Our Initiatives from 2013 to 2017

Since 2013, we have experimented with a range of approaches to improving youth wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Here we have listed a selection of our initiatives, starting with the most recent. We have open-sourced all our work, so please feel free to use the resources and approaches in your own work alongside young people.

Ormiston Junior College Wellbeing Collaboration

Lifehack was proud to partner with Ormiston Junior College (OJC), Changing Minds and Auckland Council Libraries to co-host this project which focussed on young people developing skill and agency to positively influence structures of wellbeing at their school and in their wider communities. This project took place between October 2016 and October 2017.

You can access resources from this collaboration in the links below:

  • Read about how the collaboration came to be here
  • Download lesson plans and printables here and here
  • Download the full impact report here

The Codesign for Youth Wellbeing Symposium

The Co-design for Youth Wellbeing Symposium brought together over 150 people from around Aoteroa New Zealand to share knowledge and opportunities for co-designing alongside young people.

The air was buzzing from the moment Josh, Ben and the students from Te Kura Tuarua o Taraika ki Pukeahu (Wellington High School) put out their wero (challenge):

"Today is not just about remembering lessons from past, but looking forward to the future where we can build our relationships."

"The true sign of success will be how you take these learnings back into your communities, your rangatahi and your whānau."

We've pulled together all the resources from the day in the list below:

  • Youtube playlist of recorded plenary sessions
  • Download session-specific resources from the action stories & bus stops here
  • Check out LoLI's illustrative summary of the day on Facebook
  • Read more about the people who hosted a session here
  • Download the discussion cards (12 questions about codesign) here

Head over to lifehackhq.co/symposium for more information about this event and if you want to build on the energy and inspiration of the Symposium, then keep your ears on alert for news about Ara Taiohi's 2018's INVOLVE Conference.

2017 Flourishing Fellowship

The 2017 Flourishing Fellowship was the third iteration of our flagship professional development programme. Its aim was to amplify the impact of people working to improve youth wellbeing.

Listed below are the published media about the development of the 2017 programme:

Click here to be taken to the resources page which includes all the workshops, plans and downloadable resources used in the 2015, 2016 & 2017 Fellowship programmes.

You can also read about the early-stage impacts of the 2017 Fellowship in our Impact Report, written in collaboration with Angelique Pratt from the Ripple Collective.

Online Ako: fostering a community of mutual learning

After deciding that venture support was too narrow in focus, we decided to run online ako sessions (te reo Māori for teaching and learning). You can read more about the development behind this as a community intervention here. Topics so far have included the Social Lean Canvas, working bi-culturally in Aotearoa New Zealand and working with LGBTQI communities.

Here's a blog post that articulates how we co-designed these learning sessions based on a few workshops with the Fellows and the team at RainbowYOUTH Tauranga.

Social Lean Canvas

Upper Hutt—Oro: a local community intervention

Oro was our Upper Hutt-based programme and a hyperlocal and condensed version of the Flourishing Fellowship. The part-time nature of the programme combined the lessons from the Fellowship with previous interventions, like the Lifehack Weekends, to inject energy into some early stage initiatives with the view to creating long-term impact. So far, it's resulted in Kickstart Coffee, a youth barista training/coffee-cart social enterprise, a collaboration between Upper Hutt City Council and the Upper Hutt Community Youth Trust to produce Spearhead Leaders, a youth action-learning and leadership programme, and pushed forward Whakamanatia, a resilience programme for members of the LGBTQI community and their whānau. 

It brought together members of the community from across the system: young people, youth workers, policy workers, Council staff, training organisations and more. We're currently in the process of finalising the evaluation.


  • You can find a summary video here and the young people's reflection here.
  • Here's a great blog post on meaningful codesign by some participating youth workers
  • reflection by the director of community services from Upper Hutt City Council on his take on codesign.
  • Final celebration evening, write-up of the Weekend Event, summing up the early weeks of the programme
  • Summary of what the Oro programme design is based on and a research write-up of a kōrero with the folks from Good Work Institute who run locally-focussed programmes in New York's Hudson Valley.

The local community are also getting ready to run their own Lifehack Weekend, supported by the Lifehack team.


Flourishing Fellowship 2016, a second iteration

The 2016 Flourishing Fellowship was our second iteration. What we learnt from running the programme again is that it was most engaging to those who had practical opportunities to apply their new learnings and skills in a youth wellbeing context. We worked with Thicket Labs for the evaluation of the programme. Here's a link to the video of the 2016 Fellowship.

What we learnt from running the Fellowship a second time around, is that the programme proved more engaging to those who had existing opportunities to apply the lessons and experience to a youth wellbeing context. It shifted the focus of the Fellowship explicitly towards becoming a professional development programme for the youth workforce.

Reflections of the Fellowship by George Gribbin here and Carolyn Taueki-Stott here.

Working with Sovereign Insurance and Youthline Manukau to improve volunteer retention

Working with Sovereign Insurance and their community partner Youthline, we worked with the Youthline Manukau branch to increase their volunteer numbers and improve retention. Six months on, volunteer numbers increased four-fold. In this post, Sovereign's Clark Todd (then the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility) reflects here on the importance of trust when working together. Ngā Uri Ō, a social process tool for coming together as diverse groups, developed out of this project.

There's more about the initiative on the Sovereign website, including an evaluation report and a video about the project.

Working with Sovereign and Youthline allowed us to build on an existing relationship between the two organisations. It brought together the Sovereign business acumen with the depth of youth- and social-work experience, allowing each of the organisations to build on each other's expertise. This project demonstrated the power of a high-energy event (a two-day workshop) paired with some follow-up workshops to sustain excitement—to making an impact in the lives of young people by increasing the numbers of volunteers committed to being phone and text counsellors.

Venture support: coaching and supporting wellbeing initiatives

Off the back of Lifehack Labs we coached the ventures that came out of the programme. This included weekly calls, content sessions and networking opportunities for the folks behind the ventures.

During an analysis of the value that we delivered to the ventures, we realised that much of the support could be led on a peer basis: generating ideas, solving problems, figuring out next steps, solving team issues etc. For some expertise-driven topics, peer-led support wouldn't suffice (as per their suggestions), so we started Ako (mutual teaching and learning) in an online environment. So far, we have run them on the Social Lean Canvas, working bi-culturally, working with people from the LGBTQI community and more.

Te Kōanga, a four-week venture acceleration programme

Te Kōanga was a four-week venture acceleration programme. Working with three existing youth- and wellbeing projects from the Lifehack community we led a design-centric business and product design programme to further their work.

This short-term programme was an experiment in how much can be done in as little time as possible, with four days of contact time across four weeks, in addition to the teams working on their projects in their own time. It showed us that having a dedicated space to work through tailored and co-designed content allows us to accelerate the pace at which interventions are developed, if whanaungatanga between participants and facilitators already exists.

Massey Everyday Wellbeing Design Challenge

The Wellbeing Design Challenge was a multi-week initiative hosted with Massey University's College of the Creative Arts. We took their design students through a process focussing on designing Everyday Wellbeing interventions.

The report can be found here. In addition to this, we created a facilitator's guide and worksheets for those interested in running a similar process.

Running this process with 160 Massey students demonstrated to us that merely having a wellbeing-focussed process is a wellbeing intervention in itself, leaving participants to question their personal approaches to personal wellbeing practices and needs.

Flourishing Fellowship, the first one

2015 was the first year we ran a Flourishing Fellowship, based on the learnings from previous programmes like Lifehack Labs. We wrote a report about the programme itself, as well as a guide on how we codesign the programme. This goes alongside the video which explains the process that supports the programme.

Given the insight we gained from Labs (too long for personal development, too short for venture development; too intense for the team to run sustainably), we decided to focus on the personal development side of things. To increase impact and accessibility we decided to design this initiative as a part-time programme with intense residential hui at the beginning, middle and end interspersed with online challenges. It demonstrated to us the importance of kanohi ki te kanohi (face-to-face) time, a deep focus on whanaungatanga, and the space (physically and conceptually) to ask hard questions about our ways of looking at the world, investigating our personal theories of change, discussing colonisation and other systemic issues Aotearoa New Zealand faces.

Investigating the role of Youth Civics for MYD

Over the course of June 2015, the Lifehack team undertook a participatory approach to investigating the status of youth civic engagement in Aotearoa New Zealand from young people’s perspectives around the topics of voice, voting and volunteering.

We learnt from this initiative the importance of having korero with people who we already knew, or at least having someone who trusts us to gather the young people they work with—from young people at Vibe, Capital Wolves Volleyball and Northland College. It was also a major foray into the area of youth voice, bringing to life the importance of accurate representation of young people's input to people in power.

Lifehack Labs, a five week social innovation programme

Lifehack Labs was our five week immersive and residential flagship programme of 2014. 20 participants joined us to learn about themselves and their communities to develop potential approaches to some of the challenges people were experiencing. There's the programme report itself, the impact report and the Labs Handbook (process-oriented). There's also a video documentary.

What we learnt from this five-week programme is that it was too long for a personal development programme, and too short for a venture-development one. It proved useful to invite people without a clear project in mind, giving them the space, resource and inspiration to work out what they'd like to focus on. It also highlighted the importance of whanaungantanga, which we weaved into the programme through a five-day marae stay to kick things off, and continued exercises that built on furthering those relationships.

Lifehack Weekends, the overview

Since the beginning of 2014, we've run Lifehack Weekends in various parts of the country, including Christchurch, Greymouth, Invercargill, Wellington, Lower Hutt, Nelson and Upper Hutt. You can find the summary report here.


The initial event structure was based on Good For Nothing's social enterprise hackathons. We quickly learnt that the format needed to adjusted to reflect our indigenous and cultural processes such as having ample space for whanaungatanga before getting started on the projects. We trialled different formats, from 2.5 days to two days, residential stays, smaller groups of twelve and large groups of 50.