Past projects

Read about some of our past projects including changing behaviour around waste minimisation, measuring the effectiveness of responses to family violence, and Māori community development with Hauora Hokianga.

Beyond Behaviour Change for waste minimisation

Complex problems demand new ways of problem-solving. We approached the complex problem of an ever-increasing waste mountain by conducting a realist review of waste interventions in Aotearoa New Zealand, looking for what worked, in which contexts, and for whom. This led to a programme theory with four interlinked propositions, explaining the mechanisms for a system change from managing waste to minimising it.

Following on from the realist review, we developed a causal loop diagram (a systems thinking tool) which shows how the waste system is complex and embedded within our socio-economic system. We identified some leverage points - places where actions might produce large changes in the operation of the waste system.

The combination of realistic review and causal loop diagramming reinforced that holistic waste minimisation strategies in Aotearoa should be embedded in indigenous worldviews, use whole system approaches, and include both practical and emergent strategies. Courageous systems leadership is required to navigate a sustainable shift towards waste minimisation.

Read the report: Towards waste minimisation in Aotearoa New Zealand: A realist review and systemic analysis of waste interventions
(external link)

Hear from ESR Social Scientist, Suzanne Manning. 

A Critical Collaboration Model for Public and Environmental Health

Public health personnel work collaboratively with a range of organisations to support health through prevention. However, working with organisations that do not have health as their core business presents challenges for achieving health impact.

In three case studies we explored how public health personal have influenced decisions of non-health organisations through expert advice, to identify a number of principles for this type of engagement. A Critical Collaboration Model(external link) was developed to support future collaboration.

Understanding the knowledge and perspective of the people in non-health organisations is fundamental to ensuring public health personal engage in a way that enhances the credibility, saliency and legitimacy of their advice.  

Testing the Collective Action Model for fire reduction

This research was commissioned by Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) as a follow-up to research conducted by ESR in 2016. That research sought to better understand barriers preventing lifestyle block owners (LBOs) from accepting wildfire risk and making changes to reduce that risk. A prototype tool was designed to support a collective action approach to reducing wildfire risk among LBOs. The follow-up research refined and tested the prototype tool (the Collective Action Model [CAM]) in preparation for the tool being deployed more widely.

Māori Community Development with Hauora Hokianga

ESR Social Systems team has a long-standing research partnership with the community/hapū development unit of Hauora Hokianga. Research from 2001 has spanned several environmental health projects including:

Examining the role that tino rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga played in the success of the Ministry of Health funded Ngā Puna Wai o Hokianga (safe drinking water) pilot project

Developing a ‘roadmap’ that bridged technical and cultural understandings of marae onsite wastewater disposal

Development of a bicultural framework to support improvements in drinking water policy and programme development for Māori communities

The examination of effective Hokianga hapū engagement with the Drinking Water Assistance Programme to develop a plan to deliver safe drinking water in the future.

Outputs from this research can be found here(external link)


Measuring the effectiveness of whole-of-system response to prevent family violence

Preventing family violence is one society’s most complex problems, and the ESR Social System Team worked in partnership with the University of Canterbury’s family violence experts to scope a systems-based measurement methodology for effectiveness of a systems approach to preventing family violence.

The report was provided for Superu, a former government agency that focused on research and advocacy for improving the wellbeing of families, children and whānau. It has recently been included as resource material for developing Te Aorerekura, the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence(external link).

Read more about ESR’s report(external link).