Vital Signs is a community check-up that reports on the social, environmental, cultural, and economic well-being of our communities, joining the dots between statistical information and what matters most to people living in our communities.

Ten themes will be examined in the 2016 report:

  • Children
  • Communities 
  • Culture and Arts
  • Economy
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Iwi Maaori Voices
  • Recreation
  • Youth Voices

Thirty four key indicators have been chosen to show the state or level of selected aspects of each of the themes.

The Vital Signs methodology was created in Canada by the Toronto Foundation in 2001, and today more than 75 communities around the world use Vital Signs reports as a tool to mobilise the power of community knowledge for greater local impact. Community foundations specifically use Vital Signs to start conversations, assisting communities to act on local priorities and opportunities, and consequently direct resources to create the most significant impact in the regions they operate. Vital Signs reports also enable community foundations to act as knowledge brokers, informing donors on how they can create the most significant impact with their gifts.

Momentum Waikato hopes the final report will:

  • strengthen our collective understanding of and connections within Waikato communities
  • inform and support decision-making by identifying and communicating key priorities and aspirations of Waikato communities
  • connect philanthropic and grant making organisations with those organisations that can address the key community needs and opportunities

Who is behind Waikato Vital Signs?

Waikato Vital Signs 2016 is being led by Momentum Waikato Community Foundation in partnership with six major Waikato philanthropic trusts: NAR Foundation; Trust Waikato; WEL Energy Trust; Waikato-Tainui; D.V. Bryant Trust and Ngati Haua Iwi Trust, along with the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), University of Waikato.

How is the Waikato Vital Signs Report created?

As a process, the Waikato Vital Signs partners engaged NIDEA to collate and analyse existing data across 34 indicators representing nine themes.

The NIDEA Waikato Vital Signs Consultancy Report itself is extremely informative, however the final Waikato Vital Signs report will also reflect community priorities, local stories, and responses to the NIDEA report from people across the Waikato who attend the community engagement sessions during May 2016.

What is the purpose of engaging with the community – why not just publish the statistical analysis?

Statistics on their own are important, but are an insufficient source of information.  Even by putting some analysis around statistics, we are still not telling a full story.  Engaging with communities helps to create meaning, telling narratives of a place, and capturing the communities’ views on its strengths and challenges. By having local conversations we hope to:

  • supplement the statistics with meaningful, compelling and relevant experiences and learning
  • hear stories that add a qualitative outlook to the more quantitative nature of the statistics
  • understand the priorities of the communities we engage with
  • facilitate and encourage discussions which represent diverse perspectives
  • build relationships within our community that are ongoing beyond the initial Waikato Vital Signs engagements

Why have the partners chosen Matamata-Piako District, Hamilton City, and Waikato District for the pilot of the first Waikato Vital Signs 2016?

Momentum Waikato and its partners decided to do the initial 2016 project as a pilot to enable us to fully develop our processes for the long term. We chose to focus on three initial territorial authorities in the greater Waikato region for 2016: Waikato District; Hamilton City and Matamata-Piako District.  These three regions were chosen because they offered a diverse mix of rural and urban economies across a range of demographic characteristics.

The partners recognise that young people typically engage with information and with each other differently. The youth engagement sessions are designed to clearly capture youth views, as well as to reflect their ways of working together. Effective engagement with Iwi Māori is also an important aspect of Waikato Vital Signs. A targeted Iwi Māori engagement session has been planned to ensure optimum participation. We expect that youth and Iwi Māori will be well represented at the public engagement sessions as well.

Hasn’t this been done before? What’s new? What makes it different to other reports?

The strength of Waikato Vital Signs lies in engaging communities around evidence-based trends, and using quantitative information as a starting point to engage in a meaningful dialogue with members of the community about their wellbeing, priorities, aspirations and needs.

Momentum Waikato is the second community foundation in New Zealand to introduce the Vital Signs tool. In 2015, the Bay of Plenty’s Acorn Foundation published the first Vital Signs report.

Is this just a one-off thing?

No – it is anticipated that Waikato Vital Signs will be published as a report every four years. It is also intended to include other territorial authorities in the greater Waikato region in the next and all future reports.