Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu - view of the main street in Ohakune
Project management

Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu – Making better decisions using data and community experience

Psoda blog author avatar
16 November 2022

Making life changing decisions for your community is never easy, but when you rely on data that isn’t fit for purpose the challenge is magnitudes harder.

This was the problem Ruapehu District Council was facing. Good decisions rely on good data, so the Council commissioned the Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu study.


Ruapehu District Council has long been aware that their community’s data has been overshadowed by the wider district, and specific local needs and knowledge have been lost in the noise of the wider population.

Resources were not being allocated to the communities that desperately needed them and the suffering within the district was being hidden.

The Council wasn’t prepared to let the status quo remain unchallenged. This resulted in the “Living in Ruapehu” (Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu) study to redress the balance and ensure that they had rich, real life data specific to the Rohe.

The project

The original purpose of the study was to conduct a deep analysis of the challenges faced by the Ruapehu District population. This would give the Council a better understanding of the specific needs of the community and help Council develop work that would increase the quality of life for everyone in the District.

The study focused on seven key areas:

  • housing
  • health
  • education
  • employment
  • environment
  • economy
  • social wellbeing

Council worked with the Ministry of Social Development, Dot Loves Data and Datacom to gather both quantitative and qualitative data.

As each focus area has multiple challenges, it was important that all avenues of data collection were included. Partnering with other organisations meant that the study could combine official statistics with real community stories.

It quickly became clear that the study couldn’t be a one off exercise. To ensure that it lived up to its promise and became a well utilised resource, it needed to be live.


The result of all this hard work is a live, up to date, easily accessible web portal.

Pūwhenua ki Ruapehu has already facilitated productive meetings with Council, NGOs, government agencies and other key stakeholders where actionable plans have been made to deliver services and support to the areas with the greatest needs.

Instead of being merely an observer, Council is now at the heart of community development and wellbeing for the entire District.

The awards

Award winners will be announced during the ALGIM 2022 conference in Christchurch.

Other finalists

Find out about the other finalists:

Nelson City Council

Auckland Council

Rhona Aylward avatar
Written by Rhona Aylward
Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

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