Pātiki and Waharua Kōpito patterns

Read the charter

The Algorithm charter for Aotearoa New Zealand demonstrates a commitment to ensuring New Zealanders have confidence in how government agencies use algorithms. The charter is one of many ways that government demonstrates transparency and accountability in the use of data.

What 'algorithm' means

The Algorithm Charter doesn’t commit to a specific technical definition of the term ‘algorithm’.

An algorithm is “an automated tool for operational decision making that has little or no oversight by an individual.” 

This definition has been chosen as it best reflects many of the concerns around the unintended effects of algorithm use which led to the creation of the Algorithm Charter. 

Algorithm use at Te Whatu Ora

We're committed to transparency and accountability in our decision making, and we were among the original signatories to the Algorithm Charter.

Based on the definition of Algorithm we have used, we don't currently use algorithms to directly make operational health decisions. Instead, we use a series of tools to help ensure the consistent prioritising and triaging of patients for treatment, but decisions are ultimately the responsibility of clinicians. Because of this approach, the risk of adverse or unintended outcomes of these tools is low.

Examples of tools used to support decision making

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment tool

Clinicians use this tool to determine the level of intervention required with an individual in relation to their risk of cardiovascular disease risk. While the tool allows scores to be able to be allocated to an individual’s experiences, it does not directly determine an operational action – something that is determined directly by the clinician

The Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment tool


National Priority Interface

Clinicians use the National Priority Interface to take a standard approach to the prioritisation of patients for publicly funded elective surgeries. The characteristics of an individual presenting for elective surgery are reviewed, and scored by Clinicians against a consistent scale. If a patient scores above a particular level, they are prioritised for elective surgery by the relevant District Health Board.

The National Prioritisation Interface 

Actions to be taken by Te Whatu Ora

There are no algorithms in use at Te Whatu Ora at the moment, there are significant opportunities in health care in the safe usage of algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

As kaitiaki of the health system, we're focussed on ensuring that high quality, effective and safe tools are used across the system to enable quality health care. Beyond the review of our use of algorithms, this guide is a significant contribution to enable safe algorithm use across the health sector into the future.

As part of our ongoing work, we'll embed the principles of the Algorithm Charter into the development and maintenance of any algorithms we produce. We expect to review our processes every 12 months, and update our reporting accordingly.


Any questions about the Algorithm Charter and how it has been implemented at Manatū Hauora should be sent to info@health.govt.nz.