Our Tūru­apō

We want to make life more won­der­ful for all peo­ple in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our vision is that every­body is thriv­ing from the inside out. That every­body has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to live a life that is mean­ing­ful for them.

🎉 The Heartwork Game 6.5 released!

👉You can order your set of packs now, deliv­ery on 17th Feb 👌

🥳15% Dis­count if you order before our next print run on Thurs­day 13th — use dis­count code “FEB13” at check­out

🌱Join us on a zoom video call 10:00–10:40am Wednes­day 5th NZT to explore the game with us and ask any ques­tions you have! 🗓Click here to add to your cal­en­dar, and Click here to join the call 🙂

🎁It’s impor­tant to us this kau­pa­pa is acces­si­ble — invest­ing in this game enables us at Heart­work to con­tin­ue doing this mahi (work) for human flour­ish­ing, and if this pric­ing is a bar­ri­er to you, email Peter on peter@heartworkhq.com — he’d love to korero and find pric­ing that meets your needs so you and your organisation/community can get the ben­e­fits of this kau­pa­pa.

🃏The game works best when each play­er has their own pack — how many peo­ple would you love to con­nect and cre­ate with at one time? How many peo­ple are there in your work team or imme­di­ate fam­i­ly? 👌

Our Kau­pa­pa:

We’re work­ing to cre­ate a more com­pas­sion­ate cul­ture in Aotearoa. A world where life and work are “win-win-win” — good for you, good for oth­ers in your organ­i­sa­tion, and good for soci­ety as a whole.

Heartwork: The Empathy Game

Organ­i­sa­tions that care about the emo­tions and needs of their staff per­form bet­ter” — Har­vard Busi­ness Review ¹ ²


Why did you create a game about human needs for organisations and communities?

We created the game with multiple outcomes in mind:

  • Strength­en­ing sys­tem-lead­er­ship
  • Increas­ing capa­bil­i­ties for peo­ple-cen­tred prod­uct, ser­vice and pol­i­cy design
  • Increas­ing indi­vid­ual, team, organ­i­sa­tion­al and nation­al per­for­mance (abil­i­ty to cre­ate flour­ish­ing)
  • Improv­ing per­son­al and whā­nau well­be­ing in the work­place and at home
  • Enabling fun and mean­ing­ful dai­ly use of te reo Māori ~ the Māori lan­guage
  • Giv­ing peo­ple an insight into te ao Māori ~ the Māori world

So why human ‘needs’?

Research shows that organ­i­sa­tions where peo­ple care about the feel­ings and needs of each oth­er per­form bet­ter, and are bet­ter able to meet the needs of the peo­ple they are there to serve.


Every­one knows we have phys­i­cal needs – food, water and shel­ter etc. But there is equal­ly strong evi­dence that we have innate psy­cho­log­i­cal needs; we need to feel like we belong; we need to have mean­ing and pur­pose; we need to feel like peo­ple see us and val­ue us.

Our lead­ers can have a mas­sive impact on us.  And the world is cur­rent­ly fac­ing a glob­al lead­er­ship cri­sis.  Based on exten­sive research, includ­ing assess­ments of more than 35,000 lead­ers and inter­views with 250 C-lev­el exec­u­tives, “The Mind of the Leader“con­cludes that organ­i­sa­tions and lead­ers aren’t meet­ing employ­ees’ basic human needs of find­ing mean­ing, pur­pose, con­nec­tion, and gen­uine hap­pi­ness in their work.

Glob­al research shows that sev­en­ty-sev­en per­cent of lead­ers think they do a good job of engag­ing their peo­ple, yet 88 per­cent of employ­ees say their lead­ers don’t engage enough. Com­pa­nies with high­ly engaged work­forces out­per­form their peers by 147% in earn­ings per share. There is also a high lev­el of suf­fer­ing in the work­place: 35 per­cent of employ­ees would for­go a pay raise to see their lead­ers fired. This is an enor­mous waste of human talent–despite the fact that $46 bil­lion is spent each year on lead­er­ship devel­op­ment.

Why a card game?

We believe one of the rea­sons that we’re liv­ing in a world where so many peo­ple have deep unmet needs such as for mean­ing and pur­pose is that we haven’t had an acces­si­ble, shared vocab­u­lary to describe our own feel­ings and needs in a con­struc­tive, con­nec­tive way. In fact, many of us have been edu­cat­ed to use a lim­it­ed and judge­men­tal vocab­u­lary that pre­vents us from acknowl­edg­ing ours and oth­ers’ deep­er needs. This lim­it­ed vocab­u­lary can dis­con­nect us from our needs — and if we are dis­con­nect­ed then we can’t find solu­tions and nor can oth­er peo­ple.

The game enables peo­ple to acknowl­edge, accept and artic­u­late a wide range of their own uni­ver­sal feel­ings and needs. And in doing so it enables empa­thy with the feel­ings and needs of oth­ers.

We’ve been influ­enced by the sci­ence of gam­i­fi­ca­tion and how it sup­ports indi­vid­ual behav­iour change and cul­ture change! Hav­ing this vocab­u­lary as a phys­i­cal tool makes it eas­i­er to remem­ber and to rit­u­alise the process of con­sid­er­ing the needs and feel­ings of oth­ers before key inter­ac­tions or at crit­i­cal stages in a design process. Once needs are iden­ti­fied, it’s eas­i­er to find strate­gies that meet everyone’s needs — yours, your col­leagues and the peo­ple you’re serv­ing — “win-win-win”.

Why a “compassion starter culture” ?

To solve the lead­er­ship cri­sis, organ­i­sa­tions need to put peo­ple at the cen­tre of their strat­e­gy.

Using real-world inspi­ra­tional exam­ples from Mar­riott, Accen­ture, McK­in­sey & Com­pa­ny, LinkedIn, and many more “The Mind of the Leader”, pub­lished by the Har­vard Busi­ness Review, pro­pos­es that organ­i­sa­tions need to devel­op peo­ple who lead with three core men­tal qual­i­ties: mind­ful­ness, self­less­ness, and com­pas­sion — with com­pas­sion being the inten­tion to under­stand and care for oth­ers needs, as well as one’s own.

The idea of a “starter cul­ture” is based on both sys­tems-change the­o­ry and also the sci­ence of behav­iour change.    

How does this relate to system-leadership?

Inef­fec­tive lead­ers try to make change hap­pen. Sys­tem lead­ers focus on cre­at­ing the con­di­tions that can pro­duce change and that can even­tu­al­ly cause change to be self-sus­tain­ing.

Stan­ford Social Inno­va­tion Review

A com­pas­sion starter cul­ture is a group that cre­ates its own con­di­tions for change, and so can con­tin­ue to grow.

How are feelings relevant to this work?

Research shows that our thoughts and feel­ings are intrin­si­cal­ly con­nect­ed, and both play a key role in our deci­sion-mak­ing. Feel­ings can also act as gauges for our human needs. To make effec­tive deci­sions with and on behalf of oth­ers we need to grow our aware­ness of feel­ings and how they are influ­enc­ing deci­sions and behav­iour of our­selves and the peo­ple we’re work­ing with and for.

The brain does not hon­our the kind of anachro­nis­tic dis­tinc­tion between thought and feel­ing. Thought and feel­ing are absolute­ly inter­min­gled in the brain, and so there are no areas of the brain that are exclu­sive­ly ded­i­cat­ed to one and not the oth­er. There’s a lot of inter­con­nec­tiv­i­ty. When a child, for exam­ple, is sub­ject­ed to adver­si­ty, and the adver­si­ty gets under the skin, it will impair cog­ni­tive func­tion in addi­tion to pro­duc­ing emo­tion­al dif­fi­cul­ties.

There’s a very famous psy­chol­o­gist who did work on deci­sion mak­ing, and he actu­al­ly got a Nobel prize in eco­nom­ics; his name was Herb Simon. He worked in the 1960s and ’70s, and the way he thought about emo­tion is that it was an inter­rupter. It dis­rupt­ed cog­ni­tive func­tion.

We know now that when we think about the real­ly com­plex deci­sions in our lives .. we can­not make (them) based on a cold cog­ni­tive cal­cu­lus. We con­sult our emo­tions for mak­ing those deci­sions. And if our emo­tions were dis­rupt­ed, it will real­ly impair our capac­i­ty to make those kinds of deci­sions. So this has led to the insight that emo­tions actu­al­ly play a real­ly key role. They can be both facil­i­tat­ing of our behav­ior and cog­ni­tive activ­i­ty, and they can also be a dis­rupter. It can go both ways. It’s not one way or the oth­er, but they’re an inti­mate part of every­thing that we do.

Dr Richard David­son — Neu­ro­sci­en­tist

How does empathy play a role?

It’s so impor­tant, real­ly impor­tant, and we know that empa­thy, which is, we think, a nec­es­sary pre­req­ui­site for kind­ness and com­pas­sion, starts with expe­ri­enc­ing in your body the emo­tions that anoth­er per­son may be expe­ri­enc­ing, in order to help take the per­spec­tive of anoth­er. And also, this is part of self-aware­ness. Hav­ing a bod­i­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this kind of expe­ri­ence enables us to become more famil­iar with it, and so, we can get back to it.

Dr Richard David­son — Neu­ro­sci­en­tist

Why “Sun” and “Moon” feelings?

… Hap­pi­ness occurs with­in a process of human flour­ish­ing. Inher­ent in this per­spec­tive is the under­stand­ing that dif­fi­cul­ty, strug­gles and even emo­tion­al and psy­cho­log­i­cal pain and stress are not things to be avoid­ed;

if expe­ri­enced in the pur­suit of growth, chal­lenges and pain can ulti­mate­ly con­tribute to a sense of deep mean­ing and ful­fill­ment. This, in turn, engen­ders hap­pi­ness.

Forbes: Are You A Delib­er­ate­ly Devel­op­men­tal Leader? Here’s Why You Should Be

Feel­ings can be help­ful to high­light met and unmet needs, and the healthy expres­sion of emo­tion — “wha­tu­manawa” — is a need of itself.

Research shows that nam­ing feel­ings is also a pow­er­ful way to bring peo­ple out of a fight/flight response.

To help peo­ple more quick­ly iden­ti­fy their own and oth­ers’ feel­ings and needs, we split the 100+ feel­ings into two sets — the “I’m feel­ing chal­lenged / in pain” set, and the “I’m feel­ing great” set.

Through user test­ing we dis­cov­ered that cat­e­goris­ing feel­ings as good or bad (or white and black) pre­vent­ed peo­ple from nam­ing and recog­nis­ing some of their feel­ings and fun­da­men­tal needs. In order for peo­ple to be dis­cov­er­ing and meet­ing all their needs in work­places and design­ing poli­cies, prod­ucts and ser­vices that meet oth­ers’ needs, we want­ed names for the feel­ing sets that would be intu­itive and removed from the labels ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

We have found inspi­ra­tion in the rich nat­ur­al metaphors and sto­ries of Te Ao Māori. The labels ‘Sun’ — Te Rā — and ‘Moon’ — Te Mara­ma have and con­tin­ue to work well for a diverse range of play­ers.