New Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni wants to change the culture of Winz, and came to Whanganui to talk about it.

She visited Jigsaw Whanganui as part of a visit to the city on Thursday.

"We found her very connected to the real experiences of people on the ground and genuinely interested and very well informed," Jigsaw executive officer Tim Metcalfe said.

It was Sepuloni's first visit to Whanganui and she began it by meeting with iwi and social agencies at Cooks Gardens, to build trust and to talk about how information from their clients is used.


It was one of 28 consultation hui on the subject.

The previous Government based funding for agencies on whether they collected and shared information about clients, a "data-for-funding regime". It wanted to calculate the cost of interventions by the state.

The Privacy Commissioner has said being asked for such information will put people off accepting agency upport.

"We are not running a 'data-for-funding' regime. Instead we are sitting down with the social sector to discuss how we use information safely," Sepuloni said.

The new Government still needed to collect information, in order to make decisions about services. It would need to be careful to protect "individual client-level data".

Sepuloni is conducting a major review into the welfare system. She wants to change the culture of Work and Income NZ (Winz), and Jigsaw wants to contribute information.

Staff told her their clients' experiences with Winz were "mixed". Sepuloni asked them to give her office examples of people being treated "respectfully".

Metcalf told her Whanganui agencies shared information well at intersector case management meetings but not so well at "top-down" forums driven by central government.


"We've got some good examples of initiatives under way at the moment, working from the ground up."

He also briefed her on the family violence death review report published in 2016, which he believes should be compulsary reading for every MP. It is about how violence between partners affects children's long-term wellbeing.