Ka rere, ka rere: becoming OHI Data Navigator

Mā te huruhuru ka rere te manu. Adorn the bird with feathers so it may soar.

Data is incredibly useful. It helps us tell stories, measure change, identify patterns and make decisions. At Te Rourou we believe OHI Data Navigator is a great example of this – a tool that provides accessible, relevant data that can shape advocacy, service provision, understanding, and outcomes for rangatahi (young people) in Aotearoa. It’s a project that we have been developing since 2018, and one we’re incredibly proud of. So, how did it come about?

Te Rourou launched in 2002 and has been focused on supporting better outcomes for young people since 2007. In 2017, we launched a bold new strategy, with the goal of halving the number of young people experiencing exclusion and disadvantage in New Zealand within 10 years. This audacious goal required us to better define exclusion and disadvantage; and to explore the question “how will we know when we get there?”.

Our goal was informed by a literature review, our own experiences, insights from community partners, and a 2016 Treasury report entitled Characteristics of Children and Young People at Risk. This report was based on information collected from a number of sectors, including education, social welfare and justice, as well as Statistics NZ surveys. Its findings and methodologies (both those we liked, and those we didn’t) underpinned and informed much of our subsequent work.

We engaged Deloitte, Nicholson Consulting, and the Centre for Social Impact to help us explore how we could use data, literature, and the voices of lived experience to understand the challenge and track changes over time. For three years, we worked together to explore different tools and frameworks before landing on a free, publicly available, data-based solution – OHI Data Navigator.

What we wanted to create was a tool that would generate impacts across the system. We wanted to democratise access to information, shape a strengths-based narrative from administrative data, influence government and philanthropic investment, and inform the development of services for young people.

In 2021, the data platform achieved MVP status (minimum viable product) – incomplete, but good enough to share. We established an independent Steering Group, published a report based on data insights, hired a project manager and launched the tool publicly at parliament. Since then, OHI Data Navigator has gone from strength to strength, developing its own strategy and identity, engaging with users and the broader community, and working to embed the principles of Māori Data Sovereignty.

We think there is so much potential in the information OHI Data Navigator offers. That’s why we’ve committed to operating as an umbrella for this work until 2027. It is our hope that, over the next few years, the tool will develop a life of its own, embed its usefulness in the sector and create significant contribution above and beyond the needs of Te Rourou. Our job has been to build the foundations of a tool. We’ve cloaked OHI Data Navigator with the resources it needs to start flying. Now it’s our job to step back to let it soar and see how it grows and serves community.