Vodafone Unwraps ‘Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer’ Digital Tool


The Vodafone Foundation is launching a new data-driven tool to help reduce youth disadvantage in Aotearoa and identify areas most in need, via the Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer.

This interactive digital tool draws on government data and allows users to gather precise population-level data. The Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer is designed to help guide investment decisions, and to enable organisations to better understand and advocate for young people and to enable systemic change.

Lani Evans, Head of the Vodafone Foundation explains: “Philanthropy is in the midst of a data revolution that could fuel a new wave of innovation and social change. But in order to use data in safe and effective ways, we need to understand how to apply a critical lens and data’s role within our work. We believe the Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer can help organisations to identify areas that would particularly benefit from support and help, to enable our young people to rise up and thrive – despite the adversities they face.”

Initial analysis of the first three years of data (2018, 2019, 2020) in the Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer has shown five emerging areas of interest.

Income inequality is a significant factor in exclusion and disadvantage. One in three young people (35%) who live in areas with high levels of material deprivation, experience exclusion and disadvantage – compared to one in ten (10%) young people living in affluent neighbourhoods.

Economic policy decisions can result in long-term, unintended consequences. The districts with the highest rates of exclusion and disadvantage are Kawerau (47%), Wairoa (39%) and Ruapehu (39%) – communities that have seen the closing of primary industries following economic policy changes.

Education matters. Fewer than 1% of excluded and disadvantaged young people go on to complete tertiary study in their early twenties.

Safety is critical. Data shows 42% of excluded and disadvantaged young people have been present during family violence call outs, compared to fewer than 1% of the non-excluded and disadvantaged population.

Structural inequalities underpin exclusion and disadvantage. Data shows 42% of rangatahi Māori are excluded and disadvantaged, compared to 17% of Pākehā.

Juliet Jones, Chair of the Vodafone Foundation, explains: “We have been developing the Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer over the past few years, and hope this robust tool will help to make a significant difference in identifying where organisations and government agencies can direct their efforts to create lasting and systemic change. Vodafone New Zealand, for example, will use the information in this tool to help guide our connectivity investments.”

The tool is a taonga the Vodafone Foundation is sharing with other organisations that are working to create better outcomes for rangatahi, they just need to register their interest and intend to use it in a way that benefits Aotearoa as a whole.

Jones adds: “Users can explore, for example, how young people living in Invercargill are faring in areas like education, health, housing, income, and employment. It can also tell us how often these rangatahi are interacting with protective services or the justice system; how they perceive their own level of wellbeing, their cultural identity, and their level of social connectedness.”

Reflecting the commitment of the Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation to Te Tirti o Waitangi, a Kaitiaki co-chair role will be established to enable the governance of the Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer.

In explaining the approach, Evans says: “We’ve developed a co-chair model as a pragmatic way to demonstrate our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and to include diversity of knowledge, cultural expertise, and professional expertise. We hope it will facilitate both an internal and external perspective, and smooths the transition of this mahi from a Vodafone Foundation project to a piece of work held by the community, for the benefit of the community.

“We have a goal at the Vodafone Foundation to halve the number of disadvantaged youth in Aotearoa by 2027, but we can’t do it alone. We hope this data-driven tool will help other organisations with their mahi also, so that together we can create long-lasting change for the generations to come.”

The Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer will be launched at an event at Parliament on Tuesday 11 May, where Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development, will be joined by Jason Paris, CEO of Vodafone New Zealand, and the Vodafone Foundation team and Board.