How we work

We have continued to build on the strong organisational capabilities which support us to deliver results for New Zealanders and make the Department a great place to work.

We’re demonstrating our success under three areas: managing our finances; lifting internal capability and optimising systems and infrastructure.

As well as harnessing new technologies, we’re also recognising the growing need to progress digital government. Digital government means using these technologies to suit citizens and their needs – not just ours. Doing this well means New Zealanders will have confidence in the work we’re doing, and the perception of the public service will flourish.

Managing our finances

During the 2018/19 year, the Department made progress on addressing the financial pressures stemming from static Crown funding and the need to agree sustainable passport fees in the future.


Securing funding through Budget 2019 to support the ongoing delivery of critical services such as RealMe, Government Digital Services and the Central/Local Government Partnerships function was a highlight for this year and demonstrates the Government’s confidence in our work.

The National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand also successfully secured funding to address some more immediate cost pressures, and to progress the Preserving the Nation’s Memory project to the design phase. External events within the year, including the Christchurch mosques attacks, significantly added to the Department’s priorities. As a result, additional funding was allocated to policy work and the Ethnic Communities portfolio.


The Department manages eleven memorandum accounts that fund the delivery of key products and services. It is important that these are tightly managed to ensure the ongoing financial sustainability of products and services that support New Zealanders.

The Department has carried out significant work this year to ensure our memorandum accounts are in good shape for now and the future, and to highlight areas that required further attention. In particular, the Department implemented a fee increase to cover the ongoing operating costs of issuing passports. This change ensures the corresponding memorandum account and cash position for the Department remains sustainable into the future.

We have started looking at options to replace our central support systems including our core financial management information system. We are actively working with central government to collaborate and leverage from other agencies’ system replacements and deliver a replacement system before the current systems’ end of life. This will be a key focus for us in the coming year.

Despite the additional funding received in Budget 2019, there are still ongoing financial risks for the Department over the medium to long term. To support this, the Department’s longer-term business strategies will identify investment options to mitigate and manage this risk.

Lifting internal capability

We continue to lift internal capability to deliver our common purpose and direction, core functions, and cross-government leadership responsibilities. In the future, the capability of our workforce will need to change to match the fast pace of change in digital technology and the new ways we will deliver our services.

We support our people to feel connected, empowered and valued. We continue to champion our principles and behaviours and Te Aka Taiwhenua mātāpono (values) as the foundations for how we work every day. This fosters an empowering workplace that values and connects us, and where everyone feels supported. This is reflected in our positive and stable industrial relations environment evidenced by quick and efficient collective bargaining completed in August 2018.

Spirit of Service

We recognise and celebrate the success of our people, and in 2018 we launched our He Iti Kahurangi Awards. The award categories are modelled on our Spirit of Service, mātāpono and our principles and behaviours. We also recognise individuals and business groups who have demonstrated commitment and achievement in improving health, safety and wellbeing in our workplace, and people who have contributed to the Department through long service. At the inaugural Public Service Awards in November 2018, our Taupō Harbourmaster was awarded the State Services Commissioner’s Commendation for Frontline Excellence.


We are focused on growing strong, capable and confident leaders, identifying and designing development activities which support the skills needed to adapt to workforce changes over the next decade.

We continued to run Te Hunga Kōhuri, our Core Leadership Programme, and our fourth cohort will graduate in September 2019.

All our people have talent and potential. We are committed to providing all our people with opportunities to build on their talents and to grow their capabilities. We reviewed and refreshed our talent management approach (including talent boards) for all people leaders, ensuring it aligns with annual development planning and with the State Sector Career Board approach.

He Tangata, Our People

Diversity and inclusion

We are diverse, having over 80 ethnic groups represented in our staff. With a wide-ranging portfolio, our diverse customers are at the heart of what we do, and we reflect, value and embrace this across our workforce and our workforce planning.


We also support inclusive and equitable work practices, and all our leaders have undertaken unconscious bias training to support them in managing diversity in the workplace.

This training has been promoted as a core offering across the public service by the State Services Commission.

We support diversity within the Department through our Authentic Self Network, Taha Moana Pacific Network, and Women’s Network. Our people are encouraged to participate in building their diversity capability through Te Reo workshops, our Leo o te Pasifika programme (celebrating the languages of Pacific peoples) and taking part in New Zealand Sign Language Week. In 2018 we held our first Pacific Fono since 2011, which focused on valuing, connecting and empowering our Pacific people. The next Pacific Fono will be held in August 2019.

We continue to address our gender pay gap and reduced the gap by 2% in 2018. To achieve this, we have focused on addressing pay gaps in like-for-like jobs and improving recruitment and selection processes. Existing gender diversity in governance and management roles gives us a good platform to build upon; and we are proud to have women representing half of our Executive Leadership Team.

Te Kurutao, our Māori leadership programme, builds Māori capability and capacity within the Department, by providing Māori staff the opportunity to develop their leadership potential in a cultural context. The programme is based on Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) with elements of existing leadership programmes within the Department, however its delivery is holistic in its approach and guided by Tikanga Māori values and philosophies.

2019 was the 4th year of Te Kurutao. Participants were hosted by Te Taura Whiri (Māori Language Commission) and Te Papa for wānanga, and in turn hosted visitors from Te Arawhiti (Crown/Māori relations portfolio). There was also a range of speakers from the Department who gave presentations about their respective leadership journeys.

At the completion of the programme participants will gain a new outlook of how they see themselves as Māori within the public sector and an understanding of how they contribute to achieving positive outcomes for Māori in their mahi and their personal lives.

Tier 2 and 3 people leaders. Female 49%, Male: 49%, Gender not specified: 2%.

Tier 2 and 3 People Leaders (%)

Engaging with our people

We took a new approach to engaging with our people, introducing Whakahoki Kōrero Your Feedback surveys as part of a continuous listening approach. These frequent, confidential surveys check in with our people on a range of issues, such as their experience of wellbeing, inclusion and diversity in our Department.

Our Speaking Up work reinforced our commitment to maintaining and upholding our standards of conduct. We are reviewing the key policies, information and support available to staff when speaking up about possible wrongdoing.


Being able to raise concerns about possible wrongdoing without fear of punishment or reprisal is vital in making sure the Department is a high-performing organisation and a great place to work and maintaining the integrity of our State Services.

Following the release of the Francis Review into bullying and harassment of staff within the parliamentary workplace, we are developing a programme of work for 2019/20 to consider the recommendations and to design and implement solutions addressing the concerns raised.

Strategic communications supported engagement across the organisation. We enhanced and protected the Department brand through issues and reputation management expertise and worked in partnership to communicate culture and capability across the organisation. We achieved this through a range of channels, including proactive media opportunities, marketing and online digital and social media.


The Department continues to be one of the lead agencies in the Māori Language Strategy Chief Executive Forum, advocating for the revitalisation in the use of Te Reo Māori across government.

Optimising systems and infrastructure

We continue to invest in changes to ensure that our people have the tools, resources and working environment they need to deliver on our outcomes. We have made it easier for our people to work remotely, by modernising our email software. Once configured, our people can now access their emails securely, anytime, anywhere, using any mobile device – resulting in greater productivity for our people. Staff have greater flexibility in how and where they work – whether it’s working in the community, delivering services from one of our many locations, or being based in an office.

The successful Tō Tātou Rohe (Our Place) fit-out in our Manukau and Pipitea Street sites continues to be extended to other sites as opportunities arise. In 2018/19 this included the Christchurch Archives building and will extend to other Wellington and Auckland offices in 2020. We are supporting relocation projects that will provide modern and flexible working environments.

Recognising the benefits of adopting all-of-government common capabilities in the ICT space, we continue to leverage these opportunities across our Department, supporting the shift towards more digitally-driven services.

The Department continues to deliver on its long-term strategic and stewardship focus through the enterprise governance framework and practices which were implemented in August 2018. This Governance Framework established three governance sub-committees: Risk and Assurance, Finance and Performance and the Investment Governance that assist the Executive Leadership Committee and Board with good practice advice and assurance for performance and accountability governance and decision making.

The Governance system was designed to support sound and sustainable long-term decision making, and to enable improved information flow from branches through Committees.

Good governance principles are in place with governance protocols and clear terms of reference for each committee. In addition to the internal Committees, the Department’s External Advisory Committee reconvened in June 2019, following the appointment of new members. The role of this committee is to provide independent advice and guidance to the Chief Executive and the wider Department. The Department will be evaluating the effectiveness of this framework early in 2020.


During 2018/19 we continued our property asset management programme to increase our understanding of our owned assets and continue strengthening our stewardship role.

The Department’s group of Information and Safety experts in Security and Risk, Health and Safety, Resilience and Recovery, Privacy, and Information Management teams focus on protecting our people, assets and information. The Group’s work programmes strengthen the Department’s capability and focus on managing the safety of our resources and people. In particular, this group provided essential support to the Department and wider government sector following the Christchurch mosques attacks of 15 March 2019.

Under the Inquiries Act 2013, the Department is responsible for providing Royal Commissions and Inquiries with support and advice on administrative matters. This includes management of risks relating to information (including privacy), security and the health and safety of those who work on or contribute to Royal Commissions and Inquiries.

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