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 for young people, 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 in each location – 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 Trials Plan (or Action Plan) for each location.
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 Chair of the Cabinet Social Policy Committee, Hon Tony Ryall, has ultimate responsibility for the Social Sector Trials.
  • A Ministerial sub-committee provides oversight and decision-making for the Social Sector Trials. The Ministerial sub-committee is currently the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Chair of the Cabinet Social Policy Committee (and Minister of Health), Minister of Education, Minister for Social Development, Minister of Police, and Minister of Youth Affairs.
  • A Joint Venture Board acts as a governance group for the Social Sector Trials. The Joint Venture Board is currently the Chief Executives of Social Development, Health, Education, Justice and the New Zealand Police. The Chair of the Joint Venture Board is the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development.
  • 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. This position is located within the Ministry of Social Development.

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 Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
Waitomo District Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
South Waikato District Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 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 Youth-focused outcomes 6-18 years old
Gisborne City Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
South Taranaki District Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 years old
Horowhenua District Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 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 Youth-focused outcomes 12-18 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?

Since 1 March 2011:

  • local advisory groups have been put in all locations – to ensure collaboration at the grass-roots level.
  • Social Sector Trial Plans have been written and published for all locations. Each Plan has an agreed approach and community specific actions to achieve within the timeframe.
  • links to these plans can be found below under the heading: Social Sector Trials: Action Plans
  • initiatives focused on addressing the Social Sector Trial outcomes, have been delivered. Examples include:
    • employment of a full time truancy officer in Kawerau
    • creation of a youth wellness centre at Tarawera College – with all resources provided by the Kawerau community
    • actively using community service to enable young people to work off Police and Justice system fines in Waitomo
    • development of a parent portal at Te Kuiti High School to enable caregivers to monitor young people’s attendance and achievement
    • creation of nine Youth Coordinator roles (to provide a wrap-around support service for young people) in Horowhenua
    • homework clubs in Horowhenua
    • the launch of a school attendance competition in Taumarunui
    • creation of breakfast clubs in Taumarunui – sponsored by Fonterra and Sanitarium
    • the creation of a youth music and media hub in Tokoroa
    • the promotion of cultural identity programme in Tokoroa
    • implementation of the ‘rock on’ programme in Gore to case manage and support young people who have a history of truancy
    • development of a “Youth Specialist” role in Gore – to provide support to at-risk young people.

Social Sector Trials: 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, the closure of the most persistent (non- enrolled) truant cases has increased from 21% in 2011 to 78% 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 75-100%.

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, a Youth Worker in Schools and a focus on community connectedness have contributed to these great statistics.


Since July 2012, Youth Court sittings have not been required in Waitomo. The number of young people from Te Kuiti High School going on to tertiary education has increased from 18% in 2010 to 55% in 2013.

There has also been an impressive increase in the closure of the most persistent (non-enrolled) truant cases (from 18% in 2011 to 100% in 2013). NCEA achievement levels for Levels one and two have increased.

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% in 2011 to 78% in 2012. Closure rates of the most persistent truant (non-enrolled) cases have increased from 7% in 2011 to 89% 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. There has been a 30% reduction in truancy. The closure rates for persistent truant (non-enrolled) cases has increased from 21% in 2010 to 92% in 2013. In 2012, there was a 25% reduction in youth court appearances, and youth offending reduced by 40% across 2012/2013.

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


A 25% reduction in youth apprehensions was recorded across 2012/2013. An impressive increase in the closure of the most persistent (non-enrolled) truant cases (from 21% in 2010 to 91% in 2013) was also recorded.

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

In the first 18 months of there being an ‘Activating Youth’ Fund, the Fund granted over $30K to 287 young people – to enable physical and other extracurricular activity to those for whom financial barriers would otherwise be in place.


Since the Trial began in Gore, there has been an impressive increase in the closure rates for persistent (non-enrolled) truancy cases from 18% in 2011 to 96% in 2013) and unjustified absence rates at Menzies College decreased by 43% across 2011/2012.

Youth apprehensions decreased in the 12 months ending 30 June 2013, as did the number of youth drink driving apprehensions.  More young people know where to access health and social services.

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 Jade Hohaia 07 904 5251 or 029 650 0568
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 Cindy Lee 07 307 9316 or 021 058 0565
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 Briar Moffatt 06 368 8005 or 021 289 0191
Wairarapa NGO: Southern Wairarapa Safer Community Council Dorreen Mackenzie 06 379 5407 or 021 509 446
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