Our role

Superu (Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit) was an autonomous Crown entity that focused on what works to improve the lives of families and whānau.  We were established in 2003 and, until 2014, known as the Families Commission.

We operated according to the Crown Entities Act 2004, Families Commission Act 2003 and Families Commission Amendment Act 2014.


Disestablishment of Superu/the Families Commission

Superu was disestablished on 30 June 2018 by the Families Commission Act Repeal Act.  According to the Act, Superu was disestablished "...in order to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiencies in the provision of social science research and advocacy for the interests of families generally". 

Some of our work transferred to other agencies, as outlined here. Work that wasn't transferred finished by 30 June. 


Who we worked with

We worked with decision-makers in the social sector – the people who develop, fund, deliver, research and evaluate social policies and programmes – so that they could have the good-quality evidence needed to help solve complex social issues.

We helped decision-makers understand:

  • the multi-dimensional challenges faced by families and whānau
  • what needs to change to improve their outcomes
  • what should work
  • what did work
  • how to monitor programmes when evidence is limited.


How we worked

We connected people and ideas from different parts of the social sector and connect decision-makers with the evidence they need.

We generated evidence that helped decision-makers understand complex social issues and what works to address them.

We shared the best evidence of what works with the people who make decisions on social services.

We supported decision-makers to use evidence to make better decisions to improve social outcomes.

We also provided independent assurance by:

  • developing standards of evidence and good practice guidelines
  • supporting the use of evidence and good evaluation by others in the social sector.

While other government agencies are involved in research and evaluation in their own agency or sector, we focused on understanding what works across social sectors and multiple agencies.


Where we worked

  • Where an impartial view was important.
  • Where expertise across the social sector was needed, especially with regard to family and whānau wellbeing.
  • With researchers and evaluators inside and outside government.
  • With people tackling complex issues who were based in central and local government and academic, community or iwi-based organisations.
Last update: 27 Jun 2018