Our Voices

What is Our Voices?

Our Voices is an innovative project funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment through a five-year Endeavour Fund grant, working with Growing Up in New Zealand to develop ground-breaking ways of collecting longitudinal information as well as new ways of analysing information from young people so we can get a fuller picture about what shapes their wellbeing.  

We aim to better understand the diverse and complex journey our young people experience growing up in Aotearoa New Zealand by working with them to create a safe and open platform for them to share their stories and have their say.

Tō Mātou Rerenga - Our Journey 

Tō Mātou Rerenga – Our Journey is an innovative and interactive online app designed by some of the young people in Growing Up to be a fun, friendly, and secure environment to share their stories.   

Over the past two years, we have been working with young people and tech experts to create a unique digital experience to provide insight into the lived worlds of our young people that aligns with their ways of connecting. 

On a journey of discovery and exploration, young people in the Growing Up study will get the chance to navigate beautiful islands, meet new characters, unlock mini-games, and collect e-gifts along the way. Using this platform will provide rich information that will impact their communities, futures, and generations to come. 

What does the project involve?

The voice of our young people and their involvement at all stages of the co-design process was essential to the development and rollout of the app:

Co-design workshops  

In early 2021, a group of young people in the Growing Up study shared their insights and feedback to inform us about how they wanted to share their voices. Their contribution has been integral to the design of the concept, functionality, safety, and the type of questions contained in the app.    Learn more here. 

 App testing   

Another group of rangatahi tested the app providing ideas and feedback to further improve the styles, feel and usability. 

 App trial   

The app was trialled with the Leading Light group of Growing Up in New Zealand participants in 2022 who provided insightful feedback and suggestions, which have helped to make the app even better.  Learn more here.

The Tō Mātou Rerenga – Our Journey app is now ready to be rolled out in 2023 to all Growing Up in New Zealand  young people!

Until December 2023 participants will be able to access the app to share their ideas and experiences about wellbeing using a platform that was designed by young people, for young people. 

Why do you want to gather information in this way?

This project is breaking new ground by working with children directly to develop new technology that works for them. In doing so, we hope to gather information to better understand children’s experiences of the world.

Usually, researchers decide what questions are asked in longitudinal studies like Growing Up in New Zealand.  We wanted to hear directly from the children so that they could tell us what is important to measure.  This will help us get a better understanding of what wellbeing means to children, and what might help to build a better future for children and young people in Aotearoa, New Zealand

Involving the children in the co-design process means they have the opportunity to design the interface and dictate how they can engage with it to share their ideas and experiences.  As a result, we have a tool that is not only fun and easy to use, but also one that provides a window into children’s worlds.

What kind of information is being collected?

The young people in Growing Up in New Zealand have the opportunity to share information in a range of ways, including images, videos, audio and text in response to questions on a range of topics, including:

  • Personal and Cultural identity
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • Family / Whānau
  • School Environment and Experiences
  • Peers and Relationships
  • Belonging and Connections
  • Independence
  • Reflections and Aspirations

Questions have been framed in an open-ended way that enables the collection of rich qualitative information.

How will the information be analysed?

Growing Up in New Zealand and the Our Voices project are committed to enabling young people to express themselves in the way they feel most comfortable, and so we expect that the information we collect will be complex: potentially including photos, videos, voice recordings and text.  

 To analyse this complex information, the project is developing novel machine learning techniques that are appropriate for the New Zealand context.  

Using machine learning means we will be able to analyse large and complex sets of multi-modal information more rapidly so that the evidence that comes directly from the cohort themselves can be provided in a timely manner to inform well-being policy-decisions and future research.    

Will all Growing Up participants be involved in this project?

All our rangatahi in Growing Up in New Zealand have been given the opportunity to be involved and we are excited to have our young people participate and have their say!  

Invitations were sent out in July 2023, check your email for your personalised link! If there has been any change in your details, please let us know so we can reach you.