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Development of the Waikato Progress Indicators (WPI)

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Report: TR 2014/44

Author: Paul Killerby, Beat Huser

About this report

This report summarises the results from desktop research undertaken throughout 2013-14 as part of the development of the Waikato Progress Indicators (WPI) programme. The aim was to learn from national and international good practice to inform the development of a comprehensive assessment of economic, environmental and social wellbeing conditions and trends for the Waikato region.

Waikato Regional Council’s (WRC’s) challenge was to develop a framework to present complex issues using summary indicators. The WPI initiative to date has resulted in:

  • A thoroughly researched conceptual framework;
  • Comprehensive data spreadsheet and analysis of 32 indicators of economic, social and environmental progress; and
  • Dashboard of products including regional scorecard, national and regional comparison tables, circles of wellbeing (state and trend), individual indicator report cards and web pages (

Recommendations from a ‘frameworks review’ in early 2013 were considered during the development of the WPI framework. The frameworks review resulted in recommendations on the purpose and target audience, indicators and domains, indicator selection process, reporting and presentation of results. The key recommendation of the frameworks review was to build on existing good practice programmes including the WRC environmental indicators and MARCO (monitoring and reporting community outcomes) indicator programme. Subsequent information and peer review also influenced the evolution of the WPI programme.

The frameworks review recommendations included a proposal to develop a composite overall Regional Development Index and sub-indices which could be compared between New Zealand regions (potentially internationally) and tracked over time. Initial results from experimental composite wellbeing indices for the Waikato region are presented as part of this report.

The current WPI framework, indicators and results are a work-in-progress to provide a basis for consultation, sharing of data/information and engagement with stakeholders and the community. Results and a summary of the WPI background and method used are presented in the 2014 WRC Technical Report titled Waikato Progress Indicators – Tupuranga Waikato. (Huser and Killerby, 2014).

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Development of the Waikato Progress Indicators (WPI) (PDF 3mb)


  Executive summary i
  List of Acronyms ii
1 Setting the scene 1
1.1 Background 2
1.2 Monitoring the unobservable 3
1.3 Pragmatism and the avoidance of false precision 3
1.4 MARCO guidelines 3
1.5 Method used for review of frameworks 4
1.6 A note on the semantics of indicators and indices 5
2 Measuring progress and wellbeing 7
2.1 Strategic context for wellbeing monitoring and reporting 7
2.2 Societal progress and its measurement 10
2.3 Approaches to measuring genuine progress and wellbeing 14
2.4 Different approaches – lessons learnt 24
3 Results of good-practice frameworks review 26
3.1 Summary of results 26
3.2 Purpose and target audience 27
3.3 Indicators and domains 28
3.4 Indicator selection process 30
3.5 Reporting 31
3.6 Technical elements 33
4 WPI conceptual framework 37
5 Composite wellbeing indices 40
5.1 Advantages/disadvantages of composite well-being indices 40
5.2 Experimental composite wellbeing indices for the Waikato region 42
6 Peer reviewers’ feedback 57
7 Where to next? 60
  References 61
Appendix A: Bellagio Principles 67
Appendix B: Review of Good-practice Frameworks 70