Economic and environmental concerns grow

Sense of community connection remains strong


The results of the second Tairāwhiti Wellbeing Survey are now online at

To better understand the wellbeing and needs of local communities, Trust Tairāwhiti captures and analyses comprehensive data through the annual Tairāwhiti Wellbeing Survey (TWS). This data is benchmarked against He Rangitapu He Tohu Ora, the Trust’s wellbeing framework, and is used to help inform the Trust’s operations and investment decisions. It’s also freely available as a resource for local and national organisations and communities.

“Once again there was strong uptake over eight weeks, with 833 weighted results. Thank you to everyone who took part in this important regional project,” said Trust Tairāwhiti Data and Information Lead Malcolm Mersham.

“The first wellbeing survey closed in December 2022, before Cyclone Gabrielle and other severe weather events hit the region. The 2023 survey was completed at the end of last year. So we were interested to see if this would result in any significant swings in sentiment about highly topical issues.

“The analysis paints a complex picture. While Tairāwhiti people express strong positive sentiment about social connections and community, significant challenges exist for the environment and in economic opportunity, housing affordability, and future outlook.

“The data reflecting knowledge, communities, relationships and cultural identity is largely tracking similarly year on year, but we are seeing notable shifts in how people are feeling about the economy (ōhanga) and environment (taiao).”

Across economic indicators, confidence is down markedly. For example, 36% say Tairāwhiti is not a good place to start or run a business, up from 24% in 2022, while 39% of people don’t believe Tairāwhiti has diverse employment opportunities, up from 29% the year before.

“Given what our region has been through in the last year, it’s not surprising that environmental and climate concerns have also risen sharply,” said Mr Mersham.

People are worried about the state of local rivers, lakes, beaches, land and soil, native bush and animals – more so than the rest of New Zealand.

When asked about the impact of climate change on Tairāwhiti and its residents, 73% of respondents said they are “worried” or “very worried”, a big jump from 56% in 2022.

In day-to-day life, 31% of the population feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods at night. Across a wide range of demographics, 42% of respondents have experienced discrimination – a drop from the previous year, but still well above the national average. Financial strain is clear, with 37% of the population having not enough or just enough money each month.

Only 23% of respondents think that Tairāwhiti is an attractive place for young people to live and work, down from 35% just a year ago.

Despite these and many other concerns, there are important positive aspects.

Residents report a strong sense of community, with social support in times of need remaining far better in Tairāwhiti than the national average. Te Reo proficiency is also significantly higher than the national average.

People in Tairāwhiti continue to have about average life satisfaction and sense of control over their lives, and 65% of the population believe Tairāwhiti is a great place to live.

Looking to the future:

  • 53% of respondents don’t believe our economy will be more diverse and resilient in the future. This is up from 41% in 2022.
  • 50% don’t think the natural environment will be healthier in the future, compared with 38% in 2022.
  • 41% of the population don’t believe whānau and families will have the resources they need to thrive in the future, compared with 32% in 2022.
  • 72% of the population don’t believe housing will be more affordable in the future.
  • Communities are concerned about their ability to have more influence on decision-making.


About the Tairāwhiti Wellbeing Survey

Statistics NZ already captures wellbeing data through their biannual NZ General Social Survey (NZGSS), but this data doesn’t accurately reflect our region due to the small sample size from Tairāwhiti.

The Tairāwhiti Wellbeing Survey is a condensed version of the NZGSS, with questions around life satisfaction, income, health, business opportunities, connectedness in the community and perceptions of the environment.

This is a longitudinal project, and has now been conducted two years in a row.

The results are available for everyone to access. The data dashboards allow users to filter out the data by survey area (coast, urban or country), gender, age group, ethnicity, employment status or iwi. Each data set is categorised under six muka (outcomes) as set out in He Rangitapu He Tohu Ora, the Trust’s wellbeing framework.

The Trust’s ultimate aspiration is to help enhance the collective wellbeing of Tairāwhiti, and having accurate data provides an essential foundation.


See the data dashboards