Policy Summary

This is a 2-page summary of the Policy for people who work in positions of management or leadership of frontline teams and units:

Policy Summary - Frontline Leaders

As a manager or leader you can role-model the Policy principles and keep the focus of collecting or using people’s data or information clearly on He tāngata. Help to create a culture of Manaakitanga and Mana whakahaere where the information and data that people share is cared for in a respectful, trusted and transparent way.

When the Policy talks about “data and information” it means any data or information, from or about, service users, their whanau, or communities. For example someone's phone number, an assessment record, or an excel spreadsheet that shows the age, gender and length of time people were involved with a service.

The Policy Principles

The Policy Principles are values and behaviours that underpin respectful, transparent and trusted use of data and information across the social sector:

He tāngata - Improve outcomes for service users, whānau and communities..

Manaakitanga - Uphold the mana and dignity of those who share their data and information.

Mana whakahaere - Empower people – include them and enable their choices.

Kaitiakitanga - Act as a steward in a way that’s transparent, understood and trusted.

Mahitahitanga - Work as equals to create and share valuable knowledge.

You can find the full versions of the Principles here.

Be transparent with service users…

Help people understand about the collection and use of their data or information, their right to access it ask for corrections, and what choices they have. Transparency is about respect and building trust.

Collection and use

  • What’s collected or used, why it’s needed, how it will be used, and how that will help them or others.
  • If and why it will be linked with other information about them.
  • What it won’t be used for, and who won’t see it.
  • If it will be shared with other agencies or professionals and why.
  • What laws allow the collection or use.

Access and Corrections

  • Their right to access data or information and ask for corrections to be made.
  • What will happen if the information won’t be changed in response to their request.


  • What choices they have about who sees it or how it’s used.
  • If they don’t have a choice, why.
  • How they can be involved in decisions around the use of their data or information.

Keep in mind that people can think of their information as being about them even if it doesn’t identify them. It’s good practice to be transparent and offer choice even if it’s collected or used in a way that doesn’t identify them or others.

Be clear about the purpose…

In some situations you may not be the person deciding what data or information to collect or how to use it. In other situations you may have a lot of room to decide what information to collect.

Either way it’s vital to understand why your organisation is collecting people’s information, and how it will be used, by your organisation or other organisations that you may share it with.

If you’re not sure, then it will be hard to be transparent with service users – which the Privacy Act tells us we must be when it’s their personal information (it can, or does, identify them), and this Policy recommends as good practice when it’s ‘about them’ but doesn’t identify them.

Remember that misinterpretation, misuse, or careless use of people’s information can have serious consequences for them, their whānau, or community.

To understand more, see the Transparency and Choice guideline.

  • Make sure staff understand the purpose of any data or information they collect or use, and are confident to explain it to service users.
  • If you decide what to collect (e.g. when setting up contracts, or designing assessments), get a wide range of views, including from service users, about what is fair and reasonable.
  • Work with other organisations that your organisation shares data or information with to agree and record what the purpose is, and how it will be explained to service users. If appropriate agree how the outcome of using the information will be communicated back to them.
  • Make sure your organisation has clear, easy to use explanations for service users, and processes for ensuring they can ask questions about purpose.
  • Keep focused on He Tāngata. Make sure it’s clear how any collection or use of people’s information will benefit them, people in similar situations, or the wider community.
  • It’s not just ethical to be clear about purpose. The Privacy Act says information should only be collected if there is a clear, reasonable need for it and it should only be used for the purpose it was collected for, unless there is a specific exception.

Support choices

People should have as many choices as possible about their data or information. Choices can be about what information is provided, how it’s provided, recorded or shared, and who gets to see or use it.

There may be situations where it’s not safe or appropriate to offer choices . Consult with others and think about this carefully as it can have negative affects on people’s trust and engagement. 

The way you can support choices, will vary depending on the work you do and how you interact with service users.

The Mana Whakahaere principle asks that:

  • Where possible, give people choices and respect the choices they make.
  • Give people easy access to and oversight of their information wherever possible.

Some practical ways you can provide choice are:

  • Develop resources and training so staff understand the choices people have around their data and information and are confident to support people to make those choices.
  • Focus on encouraging service users to feel safe and empowered in making choices around their data and information when they engage with your organisation.
  • Make sure explanations about choices are available in user-friendly, accessible and easy to understand ways.
  • If you decide what to collect or how to use it – then listen to service users’ views on what’s reasonable and fair. If you don’t decide then help anyone who does understand what choices can be offered, and encourage them to listen to service users’ views.
  • Making a choice isn’t a once off thing. Things change – have processes so that service users can re-consider what choices they might want to make. 
  • Ensure that systems, processes, and policies support easy access to data or information for staff and service users. Think about how data and information is stored and recorded.

Be proactive about access

People have a legal right to access their personal information (that does, or can, identify them) and ask for corrections to be made except in specific situations. Be proactive and make it as easy as possible for service users. Don’t wait for them to ask. Tell them about their rights, encourage and support them to use those rights.

There are lots of ways to be proactive. Think about the context of your work as well as any relevant legal, organisational or ethical requirements.

  • Consider letting service users nominate a representative or advocate to help them with access.
  • Encourage staff to think about, and talk about, access and correction as part of everyday work.
  • Train staff to handle requests for access or correction in respectful and mana enhancing ways.
  • Understand the access needs of different groups like children and young people, English as a second language speakers etc.
  • If your organisation shares data or information with other organisations then develop easy, trustworthy systems for service users to access their information from those organisations without having to duplicate their requests.

Sharing data and information

Generally sharing information at the frontline is about sharing personal (identifiable) information between agencies so service users can access support.

“Sharing value” (see the Sharing Value guideline) is about sharing the knowledge created using data and information from or about service users, whānau, and communities. It’s about Mahitahitanga.

Share value 

  • Look for opportunities to use your expertise to help shape data analysis, research or other ways of understanding data and information.
  • Advocate for service users’ voices to be included.
  • Advocate for service users’ choices about how their information is used to create insights.
  • If you create insights, do research, or other forms of analysis, safely share it to grow collective knowledge. This includes sharing the de-identified data sets with those who have a legitimate interest to improve wellbeing.

Share information

  • Uphold the Data Protection and Use Policy principles when sharing.
  • Support services users choices whenever possible.
  • Follow any other ethical or legal requirements that relate to your work.