Between 18 and 31 October 2018, 267 people contributed their perspectives, insights and experiences of the welfare system through a 17-question online survey hosted by ActionStation.  

Of the people who contributed:

38 percent are currently on a benefit (102 people) 31 percent have been on a benefit (84 people) 14 percent have not been on a benefit (37 people) 10 percent work with people on benefits (28 people) 6 percent have someone close to them on a benefit (16 people)
72 percent female 26 percent male 2 percent prefer not to say or are gender diverse  81 percent Pākehā  19 percent Māori 3 percent Pasifika 3 percent Other 2 percent Asian

The youngest contributor was 23, the oldest was 93.

Of those who contributed and had first-hand experience of the welfare system:  Four out of five had negative experiences.  84 percent of people said they do not currently receive enough income to live with dignity and participate fully in the community. 70 percent experienced a lack of transparency and access to information, particularly about their rights.  64 percent experienced a lack of care or compassion from WINZ staff.  63 percent had experienced feelings of judgment or stigma from the public. 54 percent experienced long waiting lists or difficulties finding a suitable time with a case worker.
When asked what needs to be done better, six themes emerged:  Staff and services need to treat people with manaaki, respect, compassion and aroha. Everyone who interacts with the welfare system should have access to the correct information and advice. Everyone who engages with welfare services should fully understand their rights.  People need more money. Most simply do not have enough.  The government needs to stop all punitive and harmful sanctions.  People should not be forced into inappropriate work, punished for being in relationships or discouraged from finding additional income through secondary tax.  We must ensure everyone has an affordable, warm, dry and safe home as well as enough income to live with dignity and participate fully in the community.

When asked what an additional $72.50 per week would do for the respondents and their whānau, they said it would help with:



  • Doctors appointments

  • Medication

  • Dentist work


  • Fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Personal hygiene products

  • Clothing

  • Transport



  • Tuition for the kids

  • Study

  • Travel to free courses to up-skill


  • Activities for the kids

  • Church

  • School holidays


When asked which values should underpin our welfare system, contributors said:

  1. Compassion, empathy, aroha.

  2. Respect and dignity.

  3. Care, kindness and help.

  4. Equality and fairness.

  5. Understanding, acceptance and trust

  6. Honesty, integrity and transparency.

  7. Embracing of community, whakawhanaungatanga and diversity.

  8. Uplifting, people-centred, kind.

  9. Honouring of Tiriti o Waitangi.

  10. Non-judgemental.

The values are listed in the order they appeared most.