Putanga 4 – He whenua manapori pai a Aotearoa, kāwanatanga mai, kaunihera ā-rohe mai Outcome 4 – New Zealand is a well-functioning democracy across central and local government

Both central and local government have big impacts on the lives of New Zealanders. The smooth running of New Zealand’s democratic institutions is important to the accountability and transparency that gives people trust and confidence in democracy.

The mechanisms and support needed to make government functional contribute to people’s willingness and ability to participate in society.

Addressing complex issues requires co-operation and co-ordination across all of government, to be better able to tackle issues and pursue national objectives.

Intermediate outcomes

  • Executive government functions well through support, services and advice
  • Engagement between Māori and local government is strengthened
  • Government transparency is upheld
  • Local government works collectively to address national objectives.

Ngā Wā Hira - Highlights

  • $761 million to provide immediate post-COVID-19 stimulus to local authorities to maintain and improve three waters infrastructure
  • $72.5 million COVID-19 recovery package, which enabled the racing industry to restart racing
  • Increased the diversity on statutory boards with 54% of new appointments being of Asian, Māori and Pasifika descent, and nearly 50% of statutory positions now held by women.

How we are driving change to deliver our outcomes

Executive Government functions well through support, services and advice

The Department provides a range of services to Ministers, including office staff, VIP transport, and support to understand entitlements and obligations to allow Government to operate efficiently, effectively and transparently.

Bullying and harassment in the workplace

We delivered the first phase of a multi-year programme of work designed to address issues raised in the independent Francis Review, Bullying and Harassment in the New Zealand Parliamentary Workplace. We will continue to work with partners to progress this work in the 53rd Parliamentary term.

Supporting Royal visits

We supported the visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to New Zealand in November 2019. The visit from the Prince and Duchess highlighted the modern relationship between the Royal Family and New Zealand, and was an opportunity to demonstrate environmental awareness, wellbeing, diversity and social inclusion. A highlight of the tour was the first Royal visit to Waitangi since 1994.

Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall – Courtesy of © Mark Tantrum Photography

Emission-free Government vehicle fleet

We continue to show leadership in support of the Government’s goal of an emission-free government vehicle fleet by 2025/2026. We began to implement a plan to modernise and diversify the Crown fleet for VIP transport services, including increasing the percentage of electric capable vehicles in the wider Crown fleet to 40%, and we have commenced the upgrade of the charging infrastructure to accommodate an increasing electric vehicle fleet.

Supporting a well-functioning democracy

Racing Industry Bill

The Bill created the new Racing Industry Act 2020 and establishes the post-transition industry structure from 1 August 2020. The Racing Industry Transition Agency will be replaced by TAB NZ as the sole betting operator for New Zealand racing and sports. This is the final legislative response to the recommendations of the Messara Report, which was released in August 2018.

We helped deliver a $72.5 million COVID-19 recovery package, which enabled the racing industry to restart racing following the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown. The racing reform and industry COVID-19 recovery work has been progressed as part of our wider Gambling, Racing and Community Funding Programme, which will continue during 2020/21.

Review of Fire and Emergency New Zealand funding model

We supported and facilitated the review of the funding model for Fire and Emergency New Zealand to see if there is a fairer way of funding this essential emergency service. In addition to a consultation document, we hosted 13 public meetings and hui. We received submissions from a wide range of stakeholders including insurers, the Property Council, museums, forestry owners, Business New Zealand, local government, and members of the public and made a summary of the submissions available on our website. (Note: This work is now paused so that COVID-19 priorities can be progressed).

Review of online gambling

We have progressed the review of online gambling to ensure regulatory systems are fit-for-purpose for activities that are increasingly delivered in an online and digital environment. This review includes consideration of the future shape of the online gambling market and related options for harm minimisation. This work will continue in 2020/21.

Reform of media content regulation

We have progressed two bills on the regulation of media content.

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill was Introduced to the House of Representatives on 26 May 2020. The Bill provides regulatory powers to prevent and mitigate harms caused by objectionable publications.

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Commercial Video on-Demand) Amendment Bill was introduced on 10 December 2019. The Bill supports New Zealanders to make informed viewing choices by requiring commercial on-demand video providers to assess and label their content with age ratings and content descriptions. The Bill completed its Third Reading on 22 July 2020.

Engagement between Māori and local government is strengthened

Whenua Māori rating

We supported the introduction of amendments to the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 to support the development of, and provision of housing on, Māori freehold land and to modernise the rating legislation affecting Māori land.

Our Iwi/Māori engagement through the Three Waters review

To inform the policy decisions and the drafting of the legislation, consideration was given to understand Māori interests in the three waters regulatory system. This involved engagement with iwi/Māori and the development of a series of case studies about communities with a high Māori population that experience three waters issues. Led by officials from the Department, with participation from the Minister of Local Government, this engagement was designed to allow for face-to-face hui with specific groups identified as representing a cross-section of Māori communities and views. Engagement with iwi/Māori will continue throughout the course of establishing Taumata Arowai and the Three Waters Reform Programme.

Local government works collectively to address national objectives

Monitoring council performance

Where there are significant concerns, the Minister of Local Government may decide to intervene to manage the council and its issues. Particular attention was given to the Westland District Council, following ongoing concerns raised across a number of areas. In response to the Council taking active steps to avoid the need to install a Crown Observer, recognising the long-standing concerns, an Oversight Committee was established to monitor the Council’s activities and support the Council to resolve its issues. Through the proactive work of the Oversight Committee, the Council was able to lift its performance. The Oversight Committee has taken a similar proactive approach with other councils that have come to attention as needing support.

Local elections

The local authority elections were held in October 2019. The Department supports local authorities to run their own elections. We supported the Government’s response to the Justice Committee report Inquiry into the 2017 General Elections and 2016 Local Elections and are currently supporting the Committee in its inquiry into the 2019 Local Elections.


Infrastructure funding and financing – central and local government partnerships

The Department’s infrastructure funding and financing work has contributed to improvements essential to enabling more responsive infrastructure supply, improved cost allocations and affordable housing.

The Department and Treasury developed a new levy regime enabling entities independent of councils to raise finance and deliver infrastructure projects. Over time, this will help bring down the costs of serviced land in high-growth areas and deliver new homes and communities sooner than otherwise planned.

We also worked on developing comprehensive guidance for councils on development contribution policies and options for easing council debt limits. However, the Three Waters reform programme and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic substantially changed the context for this work.

Three Waters Reform

The Three Waters Review is a cross-government initiative led by the Minister of Local Government and supported by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry and the initial stages of the Three Waters Review found that the regulatory framework for drinking water is fragmented and ineffective, with comprehensive reform needed to ensure the safety of drinking water for New Zealanders. Both central and local government also agree there are broader challenges facing local government water services and infrastructure, and the communities that fund and rely on these services.

Regulatory reform

In line with the recommendations of the Havelock North Inquiry, the initial priority has been to comprehensively reform New Zealand’s drinking water regulatory framework. Following engagement with local government, iwi and Māori and water service experts, this has seen the development of new legislation and the creation of Taumata Arowai, the new Water Services Regulator. Taumata Arowai will oversee and enforce a new drinking water regulatory framework, with an additional oversight role for wastewater and stormwater networks.

Funding package and water service delivery reform

In July 2020, the Government announced a funding package of $761 million to provide immediate post-COVID-19 stimulus to local authorities to maintain and improve three waters infrastructure, and support reform of local government water services delivery arrangements.

Sector engagement

Design of the proposed new water service delivery arrangements will be informed by discussion with local government, iwi and Māori, the wider water services sector, and communities of interest. A joint Three Waters Steering Committee (comprised of local government elected members and chief executives, representatives of Local Government New Zealand, the Society of Local Government Managers, and central government officials) is providing oversight and guidance to support progress towards reform, and assisting engagement with local government, iwi and Māori and others.

Government transparency is upheld

Supporting statutory inquiries and Royal Commissions

We continue to develop and maintain the cross-government system of inquiries. We have enhanced trust in government and improved transparency by supporting statutory inquiries and Royal Commissions which investigate matters of national significance and effect positive change for New Zealanders. During the year, we provided administrative support to two Royal Commissions and two Government Inquiries:

  • the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions
  • the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Attack on Christchurch Mosques
  • the Government Inquiry into Auckland Fuel Supply Disruption (reported on 16 August 2019)
  • the Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and Related matters (reported on 17 July 2020).

Public Sector Information Management

Archives New Zealand delivered the first annual survey of public sector information management findings report to Parliament in October 2019. As part of Archives New Zealand’s monitoring framework, the 2018/19 annual survey set a baseline to allow future comparisons. As part of the survey design, we selected five key indicators to measure the overall state of government information management and provide a high-level perspective on whether information management within the public sector was improving, deteriorating or remaining stable. From these indicators, recommendations were made to help public offices and local authorities improve their practices and compliance with the Public Records Act 2005.

What are our indicators telling us?

The most recent results do show a small and gradual increase in the level of institutional trust and perceptions of government effectiveness.

There has been a small decline in the perception that New Zealand has low corruption in recent years. The higher the score the lower the perceived level of corruption. New Zealand remains one of the countries with the lowest perceived levels of corruption (New Zealand is ranked second on the Transparency International Perceptions of Corruption Index), despite the small decline in the score.

Satisfaction with local government services is being consistently maintained at a reasonably high level.

We are interested in the openness of data and the trend from recent Open Data Barometer reports has been for an increase in the perception of open government. The last report was two years ago and there has not been a recent report to show if this trend has continued.

Hapai Hapori

From left to right: Mere Paul (Chair of Te Ropu, Kōmiti Māori), Clare Toufexis (General Manager Community Operations), Janice Roxburgh-Gair (Manager Community Advisory Services Napier, Rotorua, Gisborne), Monteata Lafou, Norman Apriana, and Ray Ropata (Principal Advisor Māori, Hāpai Hapori) share kai.


Gambling, racing and community funding programme

COVID-19 affected the gambling system as all Class 4 venues and casinos were closed under alert levels 3 and 4. This, in turn, will affect community grants to New Zealand’s community and voluntary, arts, culture and sporting organisations relying on the proceeds of gambling to operate. At the same time, the number of people accessing unregulated offshore online gambling sites increased during lockdown as people stayed home.

A picture of ARCHIVES - New Zealand building


Tāhuhu: Preserving the nation’s memory

As the guardian of New Zealand’s documentary heritage and record of government since 1840, Archives New Zealand and the National Library hold irreplaceable taonga for the nation, and are legally bound to collect, preserve, protect, and make accessible this documentary heritage.