National Institute for Health Innovation develops world’s first treatment app for gambling in New Zealand

A new mobile app named Manaaki is described by Gayl Humphrey, the study lead from UniServices' National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) at the University of Auckland, as “a support package in your pocket” for people seeking help with gambling harm.

Manaaki gambling support app

Manaaki (meaning ‘to extend mana to others and to encourage and urge on’ in Māori) is a world-first in its app-based offering, and Gayl explains it was conceptualised because there is a gap in the help available for people experiencing problems or harms from their gambling - especially those who find using or accessing current services difficult. Manaaki is about offering another avenue that gives people access to evidence-based help with problem gambling directly through an application on their phone. 

“Manaaki blends existing tools, strategies and evidence from traditional cognitive-behavioural therapy treatment and offers it in a ‘pick and mix’ snackable selection of modules that can arm people with the skills and insight they need to help quit harmful gambling habits.”

With researchers from Australia’s Deakin University, the Manaaki app puts a Kiwi spin on the Australian GAMBLINGLESS online problem gambling programme. Funded by a grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, a study to validate its effectiveness is underway and NIHI researchers are looking for participants who think they can help, or feel that they would like to better manage their gambling or quit gambling altogether, to give the Manaaki app a go over a 12-week period. 

Hāpai Te Hauora, which provides the national coordination for problem gambling harm prevention, is a partner in the app’s development and the research. Stephanie Erick, Kaiwhakahaere of Hāpai Te Hauora, says that the study’s launch out of lockdown is a timely opportunity to support people who may feel tempted to return to previous harmful gambling habits.

She says: “It is really important that we can take steps to provide other forms of support and in unprecedented times when online gambling is in promotion, developing mobile services makes so much sense. Communities are long overdue a suite of support tools and platforms that can reach more people and help them before their harmful gambling becomes problem gambling.

“People experiencing harms or problems from their gambling, are not always the first to put their hands up about accessing help. Whakama or shame is often a key reason for not seeking help. We don’t want this reluctance to mean that people don’t get the help that they need, so Manaaki has been designed as a way to support people to self-help by packaging evidence-based treatment into a readily accessible form, to use anytime and anywhere.”   

Are you or someone you know worried about gambling? Want to check out your gambling habits? NIHI invites people like you to help us find out if Manaaki can help people get their lives back. You can download Manaaki from the App Store or Google Play, visit the or contact  

The study has ethics approval from the New Zealand Health and Disability Ethic Committee and as a token to acknowledge the sharing of knowledge or mohiotanga in the study, participants receive a small koha for their involvement.

About the National Institute for Health Innovation

is a leading New Zealand research institute with a focus on delivering innovative approaches to today’s most pressing health problems. Supported by The University of ӰAPPand UniServices, NIHI provides independent scientific evidence that supports individuals, communities, clinicians and policy makers to improve people’s health in New Zealand and around the globe.