About us

The Auckland Co-Design Lab (The Lab) has been established to provide a neutral space to explore the case for change using collective impact, co-design and other innovative approaches to complex social issues. The Lab is funded by Treasury, and is co- located with its other key sponsor – Auckland Council’s Southern Initiative team in Manukau.


We have a core team with experience spanning social labs, policy, big data, design thinking, storytelling, central government, local government, business, research, programme management. Our Challenge Managers Peter and Alastair will work with co- design coaches and cross-agency teams to build the case for change across four key complex, multi-agency challenges and other aligned projects. Our story teller Karthiga will capture the data, learnings, insights and outcomes as we go, supported by our external evaluators. Our partners, especially Auckland Council, will support us with advice, resources and in kind contributions. We have a Governance Group chaired by David Smol, CE of MBIE and Stephen Town, CE of Auckland Council and made up of senior government and NGO leaders who will provide guidance, unlock resources and topple obstacles.

Who we are

Meet the team

Director - Jane Strange

Jane is the Director of the Auckland Co-design Lab. Previously Jane worked as a Design Catalyst with Better by Design - a specialist service offered by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise that helps companies increase their potential for international competitiveness, through the adoption of Design Thinking and Design tools & methodologies. Before that she led an Innovation and Design team at ASB, and has a background in ethnographic market research, product and service development, strategy development, marketing and legal practice.

Challenge Manager — Peter Hanning

Peter is the challenge manager and one of the two co-authors of the business case for the Auckland Co-Design Lab. He’s passionate and process-driven to make better outcomes for families. Previously Peter worked for two government agencies that deliver social and economic services. His role for the last four years has been to support the establishment of multi-agency programmes and deliver improved outcomes for citizens living in Auckland, New Zealand. Peter has a background of project, programme and change management, starting in IT projects, and has worked across the public and private sectors. 

Challenge Manager — Alastair Child

Alastair is passionate about putting the needs of people at the heart of public services and excited by the opportunity the Lab has to influence and shape how services are designed and delivered in South Auckland and across New Zealand. Alastair joined the Lab team from Auckland Council. Arriving in New Zealand from the UK in 2011, he has seven years’ local government experience including working on a range social innovation projects (schools, early years and child poverty) and the development of a social innovation lab.

Story Teller — Karthiga Kanesha

Karthiga is the Storyteller for the lab. She will also work alongside the external evaluators to measure the impact and the progress of the lab.  Karthiga is very passionate and optimistic, and is committed to making positive changes in the community for better health and wellbeing outcomes. Prior to the lab, Karthiga was a Health Promoter at Counties Manukau DHB, helping to support schools and communities identify their health and wellbeing needs.  Karthiga has worked in the health industry, her background is in Public health, community development, and health promotion, and has completed her Masters in Public Health.

Programme Manager — Tom Ah Fook

Tom is the Super Hero Support (SHS) for the Auckland Co-Design Lab. He has a background working with Central & Local Government agencies. Prior to leaving for Sydney Tom worked for the Auckland Policy Office for 6 years, being the face of APO he has learnt a lot on his SHS journey with working with many different people from different walks of life. He has no problems overcoming difficult challenges that are put towards him and is always looking for a positive outcome! 


Cultural / Ethnographic Advisor — Sophia Beaton

Sophia is of Kai Tahu and Kati Mamoe descenct from Bluff/Rakiura and is the lab’s ethnographic and cultural advisor. Her role is to support the team as they begin to explore and understand the experiences of various communities from their perspective.   Sophia’s background is in community development and project management in the homelessness sector where she employed empathetic learning and co-design practices with community.  She holds a Master’s degree in Māori studies and a Bachelor’s degree in genetics.