson 06 986 8603 or 029 278 8406
South Taranaki District NGO: Tui Ora Ltd Melanie Loft 06 759 4064 or 027 839 8676
Horowhenua District NGO: Life to the Max Joanne Maraki
06 368 8005 or 021 289 633
Wairarapa NGO: Southern Wairarapa Safer Community Council Julie Brunton and Matt Grant
06 379 5407 or 021 509 493
NGO: Compass Health Ranei Wineera 04 239 6004 or 027 436 1108
South Dunedin Committed Individual Mary-Ann McKibben 03 955 6617 or 029 650 0346
Gore District NGO: Community Networking Trust Lisa McKenzie 03 208 8480 or 027 204 2003