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OHI Data Navigator - Towards a More Equitable Aotearoa

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

In light of the recent rebrand of the OHI Data Navigator (previously Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer), it’s a great time to reflect on some of the awesome mahi done to date.

In 2018 we partnered with our friends at Te Rourou, Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation, along with the Centre for Social Impact, and Deloitte, to help deliver their vision: An Aotearoa where all young people have access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive. In support of this vision, Te Rourou had the goal of halving the number of excluded and disadvantaged rangatahi in Aotearoa by 2027.

Our work towards this vision and goal led to the development of the OHI Data Navigator, an interactive dashboard that provides insights into the experiences, opportunities and challenges faced by rangatahi in our communities. OHI Data Navigator takes complex wellbeing data and organises it in a way that is accessible and useful to those working towards better outcomes for our rangatahi.

Drawing from data that comes from sources such as the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), users can explore data from a local community level all the way up to a national level. This granularity enables users to gain insight into the unique lived experiences of rangatahi specific to their community. By providing this data in a more democratic way, the Data Navigator empowers communities to make decisions about policies and initiatives that will support the needs and aspirations of their rangatahi.

It’s been a journey to get OHI Data Navigator to where it is today, and we’ve broken down a few key milestones and features that make this tool so awesome.

Early phases

As mentioned, we partnered with Te Rourou in 2018 to support this mahi. First, with the goal of halving the number of rangatahi experiencing exclusion and disadvantage by 2027 in mind, we needed to understand what exclusion and disadvantage looked like for young people in Aotearoa. This meant we needed data – lots of data!

Guided by literature on the factors that put young people at risk of facing exclusion and disadvantage, we looked at the experiences young people face in areas such as education, employment, healthcare and justice, and how these experiences impact young people’s outcomes later in life.

We then researched and explored available data in the IDI, which helped us understand how to define, measure, and monitor exclusion and disadvantage experiences of rangatahi. From here, we brought together administrative and survey data in the IDI to paint a picture of how exclusion and disadvantage impacts rangatahi across different locations, life stages, and demographics.

The first prototype of the OHI Data Navigator was originally created so Te Rourou could easily interact with the data we had gathered; however, it quickly became clear that this tool would be useful to groups and organisations that work directly with rangatahi. With access to this data, organisations could get a clearer picture of the unique needs and challenges of rangatahi in their community and work out how best support them to thrive. Together with Te Rourou we decided to develop this prototype into a publicly available tool which could be used directly by people, groups and organizations who are working towards better outcomes for rangatahi in Aotearoa.

(This move towards democratising this data led to some awesome recognition – find out more below!)

Community Engagement

To make sure we were presenting useful data in a way that upholds the mana of young people, we wanted to understand the potential users of this tool. From the very beginning, we believed it was important to genuinely engage with the groups, organisations and communities that would be impacted by this tool. What are their needs and aspirations? How could a tool like this support rangatahi in their community?

We travelled across the country to regions including Te Tai Tokerau (Northland), Kapiti and Horowhenua, Porirua, and Murihiku (Southland). We consulted community groups and Māori organisations to understand what data needs they have and how a tool like this might be useful.

Considering we were using government data, we knew it was important to engage with Māori organisations from the start. We wanted to recognise Māori rights and interests over the use of their own data and ensure that we engaged with data in a way that enhances the wellbeing of tangata whenua, te reo Māori and te ao Māori.

By talking to these different groups, we learned that the amount of data communities could access about themselves varied. Some communities lacked the data required to get an accurate understanding of the needs of rangatahi in their area. This was especially true for smaller communities that might get lumped in with larger or more affluent areas in data. For these places, having access to more granular data would allow them to identify the pockets of their community which could benefit from more support.

Through these discussions, we were able to understand how to create a tool that was not just useful, but aligned with the values, needs and aspirations of the communities we engaged with.

Māori Data Sovereignty & Safe Use Principles

We thought long and hard about how to centre the needs and aspirations of rangatahi and communities in this work. Part of this meant figuring out how to work with data in a way that upholds the mana of the young people and communities this data came from.

Working with government data, such as the IDI, comes with inherent challenges. Historically, the collection and use of this data has reflected the values and priorities of the government rather than those of the communities from where data is collected. This is particularly true for Māori and Māori data. As this project relies heavily on government data, we wanted to ensure that our use and application of this data did not reinforce the impacts of colonisation, systemic racism and other harms. Instead, we wanted to work with data in a way that affirmed the autonomy, worldview, and aspirations of the communities whose data we are working with.

With OHI Data Navigator, five pou (pillars) guide our approach to Māori Data Sovereignty and the safe use of data. These pou draw from frameworks developed by indigenous people from Aotearoa.

These pou are:

To learn more, you can read the OHI Data Principles Document which covers these pou in more detail:

Ohi - Data Principles Document 23-05-22
Download PDF • 116KB

These pou guide our decisions around how we handle data and help us think about who we should engage with at every stage. Some of the key decisions these pou have influenced include:

  • Engaging with Māori organisations and other potential users of the tool from the beginning of the project and throughout.

  • Limiting use of the tool to groups and organisations who work to support better outcomes for rangatahi. (This ensures that use of this data stays aligned with the interests and aspirations of the communities this data came from.)

  • Taking a strengths-based, whole-of-person lens to rangatahi and their data.

  • Staying conscious of the impacts of colonisation and systemic racism in the way we approach data from a collection, interpretation and use perspective.

  • Establishing a co-governance model for the administration of the tool. (Te Rourou and Māori are working together as kaipupuri to administer the tool, making sure that use is consistent with the interests of rangatahi, whānau and communities.)

These pou have been crucial to this project’s success. They have helped us think critically and carefully about how to work with data in a way that centres the needs, priorities, and aspirations of rangatahi and their communities

User-friendly Dashboard

As many of the people who use OHI Data Navigator are not data specialists, we wanted the tool to be as easy to use as possible. That is why we designed the dashboard with several features that make navigating information straightforward and simple.

The dashboard visualizes complex data with simple, user-friendly graphics. Through these visualizations users can understand at a glance who the rangatahi in their community are and how they are faring across several areas of wellbeing.

We included several search filters that allow people accessing the tool to focus on the populations and communities that are most relevant to them. The tool is capable of filtering data geographically, with the option to view data at a local, regional, and national level. People using OHI Data Navigator can also filter data by age, ethnicity, and level of exclusion and disadvantage. The tool is also capable of generating print-out reports that summarise key insights from any given search of the data based on filters applied.

By keeping it simple, more people can access and make positive use of OHI Data Navigator.

Impact and Recognition

The OHI Data Navigator has a diverse range of users from local community groups and social service providers to smaller government agencies. We are excited to see how these groups will put this data into action and the impact this will have for the rangatahi of Aotearoa

OHI Data Navigator is also being recognised. Earlier this year, the OHI Data Navigator was selected as the winner of the 2022 IDC Smart City Asia/Pacific Awards in the Public Health and Social Services category. For its contribution to data democratisation, this work was recognised at the 2021 New Zealand Open Source Awards when it took out the People’s Choice Award (which was decided through a public vote).

Our work on this project is ongoing. Future plans include continuing to update the tool with new data and to incorporating data from different sources. We are also working alongside Te Rourou to develop workshops to help people learn how to use the tool, interpret data and share data in a way that aligns with Māori Data Sovereignty & safe use principles.

By connecting communities with data about themselves, OHI is a powerful tool for guiding decision making, research and community initiatives. We look forward to continuing to develop this work and seeing the positive impact that this tool will have on the lives of rangatahi, whānau and communities across Aotearoa.

To access the OHI Data Navigator, click here. To learn more about this mahi or the other awesome work we do at Nicholson Consulting, get in touch by emailing

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