Toi Āria: Design for Public Good

Our mission at Toi Āria is to improve lives by reforming the design and delivery of public services. Harnessing the research power of Massey University, Toi Āria brings together leading design researchers, practitioners and policy makers, to deliver design-led, evidence-based, service innovations.

We use human-centred design because it is the most potent agent of positive social change. It ensures the voice of citizens is heard in policy creation and the needs of service users are met through the design process. Our focus on public good means that every project Toi Āria undertakes adds to a repository of open and shared knowledge for the public sector.

By operating in the ‘third space’, neither public nor private sector, Toi Āria can leverage the creative and intellectual freedom of the university environment, while ensuring innovation is grounded in rigorous method and research. At a national level, Toi Āria is a New Zealand-first for a tertiary provider and is part of a movement, already underway, to radically re-design government services to better understand and meet people’s needs.

We also believe that New Zealand can be a test-bed nation. By designing and prototyping solutions at small scale in Aotearoa, we can make a positive contribution to global practice.

Toi Āria is delivering projects in partnership with:

  • Data Futures Partnership
  • Letting Space
  • Greater Wellington Regional Council
  • Grow Waitaha (Ministry of Education and others)

Clients include:

  • Masterton District Council
  • Inland Revenue
  • Office of the Clerk
  • The team

    Anna Brown (Director)
    Andrew Tobin
    Patrick McKibbin
    Keriana Whittaker
    Sophie Munro
    Tim Parkin
    Thomas Les Bas
    Linda Baxter
    Jhana Millers


  • Client testimony

    The Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives is exploring ideas for electronic petitions to Parliament. Currently parliamentary petitions can only take the form of signatures on sheets of paper. The Office turned to Toi Āria for help in developing initial concepts. We have been really impressed with the Toi Āria team’s energy and ability to engage with different groups, bring structure to unstructured thoughts and ideas, define the issues confronting us, establish themes and suggestions to explore, and report on the outcome. In particular, Toi Āria very quickly took us out of our usual thinking to connect us with the needs of users, and gave us very firm priorities to pursue as we seek to make the case for change. This has been an invaluable step on our quest to make Parliament relevant.

    David Bagnall from The Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives.