Co-designing with Te Whānau o Waipareira

When it comes to supporting whānau in West Auckland, Te Whānau o Waipareira’s frontline kaimahi (workers) know what works better than anyone. 

When Te Whānau o Waipareira set out on a new project to replicate this knowledge using data science techniques and turn it into a support system to help Māori whānau choose the priority pathways that work best for them, it was important that co-design was placed front and centre in the design process.

By Māori, for Māori

Co-design is an approach used to design solutions to problems or opportunities, where community members whom the solution will benefit are treated as equal collaborators in the design process.

A partnership between Te Whānau o Waipareira and Precision Driven Health (PDH) is demonstrating co-design at work, and showing the importance of including Māori perspectives throughout research and development.

The two organisations have worked together to undertake the Best Practice Pathways to Achieve Priority Outcomes for Whānau project, with PDH providing support to Te Whānau o Waipareira’s work researching an appropriate artificial intelligence (AI) solution – also known as ‘Whānau Like Us’.

Alana Harris, Te Whānau o Waipareira’s Measurement, Insights & Impact Manager, says her organisation employs a ‘by Māori, for Māori’ approach, and “always works in a codesign, kaupapa Māori way.”

“We’ve got this big theme in our future – Whānau should go shopping for outcomes. They should be able to self-determine what they want, when they want, how they want it, and we work with them on that. An aspirational focus towards positive enduring change is what it’s about!”

Alana Harris
Measurement, insights & Impact Manager
Te Whānau o waipareira

“We talk about by Māori, for Māori quite a bit at Te Whānau o Waipareira… [PDH has] been forever saying ‘whatever you think is going to work to get the message across for your purposes. That’s what we want. That’s what we want to support.’”

Seeking views from kaimahi

When looking at the data collection used for the AI prediction model, Alana says that from early on in the project it was clear that involving whānau and kaimahi alongside Te Whānau o Waipareira and PDH was essential.

“Our kaimahi know our services and how to work best with Whānau intuitively, so how do we take that knowledge and simulate that into technology to create efficiencies and greater value for kaimahi and whānau?”

“We’re always engaging with our whānau, and more so our kaimahi because they’re the ones that are often the voice for whānau. We needed all their voices in designing this work.”

The resulting AI prediction model that eventuates from this co-designed research will be developed to predict priority outcomes for new and existing whānau, and the best course of action to achieve these, based on past experiences of whānau. The AI can also help kaimahi understand what other options their colleagues suggest that they may not be aware of.

The link between attributes and outcomes

Through co-designing this research programme, Te Whānau o Waipareira hopes to be able to identify shared attributes amongst its whānau, and link these to outcomes which can help other whānau.

Alana says: “The next phase for this work is around predicting the outcomes for whānau, and building a type of tool that can support our front line kaimahi to use the predictive modelling to help guide and suggest options. Telling them ‘hey, did you know that other whānau in your area like you want these types of outcomes, is that something you’re also interested in?’”

“But we also want to extend that beyond addressing immediate needs to the longer-term aspirational space. After their immediate need is fulfilled, we can talk about other goals and outcomes that will contribute to enduring change across current and future generations, for example getting a career or job that’s going to be fulfilling and aligns to their passion, or even starting a business… We want to be able to provide all these options.

“Future state, I think it could even be the point where whānau can have an app where they ask ‘I think I need help with this’ and something pops up and says, ‘This is the sort of thing that [Waipareira does]’ and they can say ‘cool, I want that.’”