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1. Purpose and intent

1.1 Approach to this evaluation

The New Zealand Productivity Commission (the Commission) commissioned an independent evaluation of the Fair Chance for All Inquiry (the inquiry), which was conducted from June 2021 when the Terms of Reference scoping began, to July 2023, once the Final Report and quantitative analysis were released. Evaluations are required for all Productivity Commission inquiries, as outlined in the Statement of Performance Expectations.2 Other recent evaluations of inquiries are available online.3

The scope of this evaluation included:

  • A review of the Final Report and an assessment of the key themes within supplementary reports;4
  • Interviews with Commissioners, Inquiry Directors and research consultants or contractors who contributed to the inquiry;
  • Two focus groups requiring 12-20 people (total participation was within range with 17);
  • Incorporation of additional data sources, including:
    • the online survey on the inquiry’s performance against the performance measures set out in the 2022-23 Statement of Performance Expectations.
    • submissions summary
    • engagement and media reporting
  • Feedback on the overall performance of the inquiry against the Commission’s six performance measures;
  • Comment, as appropriate, on the Commission’s three impact measures.

Outside the scope of this evaluation were:

  • Consideration of the Commission’s impact indicators beyond an overview;
  • Consideration of supplemental reports (Interim and Quantitative) beyond an overview; and
  • Additional interviews with past/present Commissioners or with further research contractors beyond those named within scope.

The evaluation of this inquiry is the first time that the findings from all these components have been brought together into one report.5 Previous inquiry evaluations have delivered separately the review, focus groups and online survey components. The intent of commissioning the evaluation in this way was to enable greater triangulation and synthesis of the findings across the various data sources, with the view to eliciting richer commentary and more robust and usable recommendations for future quality improvement.

The approach to this evaluation is a report that is readable and user-friendly. In addition to reviewing the inquiry according to the Commission’s performance measures, this report provides additional insights around the role of the Commission within the public sector and society more broadly. Both the key findings and these insights are intended to support the Commission in its impact, outcomes and continuous improvement, for future inquiries and for other Commission activities.

2. final.pdf This document also provides reference to the Commission’s performance measures and impact indicators.

3. and

4. The reports and materials considered included the Terms of Reference, Interim Report, Final Report, Quantitative Report, consultation and feedback reports on the Terms of Reference, and a range of research reports commissioned by the Inquiry.

5. The Commission delivered the survey independently of this evaluation and the results were shared and incorporated into this report.

1.2 Inquiry Terms of Reference

The inquiry Terms of Reference included:

  • new insights about the dynamics and drivers of persistent disadvantage;
  • recommendations for actions and system changes to break or mitigate the cycle of disadvantage; and
  • help to raise public awareness and understanding of trends in economic inclusion and social mobility in New Zealand.

Further guidance was provided around methods and approaches that the Commission should use in informing Inquiry recommendations. The referring Ministers for the Inquiry were the Ministers of Finance, Child Poverty Reduction, Minister for Social Development and Employment, Minister of Revenue, Minister for Māori Development, and Minister for Pacific Peoples. The full Terms of Reference and associated guidance can be found online.6

This inquiry used some new approaches for the work, which are discussed in detail within the 'new initiatives' section of this report. These approaches included:

  • Public consultation on shaping the Terms of Reference;7
  • Actively collaborating with particular groups using policy workshops;8
  • Using wānanga and talanoa sessions to gather evidence;
  • A comprehensive analysis and published summary of submissions to the Interim Report; and
  • Taking a systems approach, instead of focusing on specific policy areas (e.g. housing), and using systems-thinking tools and methods.


7. This approach was taken by the Minister of Finance and agreed by Cabinet

8. This may have been done previously but this Inquiry used it quite heavily.

1.3 Purpose and function of the Commission

The purpose and function of the Commission are laid out in the New Zealand Productivity Commission Act 2010 as:

The principal purpose of the Commission is to provide advice to the Government on improving productivity in a way that is directed to supporting the overall well-being of New Zealanders, having regard to a wide range of communities of interest and population groups in New Zealand society.

The functions of the Commission are:

  1. on referral to the Commission by the responsible Minister in conjunction with the relevant portfolio Ministers (collectively, the referring Ministers), to hold inquiries and report to the referring Ministers about productivity-related matters; and;
  2. on its own initiative, to—
    • undertake and publish research about productivity-related matters; and
    • promote public understanding of productivity-related matters.9

The Treasury is the policy agency for the Commission and the current responsible Minister is the Minister of Finance. The Commission’s functions and purpose are also governed by the Crown Entities Act 2004.

The role, purpose, and value of the Commission were most recently considered through a comparative analysis of international productivity institutions and subsequent advice from the Treasury to the Minister of Finance.10 The Evaluation Project Director is not aware of any other reviews of the Commission’s legislation, role or purpose.