Our Data, Our Way

Shaping a framework for sharing personal data in NZ

How do New Zealanders feel about sharing their personal data for public good?

The Data Futures Partnership (DFP) is an independent advisory body tasked by the Government to draft guidelines for private and public organisations seeking to use people’s personal data. It is vital that these guidelines are informed by the views and comfort levels of the public. DFP partnered with Toi Āria to design a method of researching the parameters within which the public felt happy for the government to share data, and co-design a social licence for its use.

Toi Āria with the Data Futures Partnership, established Our Data, Our Way, an engagement programme involving 27 face-to-face workshops throughout New Zealand. A diverse sample of over 400 people participated in a game-based conversation to understand what was most important for the proposed guidelines to address.  These workshops and conversations were supported by an interactive online tool designed to inform, educate and capture data – it gained feedback from a further 4,000 New Zealanders.

Importantly, this was the first time New Zealanders had been given an opportunity to have their say on how their data is used and shared.

For both face-to-face and online applications Toi Āria designed a unique engagement process based around compelling and easy-to-understand data-use scenarios. These were applied interactively to understand people’s comfort levels and to assess how they weighed up trust and benefit where their personal information was concerned. The data use scenarios were co-designed by Toi Āria and the DFP to be relevant to a broad cross-section of New Zealanders, modelling three areas of direct interest to the government’s social investment programmes: health data, education data, and data gathered through the Internet of Things. The resulting guidelines (Path to Social Licence: Guidelines for Trusted Data Use, August 2017) were directly informed by New Zealanders’ feedback on these data use scenarios.

Through Our Data, Our Way Toi Āria has developed a unique engagement process based on social licence principles, which enables in-depth assessment of overall comfort with the use of personal information for specific data uses and contexts. The findings from this feedback provide a robust and qualitatively rich framework that decision-makers can use to ensure that their data initiatives and policies will meet the needs of the people who are most affected by them.




Toi Āria worked with the Masterton District Council on the development of a citizen-led design strategy that assisted in the public re-imagining of their Town Centre. We undertook this project in partnership with Letting Space, a Wellington-based national independent urban art and revitalisation programme.



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