“Having a good life to me means that you should have somewhat of a happy attitude and that you should have your path in life decided by yourself and that you should go follow it.” – Response from a 13 year old Tongan boy when asked “What makes a good life?”

This month we welcomed Donna Provoost from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to share with us her key insights from the “What Makes a Good Life?” study. Donna spoke to the group about the research, how it can be used and how we can better engage with children and young people in our work.

The study heard from more than 6,000 children and young people through an online survey, focus groups, one on one and paired interviews. The youngest participant was only 9 months old.

Donna explained that the majority of children responded positively when asked about their wellbeing. However, 10% responded negatively to four or more of the 17 wellbeing statements and 2% responded negatively to ten or more statements. These children and young people are likely experiencing challenges in their daily lives.

Throughout the presentation, Donna touched on some key themes and advice that resonated with the group...


Children and young people’s relationships are key to their happiness. The concept of ‘whanaungatanga’ came through strongly across all of Donna’s key insights. She spoke about how children and young people continuously talked about their parents, family, whānau and friends.

Donna spoke about how this would seem like an intuitive concept, saying that if David Attenborough observed and narrated for human beings, he would note that we are social creatures who live and thrive in communities. We all want to be loved and spend time with those who love us, and this rings true for children and young people.

She emphasised that we need to remember this when providing services to children and young people. When we are young we are like a seed – we put down roots and form connections that help us to grow and flourish. If we are uprooted or have our connections severed, it is hard for us to grow and be happy.

This concept resonated with the group and we discussed how organisations could change their measures to value relationships. Donna made a poignant comment saying “It takes a village to raise a child – you never say it takes well-designed, efficient and effective government services to raise a child.”

Genuine Engagement

Donna also spoke about how children and young people were engaged as a part of the study, emphasising how important it is to be genuine. They need to feel comfortable enough to have a conversation with you, as children and young people can sense if you are being genuine.

The group agreed that this capability needs to be further developed and valued within the sector. Donna spoke about how their true co-design approach built the initial trust that allowed for genuine conversations to take place. The questions asked in the study were designed for children and young people to easily understand and respond, taking an activity-based approach to engagements.

Children and young people know what they need to be happy

When determining how to improve the lives of children and young people, who better to ask than children and young people themselves? Donna spoke about how valuable children and young people’s insights are and how they should be a strong voice when services are designed for them.

She gave an example from when her daughter attended Girl Guides and how the adults would decide what was most valuable for the weekly activities, but didn’t always check with the girls themselves if that was what they wanted to do. Often we don’t stop to ask what would be most valuable to children – we decide from an adult perspective.

Donna’s talk highlighted crucial insights which should be remembered when engaging with and designing services for children and young people. She emphasised how valuable children and young people’s insights are and how their voices need to be treated as such – valuable.

After the session, we caught up with Donna over a cup of coffee to ask her some more questions. You can read more here.

View the full “What Makes a Good Life” report, overview and data here.

For more information on Deloitte’s Social Impact Practice, visit our webpage.

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