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Welcome to Policy by Design, a landmark symposium on the role of co-design and design in policy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The symposium brings together an invited group of experienced commissioners, senior managers, expert practitioners, researchers, innovation workers and aligned professionals from across local and central government, academia and the private sector.

Why a symposium?

‘Design’ has the potential to make the policy process more accessible to the people most affected by it, to develop policy that is more responsive to their needs and experiences, and to create a stronger feedback loop between research, policy, implementation and their impacts on the ground. However, this field is still evolving, and the risks and challenges of these ways of working are also becoming better understood. The symposium provides a timely opportunity to reflect and share what we currently know, challenge ourselves about what ‘better’ might look like, and collectively work on the future of these practices in Aotearoa New Zealand.

How it will work

The symposium puts forward a proposition. Over two days we will work together to unpack and develop a response to that proposition. The event’s small size and carefully curated programme enables an active, hands-on learning and sharing experience for all participants. Session types across the two days include expert presentations, ‘surgeries’ on key issues, unpacking case study examples, small group workshops, mapping key change practices, and hands-on exploration of established and emerging design tools. Together we will produce usable outputs that will take our collective practice forward.

Overview of the two days

Proposition: Social policy which addresses complex issues needs to be developed with an understanding of the complex social settings in which such policy must work. Eppel et al. (2018) call for a “complexity-informed” approach to policy that encompasses adaptive and collaborative approaches and responds to the needs and dynamics of different communities.*

There are opportunities to leverage design-led approaches to support these kinds of policy outcomes.

Day 1

Current State and what holds us back:
What do the opportunities look like?
What do the challenges look like?

Future State: Where do we want to head to?
What might it look like?
What are the practice shifts that are needed? Where are we headed?

Day 2

How do we get there?
What new practices are emerging?
What are the different approaches?

What will we do to get to the future state?
What is our collective response to the challenge/opportunity proposed?
How will we leverage the opportunity?

To view a more detailed version of the programme click here

* From Complexity to Collaboration: Creating the New Zealand we want for ourselves, and enabling future generations to do the same for themselves - A provocation for change by Elizabeth Eppel, Girol Karacaoglu and Donna Provoost


Wednesday 30 May, 9.30am - 5.00pm
Thursday 31 May, 9.00am - 4.30pm


View the invitation - click here
View the draft programme - click here


GridAKL, 12 Madden Street, Auckland

GridAKL - How to get there, transport and parking



If you have any questions please email: 

Sponsors and partners

Developed and co-hosted by Auckland Co-design Lab, The Southern Initiative and Community Social Policy (Auckland Council)

Sponsored by: Auckland Co-design Lab, Auckland Council’s Quality Advice Programme and GridAKL.