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Awards Recognise Innovative Consultation Tool


Online consultation application offers New Zealanders a voice in policy-making.

Thursday 16 November 2006

The Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand has given the nod to ‘The Couch’ ( an innovative online consultation tool, making it a finalist in the 2006 Awards Information category. [The website is run by the Families Commission and was developed by Boost New Media.] The awards are an annual event recognising and encouraging excellence in New Zealand's interactive industry. Boost New Media won the Education Category and ‘Best of the Best’ award in 2005.

“We’re up against some stiff competition this year, including Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand and, so we’re very happy to have got this far” says company founder Nathan Donaldson.

The Couch was launched in April this year, and has given the Families Commission a better understanding of their members, and the needs and aspirations of New Zealand families.

“The other finalists have budgets ten times that of ours, but our application has the potential to explore issues that affect New Zealanders - just as powerfully. It’s a well-designed example of e-Democracy in action”, states Donaldson.

The Couch is a website and consultation application gives New Zealanders a voice in the policy development process. The public’s responses to polls and questionnaires helps shape the Families Commission's advocacy work, aimed at improving services and support for families, and their advice on proposed government policies.

For more information visit: or



Online e-Democracy application gives citizens a voice.

Thursday 16 November 2006

The Families Commission consultation website ‘The Couch’ ( is the first implementation of ‘Sonar’, an e-Democracy application that uses the Internet to enhance democratic processes.

Using Sonar, New Zealanders can contribute their opinions and experiences to policymaking and consultation processes.

‘The Couch’ is a finalist in the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) 2006 Business Internet Awards, being announced next week.

The Couch is the tool used by the Families Commission and its now 2500 member online panel to provide feedback on issues. It was launched in April this year and is helping to broaden the Families Commission understanding of the needs and aspirations of a wide range of New Zealand families.

Sonar ( is the application behind The Couch, and is ideal for any issue-based discussions. It allows citizens and officials to communicate, and in many cases set agendas on a wide range of issues.

“Once the politicking is over, Sonar is the ideal tool for Auckland to work through its stadium choices.” jokes Technical Director Nathan Donaldson.

Consultations can range from substantive discussions, to quick opinion polls.

Sonar makes completing questionnaires easy, utilising a simple report-building, graph production, and publishing process.

"The Couch allows the Commission to quickly gather the views of many New Zealand families. Whether we are seeking in-depth information or off-the-cuff opinions, the Couch makes a significant contribution to our advocacy," says Amanda Heath, General Manager Communications and Community Relations.

"We also provide reports of the poll results to members of the Couch panel and this helps build their trust in what we’re doing. It's a two-way relationship", she said.


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