Mind & Matters

Understanding the hearts and minds of Kiwis.


Monthly insights designed to help you better understand public sentiment, from macro trends to behaviours and attitudes towards key interest areas. Brought to you by Perceptive and Sapien Research.



Key findings

Top level insights from the report

Hope increased to a new peak of 51% (up 7% on April).


Fewer than 1 in 10 households say they are unaffected by cost of living/inflation pressures.

Cost of living

More Kiwis believe things will get better than at the start of the year (40% May vs 36% January).

12-month outlook

This month's insights

Released 20 June 2024

Hope continues to rise

New Zealanders have remained hopeful this month, with it retaining our top spot as the most widely felt emotion, this positivity is backed up by further gains for ‘optimism’ (+4%). While negative emotions ‘stressed’ and ‘anxious’ remain quite prevalent, they are experienced by fewer New Zealanders.

  • Hopeful: has increased since February (44%) to a new peak (51%).
  • Optimistic: gains +4% to 47% returning to its January level.
  • Stressed: experiences another sharp drop -4% to 37%.
  • Anxious: has now dropped consistently over the last 3 waves -4% to 32%.



New Zealand’s women continue to experience more negative emotions than their male counterparts (76% vs 54% of men), although there’s a small improvement on last wave. Women are more likely to have felt ‘stressed’ (44% vs 29% men), ‘anxious’ (43% vs 21% men) and ‘frustrated’ (41% vs 24% of men). In contrast, it’s men who are more likely to claim they have felt ‘optimistic’ (54% vs 39% women), ‘hopeful’ (54% vs 47%) and ‘motivated’ (45% vs 38%).

These emotional experiences are largely consistent across those aged 18-64 years, as previously it’s those over 65 years of age that differ, they remain the least likely to have experienced negative emotions (57%), the least likely to feel stressed (15%), and the most likely to feel optimistic (52%).


New Zealanders’ positivity around the next 12 months takes a dip

After a large positive shift last month, there’s a marked fall in the proportion of New Zealanders who believe things will get better for their family in the next 12 months (-3% to 40% in May). Despite the negative shift, there are still more Kiwis believing things will get better than at the start of the year (40% May 2024, 36% January 2024).

However, this month’s drop in ‘things will get better’ corresponds with an increase in those thinking ‘things will get worse’ (+4% to 17% May), reaching its highest level so far this year. Negative sentiment is most pronounced amongst those 45-64 years old (21%) and worse amongst men of this age (25%) regardless of their family situation or working status.





Perceptions of the country’s direction remain negative

New Zealanders remain quite evenly divided over whether or not the country is going in the right direction. While the majority of New Zealanders continue to feel the country is heading in the wrong direction (55%), the general trend since the start of the year is one of small improvement.

North Islanders continue to be more positive (45% vs 43%) than those on the mainland. However, the Wellington region stands out with a very different perspective, 73% of those interviewed in Wellington felt the country was going in the wrong direction.




Personal financial situation remains the #1 impact on NZ households

In May, the three main factors that have affected New Zealanders’ households the most remained the same:

  1. Your financial situation (54%) – +6% on April and up 2% on March
  2. The New Zealand economy (44%) – dropping -3% on recent results
  3. The New Zealand healthcare system (39%) – rising slightly on April (+1%).

Personal financial situation has its strongest impact on women (57% vs 51% men) and those under 44 years of age (61%). Interestingly, it's also stronger for men in the 45-64 years cohort (56%), reflecting the worsening expectations of this cohort.


Cost of living impacts remain prevalent

Cost of living impacts are widespread, with fewer than 1 in 10 households claiming to be unaffected by cost of living/inflation pressures. While this wave sees fewer Kiwis indicating they have had to ‘cut back’ on what they buy (-3% to 32%), there is a marked (+4%) increase in the proportion who are using savings or credit to ‘afford what they need'.

Interestingly, there’s a marked gender difference in this, with men more likely to admit to ‘using savings/credit’ to meet their needs (20% men, 14% women). Conversely, women are more likely to ‘cut back on what they buy’ (35% women, 28% women).

Similarly, it’s those under 44 years who are most likely to be using savings/credit to get by (24%, 10% of those 44 years+).



Top 3 categories New Zealanders would cut back on first if they had to

  1. Homeware and décor – 61%
  2. Entertainment, media, and streaming services – 60%
  3. Alcohol/tobacco/vapes – 48%.

To get a clearer read on which cost cutting behaviours were likely to have the biggest impact, we looked at the most popular categories New Zealanders spend on alongside what they would choose to cut back on first. The top 3 most impacted categories were:

  1. Entertainment, media and streaming services – 41% spent on this in May. Of those, 60% would reduce this spending first, equating to
    25% of New Zealanders who would cut back on this category first.
  2. Clothing and footwear – 40% spent on this in May. Of those, 50% would reduce this spending first, equating to 20% of New Zealanders who would cut back on this category first.
  3. Food and groceries – 92% spent on this in May. Of those, 20% would reduce this spending first, equating to 18% of New Zealanders who would cut back on this category first.




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June 2024

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May 2024

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April 2024

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March 2024

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February 2024

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October 2023

Quarterly Report | Issue 1

July - September 2023

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August 2023

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July 2023

Talking points

Quarterly dips on issues affecting New Zealanders

Holiday spending and new year resolutions

Nov 2023 - Jan 2024

EV / hybrid road user charges

Feb - Apr 2024

Coming soon

Financial wellbeing

About this tracker


What is Mind & Matters?

Mind & Matters is designed to help business and leaders better understand public sentiment. From macro trends to behaviours and attitudes towards key interest areas, such as such as job security, personal finance, mental health, the environment and more, Mind & Matters is your comprehensive check-in on the state-of-mind of the New Zealand public.


Why we're running this tracker?

In April 2020, in the midst of a pandemic lockdown, Perceptive and Sapien built the first Covid-19 Tracker to help businesses and leaders better understand the hearts and minds of Kiwis as we experienced this unprecedented event.

Fast forward to 2023 and the world—and New Zealand—continues to experience change on multiple fronts, from rising inflation to the rise of eCommerce and generative AI. With this in mind, Perceptive and Sapien have taken the best of our Covid-19 tracker produce this comprehensive tracker that explores what Kiwis think, feel and believe in relation to some of the most topical and challenging issues of today.


How often will Mind & Matters be released?

Mind & Matters releases its findings online every month. To ensure you don't miss a release, subscribe to Mind & Matters and have updates sent straight to your inbox.