New "front-of-house" changes at the Ministry for Social Development's service centre in Flaxmere, have been given a big thumbs-up following a presentation from Social Development Minister Carmen Sepuloni.

The $20,000 refit was part of a pilot scheme involving three other service centres around New Zealand - a scheme that would now be rolled out across the nation.

"The feedback that we have received from the people that have come through this office and the other pilot offices has been really positive," Sepuloni said.

The move was intended to introduce a different layout but a new culture to the ministry as a whole.


"It's not just this there's a whole lot of changes to the approach and training that's taking place with MSD case managers as well. The majority of whom do an awesome job but we have to nail it every time, one negative experience is one too many.

"If you treat people with respect and dignity and you provide an environment that's welcoming and warm, you can expect to be able to get the best out of our clients. We're here to provide the best service possible and to work with our clients so they can reach their potential and you can't do that if you're not providing the type of environment that makes them feel good about themselves."

The national roll-out would be done in line with work that was being carried out over the next few years.

Louise Davison, MSD senior service designer explains changes to Flaxmere's WINZ office. Photo / Duncan Brown.
Louise Davison, MSD senior service designer explains changes to Flaxmere's WINZ office. Photo / Duncan Brown.

MSD senior service designer Louise Davison the changes were carried out after speaking to local advocates and community groups, including some from the disability sector.

"We really wanted to know how they felt when they come into our service centres. We really wanted to understand what it meant for them and what they would like to see changed."

That resulted in changes to how waiting times were managed, access to water and a new children's area.

"One of the key things we heard was around atmosphere. A lot of our offices are quite white and sterile-looking and they wanted it brightened up. So we now have bright green walls. We also have more of a community lounge feeling."

The layout had also been changes in the layout to improve privacy for clients, and more art work to make people feel more relaxed.

A group of about 20 local community groups that work with MSD clients were invited to hear from the minister and MSD representatives praised the changes for "humanising the process".

Flaxmere MSD service centre manager Iwa Hamilton said the pilot scheme had been underway for about three months and had been well received.

"They like relaxing in the chairs and now the children have something to do because they used to run around. So, the tamariki come in and love it."