Measuring and monitoring quality of life in the Waikato Region

Around this time last year, I blogged about tracking progress in the Waikato Region – summaring the latest available results from the Waikato Progress Indicators (WPI), a community progress monitoring programme funded and maintained by Waikato Regional Council. The WPI website shows the current situation and trends across each of 32 key economic, environmental and social aspects which together give a ‘dashboard’ picture of the wellbeing of the Waikato region and quality of life of its people and communities.

This year’s summary update shows that, over the past decade there have been positive gains in some aspects of community wellbeing including reduced levels of air particulates, less road crashes across the region, increased incomes and economic activity. However, some indicators have gone backwards, including (in declining order of scale):

  • poorer perceptions of community engagement – decrease in the percentage of Waikato survey respondents who agreed that the public has an influence over the decisions their local Council makes (down from 62% in 2006 to 36% in 2018)
  • less physical activity – decrease in the percentage of Waikato survey respondents who report having been physically active on five or more of the past seven days (down from 61% in 2006 to 40% in 2018)
  • higher water use – increase in water allocation as a percent of total allocable water at the Waikato River mouth during the summer months from 67% in 2007 to 86% in 2018
  • more residential expansion onto versatile land – increase in residential use of versatile land in the Waikato region, from 13,727 hectares (ha) in 2008 to 17,287 ha in 2017 (note the greatest amount of subdivision has been occurring on land classed as having higher productive capabilities)
  • lower levels of cultural respect – decrease in the percentage of Waikato survey respondents who agree that New Zealand becoming home for an increasing number of people with different lifestyles and cultures from different countries makes their city/area a better place to live, from 51% in 2006 to 41% in 2018
  • worse perceived health – decrease in the percentage of Waikato survey respondents who rate their overall health positively, from 90% in 2006 to 79% in 2018
  • lower levels of community pride – decrease in the percentage of Waikato survey respondents who agree they feel a sense of pride in the way their local area looks and feels, from 70% in 2006 to 62% in 2018
  • fewer Te Reo Māori speakers – decrease in the percentage of Waikato region residents who say that they speak Te Reo, from 5.8% in 2006 and 6.4% in 2001
  • less use of public transport – decrease in public transport use per person from 9.1 boardings during 2007/08 to 8.5 in 2017/18
  • lower levels of life satisfaction – decrease in the percentage of people who rated their overall quality of life positively, from 90% in 2006 to 87% in 2018.

A number of these indicators are measured through a Waikato regional survey done in parallel with various metro councils’ biennial Quality of Life Survey. The Waikato regional data were analysed separately and results are reported online by Waikato Regional Council.

A total of 1,416 Waikato regional residents aged 18 years and over completed the Waikato Quality of Life survey between April and June 2018. Questions were asked in relation to their self-perceived overall quality of life, environment (built and natural), housing and other aspects of community wellbeing.

The 2018 Waikato Quality of Life survey results provided comprehensive up-to-date information on public perceptions, attitudes and behaviours in the Waikato region and other parts of New Zealand. The results are helping inform regional and local government policy and support monitoring towards strategic social, cultural and economic goals.

Sources:

Killerby, P. and Huser, B. (2019) “Waikato Progress Indicators – Tupuranga Waikato: Summary Update May 2019”, Waikato Regional Council Technical Report 2019/07 (May 2019).

Killerby, P. and Huser, B. (2019) “Quality of Life Survey 2018: Waikato results”, Waikato Regional Council Technical Report 2019/06 (May 2019).

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