3. Competence and trust in New Zealand

Perceptions of the competence of government institutions are a key driver of overall trust in government. Competence can be thought of as government’s ability to deliver as per expectations (Nooteboom, 2007[1]). The OECD Framework on Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions identifies government competence as a key element in determining public trust (Table 1.1) (Brezzi et al., 2021[2])). There are two key drivers of competence. The first is responsiveness. This is the ability of government to provide efficient, quality, affordable, timely and citizen-centred public services that are co-ordinated across levels of government and which satisfy users; and government’s ability to operate an innovative and efficient civil service that responds to user needs. The second driver is reliability. OECD defines this as the ability of government to anticipate needs and assess evolving challenges; minimise uncertainty in the economic, social and political environment; and effectively commit to future-oriented policies and co-operate with stakeholders on global challenges.

51% of survey respondents in New Zealand consider government institutions to be competent to do their job (Figure 3.1). Respondents were asked to indicate how much they agreed with the statement “Government institutions are competent to do their job”, on a scale from 0 (fully disagree) to 10 (fully agree). 51% of survey respondents gave a score of 6 out of 10 or higher, indicating that they agreed government institutions were competent. However, 32% gave a score of 4 or lower, indicating that they do not believe government institutions are competent. While a minority, this is a significant proportion of the population. 15% expressed a neutral opinion, and just under 3% did not know. This question was included specifically in the survey in New Zealand as an overall measure of perceptions of the competence of government institutions. Comparative data for other countries is not available.

Women, Māori and those with lower incomes and less formal education are less likely to consider government to be competent (Figure 3.2). There are substantial differences across society in New Zealand in how government competence is viewed. The most dispersed opinions are found when comparing across ethnic groups. Māori (41%) and Pacifica (41%) are unlikely to consider government is competent, while those of Asian backgrounds (69%) have the most positive ranking of government competence of any group in society. People of European background have average levels of belief in government competence (49%). This is consistent with differences identified in chapter two, which finds that Māori have lower average trust levels while Asians have higher average trust levels.

Income level is strongly related with perceptions of competence. 73% of those in the top 25% of income levels considered government institutions to be competent, compared to 62% of those on middle income levels, and 54% of those with low incomes. Education is also a significant division. Only 39% of those with lower education levels (primary only) consider government to be competent, the lowest of any group in the survey, compared to 57% among those with higher education levels (tertiary upward). Women (48%) also rank competence lower than men (55%). Age is the only demographic variable which does not have a strong relationship with perceptions of the competence of government institutions. 47% of people aged 18-24, and 48% of those aged 25-19, consider government institutions to be competent, compared to 50% of middle-aged people (aged 30-49) and 53% of older people (aged 50+). 

People living in more urban areas tend to have a somewhat more positive view of government competence (Figure 3.3). A majority of people living in Wellington (53%), Auckland (55%) and Waikato (56%) agreed that government institutions are competent to do their job. By contrast, only 45% of people living in other areas of the North Island held this view. On the South Island, 50% of people living in the Canterbury region agreed that government institutions are competent to do their job, compared to 47% of people living elsewhere on the South Island. Regional differences are likely to reflect the combined effects of many different factors. These will likely include demographic differences, differences in income levels, and other differences between regions. Notably, more densely populated and urbanised regions will typically allow public services to be closer and more easily available for residents.

There is some evidence that concentrations of very low confidence exist among people with more than one of these characteristics. The OECD Trust Survey is designed to be nationally representative for New Zealand including by gender, geography, ethnicity, education and income. However, it did not interview enough people to allow for statistically robust analysis of detailed sub-groups of the population. Nonetheless, the data provides interesting indicative information suggesting that concentrations of low confidence may be present among people who have 2 or more of the characteristics noted above. As shown in Table 3.1, very low proportions of young Māori (31%) and Māori women (34%) who answered the survey perceived government institutions as competent. Moreover, there remains a risk that people who are systematically distrustful of government are less likely to be reached by a survey of this sort. Those are systematically distrustful are less likely to share personal details and appear on the list of candidates to take the survey. Even if they are reached, they may be more likely to refuse to complete the survey. As such, it is possible that this data may underrepresent the concentrations which exist.

This chapter first examines government responsiveness, with a focus on public service delivery, and then government reliability, covering government’s ability to protect citizens from economic, environmental and public safety risks. New Zealand exhibits good practice in a range of areas, and delivered a highly effective response to the COVID-19 crisis (Chapter 1). However, these successes must be set alongside major delivery issues in various sectors e.g. housing, water quality, education, child poverty (see Chapter 4). Improving trust requires minimising these in future.

The first pillar of government competence within the OECD Trust Framework is Responsiveness. This refers to two aspects of government operation. First is the ability of government to provide efficient, quality, affordable, timely and citizen-centred public services that are co-ordinated across levels of government and satisfy users. Second is the ability to operate an innovative and efficient civil service that responds to user needs. Aspects of responsiveness, in particular satisfaction with public services, are key drivers of trust in the public service (Figure 2.18). To a lesser extent, responsiveness is an important driver of trust in local councillors and in parliament. The OECD trust survey implemented in New Zealand captures elements of responsiveness through the following three questions.

  • How dissatisfied or satisfied are you with the education system/health system/administrative services in New Zealand?  

  • If many people complained about a government service that is working badly, how unlikely or likely do you think it is that it would be improved?  

  • If there is an innovative idea that could improve a public service, how unlikely or likely do you think it is that it would be adopted?

57% of survey respondents have confidence in New Zealand’s government to deliver good quality public services (Figure 3.4). Respondents were asked to rate their level of confidence a score on a scale from 0 (no confidence at all) to 10 (full confidence). A majority, 57%, provided a response of 6 or higher, indicating overall confidence in government institutions.

Māori and Pacifica, women and people with less education or lower income have less confidence in government to deliver good quality public services (Figure 3.5). Compared to the national average of 57%, Māori (-13 percentage point, or pp) and Pacifica (-16pp) expressed much less confidence in the capacity of institutions to deliver good public services than those of European background. Only a minority of Māori and Pacifica expressed confidence. In contrast, those from Asian backgrounds (+13pp) were much more confident than Europeans. Respondents with high income (+13pp) were more confident than those with low income. Those with high education levels (+15pp) expressed much more confidence in public services than those with low or middle education levels. Men (+ 7pp) expressed significantly more confidence than women. Older people (+8pp) were significantly more confident than the youngest cohort (+ 7pp). There were no significant differences in confidence between very young, young and middle aged people.

Improving responsiveness of public services is the area with the highest potential for impacting trust in the public service in New Zealand (Figure 2.18). As such, it is reviewed in depth here, from three different perspectives: identifying services with lower satisfaction; identifying how to improve responsiveness across all services; and level of government at which services are delivered.

Among services examined, respondents were least satisfied with education. Satisfaction with healthcare was also lower than in other small advanced economies and anglophone countries. Survey respondents were asked to indicate how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with the education, healthcare and administrative services in New Zealand as a whole, on a scale from 0 (not at all satisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied) (Figure 3.6). The lowest scoring public service was public education, where 50% of New Zealand residents reported being satisfied with New Zealand’s education system (a score of 6 or higher). Satisfaction with the education system was somewhat below the average across the 22 other OECD countries which took part in the survey (58%). It is also below the small advanced economies and other anglophone countries used as key comparators for New Zealand.

54% of respondents in New Zealand were satisfied with the healthcare system. While this is a majority of the population, it is substantially lower than the average of 64% across all other OECD countries which took part in the survey. Finally, a large majority of respondents (68%) were most satisfied with administrative services. This is above 63% observed on average in OECD countries. This is the only service which a majority of respondents in all sub-groups reported they were satisfied with. 

Among public services, improvements to the education system appear likely to have the biggest impact on trust. Education was the service with which the public were least satisfied in OECD’s survey. Low citizen satisfaction with education services is matched by declining performance of the education system over the past 15-20 years. Scores of New Zealand school students aged 15-16 have fallen in reading, mathematics and science over this period. In mathematics, declines have been sharpest on average for Māori and Pacifica groups, increasing disparity in learning levels (Figure 3.7)

The New Zealand Government’s recent review of the school system recognises a lack of trust in the system. A recent review notes that a key reason for New Zealand’s poor equity and achievement outcomes is that, since the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms in 1989, schools have predominantly operated as autonomous, self-managing entities, loosely connected to each other, and with a distant relationship with the centre. This autonomy has left schools to operate largely on their own and without sufficient support. The report notes that schools and parents expressed a lack of trust, including that the necessary support will be available when it’s needed. Schools and parents expressed frustration at the lack of consistent and accessible support from government agencies, and that some of this is caused by a relative lack of Ministry of Education staff at the front line, and the need for stronger, more focused relationships with schools, and greater clarity about the respective roles in the sector (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2019[3]).

Reforms to the education sector should actively seek to improve accessibility and quality of education in New Zealand. OECD research shows that around 80% of the variation in satisfaction levels across countries is related to standards for accessibility, responsiveness and quality in service delivery (Baredes, 2022[6]). Table 3.2 presents a “citizen scorecard” for New Zealand, showing how it ranks among OECD nations for the accessibility, responsiveness and quality of education and healthcare services. For each indicator, the table shows New Zealand’s rank among OECD countries, and arrows show whether New Zealand’s absolute performance has improved or worsened in recent years. Metrics coloured in grey indicate New Zealand does not perform substantially differently to the average across OECD countries (i.e. is within one standard deviation of the mean of OECD countries). Metrics coloured green indicate NZ performs substantially above the OECD average (i.e. more than one standard deviation above the mean). 

In terms of quality of service delivery, New Zealand scores 22nd in the OECD in the proportion of variation in reading performance which is explained by socio-economic background (Table 3.2). This means that children from households which are economically, socially or culturally disadvantaged1 in New Zealand find it more difficult to perform well in school than in many other OECD countries. In terms of accessibility of education, New Zealand ranks 28th across all OECD countries on private expenditure on education. Private sources accounted for 16% of total expenditure in pre-primary institutions, similar to the OECD average of 17%. However, at tertiary level, 47% of expenditure comes from private sources in New Zealand, compared to 30% on average across OECD countries (OECD, 2021[7]).

While Māori and Pacifica are intrinsically diverse special attention is due to how Māori and Pacifica experience the education system. These groups express, on average, lower satisfaction with public services in general, and the education system in particular. Satisfaction scores for the education system among Māori and Pacifica (39% and 37% respectively) are among the lowest score of any group for any service. Recent government research into the experiences of Māori in the education systems noted “the lack of appropriate and meaningful ways to connect in mainstream English-medium schools, compounded by implicitly or explicitly negative expectations of teachers and peers”, as well as direct experiences of racism (Children's Commissioner, 2018[9]). The results of OECD’s survey suggest that improving the experience of Māori with the education system is an important issue in building long-term trust between Māori citizens and government institutions.

Ensuring services are responsive and citizen-centric requires governments to improve service delivery based on feedback on individual needs, experiences and complaints. Different groups in society need different public services. They interact with public institutions and in different ways. For example, young people have more interaction with the education system, people with lower incomes have more interaction with the social protection system. Different groups can have systematically different experiences, and systematically different problems, when using public services. To improve trust, governments must understand and respond to the needs of different groups of citizens.

Only 43% of respondents felt that if many people complained about a government service that is working badly, it would be improved (Figure 3.8). A large minority of respondents (38%) felt that public institutions in New Zealand are unlikely to respond to complaints and concerns. Perceptions of the responsiveness of New Zealand’s government are slightly higher than the average across other OECD countries (40%). However, there is room to improve, as shown by the gap to small advanced economies and English-speaking comparator countries, such as the Netherlands (50%) and Canada (48%). The leader across all OECD countries on this metric, not shown in the graph, is Korea (58%).

Women, young people, Pacifica and Māori groups, and people with financial concerns or fewer years of education are on average less satisfied with public services than others (Figure 3.9). The groups which reported less satisfaction with public services are very similar to those which regarded government as being less competent (Table 3.1). First, men are substantially more satisfied than women in their experiences with public services. This applies across all services, and in particular to healthcare, where only 48% of women were satisfied with services, compared to 61% of men. Second, people with more years in education tend to be much more satisfied with public services than others. This is particularly true with the education system and with administrative services. Third, in some cases, younger people (18-30) are less satisfied than older generations. A similar proportion of younger and older people are satisfied with healthcare. However, there is a very large differential in satisfaction with education, with only 40% of 18-24 year olds satisfied, compared to more than 50% in older age groups. Younger people are also much less satisfied with administrative services than older people. Fourth, people in the bottom 25% of households by income were much less satisfied with all services than others. Finally, people living in or near New Zealand’s main cities appear to be more satisfied with public services. People living on the South Island are generally less satisfied with public services than those living on the North Island.

OECD’s review noted examples of government institutions in New Zealand following good practice in operating feedback mechanisms for New Zealanders using their services. At national level, the quarterly Kiwi’s Count survey provides a regular national snapshot of trust and satisfaction with public services (Te Kawa Mataaho | Public Service Commission, 2022[10]). Further surveys operate at sector level. A notable example is the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) oversees provision of a range of public benefits. It is the second largest public agency in New Zealand, and serves around a quarter of the population. MSD operates large scale surveys of users, providing a formal route for feedback on service quality and offer suggestions on improvements. In 2019/20, MSD collected over 70,000 survey responses and more than 150,000 comments (New Zealand Ministry of Social Development, 2020[11]). In other cases, government institutions have collaborated with researchers to examine service delivery, and proactively identify how better to design services for particular groups in the population (Lips, Barlow and Woods, 2016[12]).

Regular feedback mechanisms combined with sub-group analysis have proven to be an effective tool in improving public service responsiveness in many OECD countries. Box 3.1 offers examples of various mechanisms which OECD and other countries are using to ensure citizens views are systematically addressed in service delivery. Australia’s TAPS survey is similar to Kiwis Count, but operates at a larger scale, allowing more insight into sub-groups. France operates a continuous service improvement program, with an online platform for public feedback. Singapore operates a cross-government system for tracking satisfaction and feedback on digital services, and provides performance information to help identify improvements. Korea’s public, which has the most positive perception of government responsiveness among OECD countries, can use a petitions system to request changes in delivery or government policy.

The examples in Box 3.1 differ in the form of information they gather. However, each institutes a different systemic approach to service improvement. Governments gather regular and representative data on the experiences of service users, supplemented where possible with qualitative feedback from users. In each example, government institutes a regular and formalised feedback loop to senior managers with the authority to direct changes in delivery. Each has governance mechanisms in place to ensure recommendations for service delivery are followed up. Finally, and importantly, each allows for public reporting of issues identified and how they have been resolved. This is important both for transparency, and for helping the public to update their judgements on the responsiveness of government institutions.

Public agencies delivering frontline services in New Zealand should ensure they are comfortable that they have effective feedback loops in place. This would involve having systematic and regularly used systems for gathering and analysing user feedback. In particular, public agencies should ensure that the information they collect is suitable for accurately identifying problems faced by different subgroups of users.

Work to improve responsiveness should include specific focus on identifying the issues being faced by social groups which on average express lower satisfaction: Māori and Pacifica, women, young people and those with fewer years of education or lower income. The OECD survey presented in this report consistently shows that improving public service provision for these groups is critical to improving national levels of trust in government. Data in this study points to a need for particular attention to some Māori and Pacific groups interactions with the education system, and provision of administrative services to young people.

Delivering responsive public services implies tailoring delivery to the needs of individuals, regions or communities. OECD noted that “more engagement and partnering with communities to develop services they want and that work for them” is an important expectation for New Zealand’s public services over the next three years (Te Kawa Mataaho | Public Service Commission, 2022[13]). In New Zealand, this must be done in a context in which public services are largely delivery through central government agencies. Overall, 89% of public expenditure in New Zealand is delivered through central government, the second highest level in the OECD, after Ireland (Figure 3.10). Local government provides cultural and recreational facilities and is responsible for local regulatory services. It also plays a role in public investment, including managing water services. However, local government has a smaller policy role than in most OECD countries. It is not responsible for health, social protection or education. OECD has previously noted that local government councils are often perceived as technical bodies for providing key infrastructure to citizens (Vammalle and Bambalaite, 2021[14]).

New Zealand’s demography often creates a dynamic towards national or regional-level public agencies managing front-line service delivery. The country has a relatively small and dispersed population. Centralised management can generate efficiencies of scale in infrastructure provision, access to funding and technical expertise. In some services, devolved responsibility has contributed to delivery failures. A clear example is the water sector. Most New Zealanders receive water services from their local councils, who own and operate the infrastructure. In 2016, an outbreak of gastroenteritis affecting up to 5,500 people was traced to contaminated drinking water. A review found that local councils faced issues in accessing the finance and specialised personnel required to maintain and upgrade water infrastructure (New Zealand Government, 2019[15]). To address these issues, the central government proposes to aggregate all water services delivery into four water regional services entities (New Zealand Government, 2022[16]). The education sector, cited above, may also be an example. Insufficient access to central support and technical expertise are cited by New Zealand’s government as having contributed to under-performance in schools.

Similar dynamics are also seen in Norway and Finland, which have the most similar population size and density to New Zealand among OECD countries. In Finland, local government accounts for 28% of public expenditure, and management of the health system is decentralised. Finland plans to reduce 195 local health organisations to 22 local boards in 2023, and also to set up a single national rescue service. (Government of Finland, 2022[17]). Norway manages most public expenditure and services via central government, similar to New Zealand. It has recently created a more centralised police force. However, while structural reform of the police has improved technical capability, it has not improved local presence, and public satisfaction has fallen (Box 3.2).

As illustrated by the case of Norway, the effects of centralisation / decentralisation of services have an ambiguous effect on trust. Decentralisation can help governments to tailor service delivery to local needs, and also expand citizen participation by bringing government closer to citizens. However, decentralisation may result in a loss of economies of scale and in fragmentation of public policies. Determining optimal subnational unit size is therefore of utmost importance. This is a context-specific task, and varies by country, region and policy area (OECD, 2019[20]). Noting New Zealand’s relatively centralised structure, there are three fronts for advancing service responsiveness.

First is to support greater cross-operation across central government agencies which deliver services. This is helpful wherever improved delivery requires 2 or more central government agencies to interact. Work on this front is already well advanced and is central in New Zealand’s public sector reform agenda. New Zealand has made reforms to enable greater collaboration across government agencies and greater data sharing (see section 3.1.2 below), and reports that these have already supported better tailoring public services to local needs (Te Kawa Mataaho | Public Service Commission, 2022[13]).

Second is to take considered decisions on the internal delegation of decision making within central government agencies which deliver services. This means agencies working consciously to strike an appropriate balance between granting autonomy on practical delivery issues to the relevant front line officials, while maintaining overall quality of delivery through central quality controls, delivery standards, performance monitoring and technical support. Issues of managerial culture, staff turnover, and building institutional memory are also important in maintaining operational capability.

OECD did note examples of conscious decisions on devolving decision-making both in discussions with officials and in action. One example is the major health system reform of July 2022, which aims for a system which is “nationally planned, regionally delivered and locally tailored”. 20 independent district health boards have been replaced with a single national health agency. The national health agency will manage overall planning and delivery for the health system, hospitals and specialist care. It will contain four regional boards which will plan primary and community health services. Local health networks will advise on local needs and support implementation (New Zealand Government, 2022[21]).

Third is to ensure appropriate capability and funding for services delivered by local governments. This would appear to be the area in which New Zealand faces greatest challenges. An ongoing review of local government has indicted that they face issues including financial pressure, varying capacity levels, overlapping responsibilities with central government, and an “unfunded mandate” to enforce regulation or deliver services mandated by central government. Underlying this is “…a culture of mistrust between central and local government. At governance, management and staffing levels there is little cross-pollination between central and local government, and much mutual misunderstanding about respective roles” (Review into the Future of Local Government, 2021[22]). The OECD’s Guidelines for Effective Decentralisation outline how best to promote local democracy, efficient public service delivery and regional development via decentralised bodies (OECD, 2019[20]). Important guidelines for New Zealand include:

  • The way responsibilities are shared should be explicit, mutually understood and clear for all actors. This is critical for accountability, monitoring and effectiveness of investment and service delivery policies.

  • Access to finance should be consistent with functional responsibilities. Division of financing responsibilities should ensure there are no unfunded or underfunded assignments or mandates.

  • Subnational governments need own-source revenues beyond grants and shared tax revenues.

  • Central government should assess capacity challenges in the different regions on a regular basis. Special public agencies accessible to multiple jurisdictions should be encouraged in areas of needed expertise.

  • Higher level governments need to monitor subnational performance in critical service areas based upon a minimum set of standardised indicators and provide timely feedback, as well as benchmark inter-local performance in service delivery.

This section examines New Zealand’s government’s ability to operate an innovative and efficient civil service that responds to citizen needs. Much of the operation of the civil service is an upstream process and is often not visible to citizens. Nonetheless, it has strong effects on the capability of government to deliver. The section will examine a core set of competencies: innovation capacity, digital government, and policy coherence. 

OECD noted as part of its review that the structure of New Zealand’s public service has recently been revised with a view to creating the capacities required to improve and sustain public trust. The Public Service Act 2020 (New Zealand Govenment, 2020[23]) made a number of reforms intended to “help the Public Service join up services around New Zealanders’ needs and secure public trust and confidence, so it remains well placed to serve New Zealand in the future” (Te Kawa Mataaho | Public Service Commission, 2022[13]) (Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission, 2020[24])

The act makes reforms in five key areas. First, the act aims to create a “unified” public service, elucidating a core set of public service values and principles, and applying to all public servants in government ministries and range of other “crown agencies”. (New Zealand Government, 2020[25]). The principles are that public servants should be impartial, accountable, trustworthy, respectful and responsive. These public service principles are closely aligned with the pillars of OECD’s trust framework. Second, the act aims to strengthen the Māori-Crown relationship, including by developing and maintaining public service capacity to engage with Māori, and continuing to mandate an employment policy which support Māori. Third, the act sets standards for supporting diversity, pay equality, and inter-agency movement of public servants.

OECD also noted that the reform aims to create a public service in which agencies are highly aligned in their goals, while having high autonomy to collaborate and find effective ways of achieving them (Hughes and Scott, 2021[26]). Mechanisms for improving collaboration across central government agencies are well elaborated. The Public Service Act seeks to improve planning for development of senior leaders, as well as creating powers for senior public service leaders to tackle “system wide” issues affecting management and delivery across public sector entities. Finally, the act creates new administrative structures which allow public agencies to more easily collaborate to deliver on priorities which cut across institutional boundaries or responsibilities (Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission, 2020[27])

43% of survey respondents in New Zealand feel that if there is an innovative idea that could improve a public service, the government is likely to adopt it. This is above the OECD average (38%), and compares well with countries in the benchmark group such as Canada (48%) and Netherlands (50%).  

Innovation in the public sector, understood in a broad sense, is important for maintaining public trust in government over time. Existing structures, processes and interventions are not always the most appropriate or effective means for the public sector to deliver on government priorities and citizen expectations. In the public sector, the level of innovation that will happen by default is unlikely to be sufficient or sustained without confronting the systemic biases for maintaining and replicating the status quo. The latter is a by-product of the need for government and its operations to be stable and dependable. Public sector organisations therefore need to be able to innovate, consistently and reliably, so new approaches can be deployed when and where needed. To reliably and consistently innovate, public sector organisations need to take a deliberate approach to innovation management, one which builds on previous efforts (OECD, 2019[28]).

New Zealand performs somewhat above the OECD average in implementation of digital government reforms. The most recent OECD Digital Government Index ranked New Zealand 11th out of 29 OECD countries covered. New Zealand outperformed the OECD average overall, and in areas including; openness in fostering the use of technologies and data to communicate and engage in policy making and service design with different actors; and equipping public servants to design policies and deliver digital services. New Zealand slightly lagged the OECD average in the extent to which it delivered data and digital services to the public without waiting for formal requests (OECD, 2020[29]).

A potential impediment to use of digital technologies by the government has been the absence of data companies based in New Zealand. This has been interpreted as a barrier because data stored, processed or transmitted by cloud services could be subject to legislation and regulation in the countries where data are stored (this also raises potential questions around sovereignty over data relating to Māori). Decisions by several major digital companies to establish datacentres in New Zealand is likely to remove any data sovereignty issue, enabling the government to use cloud computing more intensively and adopt other data-intensive digital technologies (OECD, 2022[30])

New Zealand has demonstrated the capacity for public sector innovation and service transformation in recent years. The leading example is the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), which has recently completed a multi-year modernisation program, aimed at improving digital delivery and customer service. IRD reports that usage volumes on its digital portal have tripled, with 99% of individual tax payments now made online. 99.5% of COVID support applications have also been made online. The workforce of the Department has been reduced by 28%, cutting running costs (Inland Revenue Department, 2022[31]). The external auditor has provided a positive appraisal of this program though noting benefits will need to be monitored until 2023/24 before it can be determined whether benefits outweigh costs (New Zealand Controller and Auditor-General, 2020[32]). OECD has also previously profiled New Zealand’s “Better Rules” initiative. This project sought to transform laws and regulations into sets of machine-readable code, with the aim of developing routines which could help to remove ambiguity and misjudgement in the application of regulations and legislation. (OECD, 2019[33]).

To improve trust, New Zealand will need to ensure active promotion of innovation in government and support networking. OECD’s typology of organisations for innovation in the public sector identifies 5 types of agencies: 1) Promoting innovation across government; 2) Promoting service improvement in functional areas; 3) Develop and test innovative solutions; 4) Funding innovation; and 5) Developing capacity for innovation and networking (OECD, 2017[34]). New Zealand has some support in place to fund public sector innovation, including the GovTech Accelerator (Creative HQ, n.d.[35]) and the recently closed Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund (New Zealand Government, n.d.[36])

There may be scope to improve in promoting innovation across government and developing innovative solutions. New Zealand has lacked a dedicated cross-agency centre for developing and testing innovative solutions, and supporting networking across government, since the closure of the Service Innovation Lab in 2020 (Service Innovation Lab, 2020[37]). The Digital Public Service branch of the Department of Internal Affairs has taken over the role of providing services to government agencies in delivering integrated digital services (New Zealand Government, 2020[38]). This partially replicates functions, and as a relatively small government by workforce, New Zealand may have somewhat lower internal barriers to networking and cross-agency collaboration than others. A more systematic consideration of how agencies can be incentivised to develop and test innovative solutions, and develop capacity for innovation and networking, may improve innovation standards.

Appropriate and effective use of citizen’s data is an increasingly important aspect of government reliability. In an increasingly digital world, citizens submit a range of personal data to government through their interactions with public services and activities to comply with laws and regulations. Data on individual citizens can be used to increase trust in public institutions, by improving service delivery and evaluate the effectiveness of policies. However, public institutions must also safeguard against violations of privacy or other inappropriate uses, which could damage trust. Most versions of the OECD trust survey contained the question “If you share your personal data with a [public agency/office], how likely or unlikely do you think it is that it would be exclusively used for legitimate purposes?” This question was not contained in the survey questionnaire used in New Zealand. Hence it is not possible to gauge public attitudes on issues of data privacy. However, surveys conducted by New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner have found that 61% of New Zealanders are concerned about government agencies sharing their personal information without permission. Only 26% feel they have a good idea of how their personal information is used by government (New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, 2020[39]).

New Zealand performs above the OECD average on openness of government data. The most recent OECD Open, Useful, Reusable Data Index (OURData) ranked New Zealand scored 12th out of 32 OECD countries on data openness. The OURData index benchmarks the design and implementation of open data policies in central government. New Zealand slightly outperformed the OECD average on data availability and data accessibility, and demonstrated strong improvement in the support from the government to increase data literacy skills among public servants (Perez, Emilsson and Ubaldi, 2019[40]).

New Zealand collects a range of data from citizens, which is held digitally and in some cases combined. New Zealand operates a range of digital government services, each of which may collect data about users of the service. Data from various sources is combined within the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). This is a large research database maintained by Statistics New Zealand. It integrates anonymised individual-level data on health, education, justice, benefits, housing, socio-economic issues and other topics. The IDI is used to improve citizen welfare, by assessing and evaluating the effects of government policies. It is used both by government agencies and academic researchers. To manage privacy concerns, data held in the IDI is de-identified i.e. names, birthdates and other information which identifies individuals is removed. Access to the data is governed by the “Five Safes” rules (Tatauranga Aotearoa Stats New Zealand, 2022[41]). This review noted these multiple appropriate safeguards, and also the transparent online documentation of government regulations governing data use. The IDI allows for the rapid evaluation of the outcomes and costs associated with government service provision for different people and services from existing data sources. In principle, it could be used to support more detailed analysis of how interactions with government services shape trust and satisfaction than is possible with survey vehicles like Kiwis count.

New Zealand is modernising laws, regulations and infrastructure to enable greater usage of administrative data about individuals and businesses, including greater sharing across government agencies. The aim is of greater re-use of digital data is to support better service delivery for citizens. The new Data and Statistics Bill aims to “continue to provide appropriate safeguards and protections to ensure public trust and confidence in the collection and use of data for official statistics and research” (Tatauranga Aotearoa Statistics New Zealand, 2021[42]). The bill has generated vigorous public debate around the appropriate governance and limits of data sharing in government (Daalder, 2021[43]). (Te Mana Matapono Matatapu | Privacy Commissioner, 2022[44]) (New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, 2022[45]). A new Digital Identity Services Trust Framework bill has also been tabled in parliament (New Zealand Parliament, 2021[46]). From a civil service perspective, New Zealand’s digital identity trust framework sets out a regulatory framework establishing rules for providing digital identity services (New Zealand Government, n.d.[47]). The 2021 Government Data Strategy and Roadmap provides an overarching plan for New Zealand’s government data system. It aims to enable data held by public agencies to be integrated and shared for public benefit. The roadmap acknowledges that the data system relies on a high trust environment. It specifies a activities “designed to build and maintain trust and confidence in the data” (New Zealand Government, 2021[48]).

New Zealand could potentially improve trust by allowing citizens greater visibility as to what data government holds about them, and how it is used. At present, citizens can request a record of the data held about them by individual agencies using the Privacy Commissioner’s “About Me” tool (New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, n.d.[49]). However, requests must be made to each individual agency separately. Moreover, government is not able to provide information about how data held by different agencies is linked. As such, citizens may find it difficult to access or understand the full range of data government holds about them, or their community, and how it is used. Other OECD countries provide substantially more transparency to the public on how their personal data is used. Box 3.3 highlights Estonia, which allows citizens to have quick and easy access to key data which government holds about them, and the purposes it has been used for. However, the trade-off for enabling this transparency is that individuals must hold a unique electronic ID, used for all interactions with public services.

This section summarizes key results and presents potential policy avenues to improve responsiveness and strengthen public trust.

  • 43% of New Zealanders believe that government will improve a service when people complain, while 38% are sceptical that the service would be improved. Findings show that responding to people’s complaints on service provision is the most important driver of trust in the public service There is room for improving delivery and responsiveness of public services by ensuring that all frontline services have effective and regularly used feedback loops on citizen experience. Ensure all agencies are routinely analysing the experience of different population groups and communities. Among public services, improvements to the education system appear likely to have the biggest impact on trust.

  • New Zealand has a highly centralised government, with limited local government involvement in service delivery. Just 45% of the population reported trusting local government, the lowest of the benchmarking group of countries. Local government policy should actively consider the local government roles and competences needed to boost responsiveness. New Zealand could also consider putting in place institutional mechanisms to help citizens to seek redress for issues with local government.

  • In line with many OECD countries, just over 40% of New Zealanders see the public sector as innovative. Enhancing digital government and innovation Build on successful digital reforms in taxation to improve delivery elsewhere. Strengthen public sector innovation through greater focus on cross-agency learning and collaboration mechanisms.

  • Transparency in use of citizens’ data - Allow citizens greater visibility as to what data government holds about them, and how it is used.

The second component of government competence within the OECD trust framework is Reliability. This refers to a number of interrelated aspects of government functioning. First is the ability to anticipate needs and assess evolving challenges. Second is the ability to minimise uncertainty in the economic, social and political environment. Third is the capability to effectively commit to future-oriented policies. Fourth, and relatedly, is the ability to co-operate with stakeholders on global challenges. This section examines in more detail how New Zealanders experience the reliability of public institutions.

Most New Zealanders (60%) have confidence in government institutions to protect citizens. This high level of confidence is shared across many groups in society. The groups with less confidence include people aged 18-29, people with fewer years of formal education, and especially Māori and Pacifica (each 49%) (Figure 3.12)

Similarly, a majority of New Zealanders (52%) also have confidence in government institutions to consider the interests of future generations. 32% did not have confidence. The groups with less confidence include people aged 18-29, people with fewer years of formal education, and especially Māori (40%) and Pacifica (37%) (Figure 3.15). This question is important with regard to confidence in government to tackle environmental and other long-term challenges to wellbeing. Directly comparable-OECD data on this question is not available as this is the first time the question has been included in the OECD trust survey. However, evidence from 4 OECD countries shows that people are less willing to support environmental policy, even when they believe it is necessary, when they do not trust government will be effective in delivering it (Fairbrother, Johansson Sevä and Kulin, 2019[52]).

This section looks in more depth at opportunities for actions to improve citizen perceptions of the reliability of government institutions in New Zealand. To do this, it is ordered into four sub-sections, each examining a key functional area in which government helps to prevent risks and protect citizens. a) First, and most fundamentally, it examines government’s ability to protect citizens safety and deliver in a resilient fashion in the face of disasters. Second it looks at issues related to ensuring a stable economy, in which everyone benefits from rising average living standards over time. Third, this chapter examines New Zealand’s social protection system. This is the means by which government ensures that New Zealanders are supported when they experience shocks (unemployment, recessions, etc) and supports those who have less advantages or opportunities. Finally, the chapter examines environmental protection and climate change action. These are the key long-term challenges which governments today must grasp in order to secure the wellbeing of citizens in the future. These four areas are not a complete list of issues a potentially relevant to reliability, rather they are chosen to focus on key actionable topics.  

Further elements of reliability are captured through other questions in the OECD trust survey:

  • If a new serious contagious disease spreads, how unlikely or likely do you think it is that government institutions will be ready to act to protect people’s lives? 

  •  How unlikely or likely do you think it is that the business conditions the government can influence (e.g. laws and regulations businesses need to comply with) will be stable and predictable? 

  • How confident are you that New Zealand will succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years? 

The most fundamental aspect of reliability is the State’s ability to protect lives and livelihoods of citizens in the face of natural hazards and threats created by human activity. 62% of people in New Zealand believes that it is likely that government institutions will be ready to protect people’s lives if a serious new contagious disease spreads (Figure 3.16). This is the highest score for any of the 22 countries included in the survey, and well above the average of 49%. As shown in Figure 2.3 above, New Zealand’s residents have higher confidence in their public institutions’ ability to protect them than in any other government function. However, these positive findings should be read with some caution. Data was collected in early February 2022, shortly before the first large scale COVID infections in New Zealand. The positive results are likely influenced by New Zealand’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic (Chapter 1).

New Zealand is relatively highly exposed to natural hazards. OECD has previously estimated that New Zealand had the highest economic damages from natural disasters ( as a percentage of GDP) across 37 OECD countries from 1995-2015 (OECD, 2018[53]). A significant contributor was the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, which caused severe damage and large loss of life, and costs of roughly 20% of GDP. Around 22% of the population is exposed to significant earthquake risk (OECD/The World Bank, 2019[54]). Volcanoes can also present risks, with 22 people killed in the White Island eruption in 2019. The tragic Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019 demonstrated that New Zealand is not immune to major threats to national security.

As such, maintaining confidence in public institutions ability to protect citizens is important for safeguarding trust. Preparedness to fight infectious disease is one of the most important drivers of trust in the public service in New Zealand (Chapter 2). It is also a moderately important driver of trust in parliament and local government councillors. Comparing New Zealand’s structures to the OECD’s Recommendation on Governance of Critical Risks (OECD, 2014[55]) recommendation provides some insights on potential improvements in managing risks to public safety and security.

New Zealand has a comprehensive, all-hazards and transboundary approach to identifying and managing national risks. There is no single national strategy on management of critical risks. However a “National Risk Approach” is in place to help systematically identify and assess critical risks (New Zealand Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2021[56]). Nationally significant hazards and threats are recorded on the classified National Risk Register. A number of sector level strategies focus on specific risks. Among these, notably, the Influenza Pandemic Plan 2017 provides planning for how to implement responses, such as border controls and movement restrictions, which were later used in response to COVID-19 (New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2017[57]). An institutionalised system provides governance of critical risks. A Cabinet-level committee oversees national security. This is supported by two key Chief Executive-level boards, made up of various public institutions, which provides oversight and cross-government co-ordination of risk planning and response. In turn, it is supported by multiple thematic working groups (New Zealand Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2020[58]). The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s National Security Group provides leadership across New Zealand’s national security community and supports coordination and collaboration on nationally significant risks and issues, and events or emergencies of national significance. A dedicated National Emergency Management Agency leads and supports on emergency response and recovery, and supports risk reduction and readiness.

A potential opportunity for improving trust is to examine how to provide faster and more citizen-focused responses to disasters. New Zealand does not operate a public agency with institutionalised capacity for disaster recovery and reconstruction. Instead, government has set up bespoke systems to manage long-term support disaster recovery. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was the most notable. While CERA led the response, complex relationships among government agencies created uncertainty in responsibilities, and also attracted negative public scrutiny (Small, 2017[59]). Recovery efforts were also slowed by CERA’s need to set up management systems in parallel to delivering activities (New Zealand Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2017[60]). Similar themes are visible in the response to the Christchurch shootings. Affected citizens reported un-coordinated and inflexible responses among different government agencies involved in the response, with effects on their perceptions of government (Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019, 2022[61]). To allow faster and more co-ordinated responses to future disasters, government may wish to examine standardised emergency management structures. One action already identified is to establish agreements with government departments to provide core services (finance, HR, etc) for future recovery agencies (New Zealand Controller and Auditor-General, 2017[62]).

Trust levels may be supported by strengthening accountability and lesson-learning. In New Zealand, these functions are performed by specially appointed Royal Commissions. Commissions are appointed from outside government, giving them the advantage of independence. Findings are made public, and implementation of their recommendations is tracked. Commissions are a useful and regularly-used approach. However, no central government agency has institutional responsibility for lesson learning and accountability after crises. This creates two potential gaps. First, from a learning perspective, the extent to which lessons are systematically learned and retained in government agencies may be limited. Second, from an accountability perspective, Commissions do not typically review issues such as failure to prepare or failures to act by government agencies, and they also do not have powers such as referring complaints or setting sanctions. Complementing Commissions with stronger central government learning and accountability mechanisms may support trust.

Public institutions can also support trust by ensuring transparency to citizens on how risk management decisions and recovery activities are undertaken. In the case of risks materialising, many OECD countries provide detailed, online public reporting on how recovery funds have been spent, and what activities are being undertaken. This is an important mechanism for engagement with citizens. More pro-actively, increasing transparency may involve encouraging greater societal discussion and visibility about key local and national risks. A local aspect in risk planning should be encouraged. Local government can play an effective role in communicating about disaster risks to the public, as well as strengthening local-level preparation and resilience.

Box 3.4 below, drawn from OECD’s report “Assessing Global Progress in the Governance of Critical Risks” (OECD, 2018[53]) and online Toolkit for Risk Governance, provides examples of how OECD countries are addressing the issues highlighted above.

Perceptions about the stability of the business environment can have important long-term investment and growth implications. Predictable government regulations, and maintenance of macroeconomic stability, support households and business to make long-term investments with a greater level of surety about future operating conditions and potential future income.

48% of survey respondents in New Zealand thought it was likely that government could supply stable and predictable business conditions, while 25% thought it was unlikely (Figure 3.17). This figure was substantively above the OECD average (32%) and compares well to the highest performing small advanced economy (Netherlands, 53%). Nonetheless, as per the analysis in Chapter 2, improvements on this factor could have a significant effect on trust, especially in parliament.

A wide range of issues can affect economic stability, and a full review of business conditions and regulations in New Zealand is beyond the scope of this review. OECD’s views on economic policy in New Zealand are set out in the most recent OECD Economic Survey (OECD, 2021[66]). However, from a trust perspective, housing prices are potentially affecting New Zealanders perceptions of reliability (Section 2.8). Between 2005 and 2019, New Zealand saw one of the sharpest increases in real housing prices in OECD countries (Figure 3.18). House price increases accelerated in 2020 and 2021, as relaxed monetary policy was used to stimulate the economy as part of the COVID response. Measures included boosting liquidity in the banking sector, temporary removal of loan-to-value-ratio (LVR) restrictions on mortgages and low interest rates. Prices reached a peak in late 2021, having risen at around 25% year-on-year (OECD, 2022[30]). However, in 2022, house prices appear to have fallen sharply, as COVID measures have been removed and interest rates raised to combat rising inflation.

The issues in the housing market have created financial pressures on renters and first-time buyers. These are disproportionately young people and those on lower incomes, both of whom have lower trust than other groups (See Figure 2.17). In 2019, housing in New Zealand was already among the least affordable in any OECD country. New Zealand had one of the highest ratios of house prices to income (OECD, 2021[67]). Among the lowest income quintile, 56% of households renting accommodation, and 43% of those with a mortgage, were spending more than 40% of their disposable income on housing costs (Figure 3.19). This was the highest proportion of any OECD country for which data is available. As COVID responses were put in place, first-time buyers have increasingly taken on large mortgages in relation to their income levels (Figure 3.20). Now that higher interest rates have been put in place, there is an increased risk of home losses among this group. Recommendations on housing policy are outside the scope of this report, but action to increase housing affordability and reduce variability in prices could contribute to improving public perceptions of government reliability.

Cross-nationally, people’s confidence that their country will reduce greenhouse gas emissions has a significant and positive relationship with trust in national government (Figure 3.21). In other words, effective policies to fight climate change may improve trust in government. This can support a positive feedback loop, as high trust can also improve the effectiveness of environmental policy. Evidence from many OECD countries shows that trust in government is a significant factor in citizens’ willingness to support climate policies (Hammar and Jagers, 2006[70]) (Harring and Jagers, 2013[71]) (Rhodes, Axsen and Jaccard, 2017[72]). While many people believe that mitigating climate change will make future people's lives better, they may still not support these policies if they have little confidence that policies will be effective, or implemented for long enough, to mitigate climate change (Fairbrother et al., 2021[73]).

54% of New Zealanders are not confident that the country will reduce emissions (Figure 3.22). Only 35% are confident. This figure is almost identical to the average across OECD countries (OECD, 2022[74]). New Zealand has a relatively high level of trust in government, and this is usually associated with higher confidence in the ability of the government to reduce emissions. As such, this data raises questions as to why New Zealanders’ are more sceptical of government on climate change than on other issues.

New Zealand has a robust set of targets, institutions and policy tools on climate change and environmental protection. From a trust perspective, these provide assurance that existing policies are credible and effective (OECD, 2022[30]). New Zealand’s primary tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which sets a minimum price for emissions. Just over half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are covered by the ETS (New Zealand Ministry for the Environment, n.d.[75]). In 2019, the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act set a new domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, reducing net emissions of all greenhouse gases (except biogenic methane) to zero by 2050 (New Zealand Ministry for the Environment, 2021[76]). It also established the Climate Change Commission to provide independent, evidence-based advice to government on climate issues. The Commission monitors and review progress towards the country’s goals for reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate. The legislation requires it to set emissions budgets within set timeframes. The independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has broad powers to investigate environmental concerns. The Commissioner provides independent reports and advice on environmental issues, and works to review the agencies and processes set up by the Government to manage the country's resources. They also investigate the effectiveness of environmental planning and management by public authorities and advise them on remedial action.

Nonetheless, New Zealand is not on track to meet its objectives for climate change mitigation. Strengthening climate change mitigation policy could therefore improve trust on average (noting that those working in carbon intensive industries may suffer negative effects). OECD’s most recent economic survey assessed that New Zealand is not on track to meet either its 2030 abatement commitment or its 2050 net zero carbon emissions target. It is estimated that inflation-adjusted carbon prices under the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will need to rise from NZD 68 per tonne of CO2-e in early December 2021 to NZD 140 by 2030 and NZD 250 by 2050 for New Zealand to meet its abatement objectives from domestic sources. New measures will also be needed to complement carbon pricing, and address emissions sources not corrected by carbon pricing alone (OECD, 2022[30]). Moreover, New Zealand’s domestic targets are not sufficient to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. New Zealand will need to invest in significant amounts of emission abatements elsewhere to meet its NDC (New Zealand Climate Change Commission, 2022[77]). The government has published an Emissions Reduction Plan outlining policies and actions to help bridge the gap between the current emissions trajectory and the one required to meet the 2050 targets. Among others, actions include: increasing access to electric vehicles and public transport; supporting businesses to improve energy efficiency; accelerating the delivery of agricultural emissions reduction tools; and establishing native forests at scale to develop long-term carbon sinks and improve biodiversity (New Zealand Government, 2022[78]).

Improving trust may also require more effective climate change adaptation measures, with a focus on increasing capacities in local government. Many of New Zealand’s communities are exposed to the effects of climate change. A high-profile case at the time of writing is Nelson, a low-lying coastal city of 50,000 residents, located at a river mouth on the South Island. Nelson is at increasing risk of coastal and river flooding as a result of climate change. In July 2022, the Nelson City Council undertook a public consultation on priorities in designing its adaptation responses. The consultation was accompanied by a set of high-definition projections of areas of the city potentially at risk from once-a-century flooding events over the next 100 years (Nelson City Council, 2022[79]). Four days after the close of the consultation, in August 2022, a once-a-century flooding event occurred (New Zealand Herald, 2022[80]). Nelson received roughly 2 months of rainfall over 3 days, resulting in more than 400 homes being evacuated, 350 landslides and a two week state of emergency (Deutsche Welle, 2022[81]). Scientific commentators noted that climate change was “more than likely playing a role” in precipitating the floods (Gabel, 2022[82]).

The risk of episodes of this sort is likely to increase as climate change intensifies. This episode highlights, first, that the effectiveness of climate change adaptation has the potential to be an important driver of trust levels in the short-to-medium term in New Zealand. It also highlights the critical importance of local government capacity in planning and implementing adaptation activities. Local government, specifically regional councils, are responsible for most environmental management in New Zealand. As noted above, local government in New Zealand has a truncated range of responsibilities, and in many cases suffers from lack of access to financing and expertise. It is important that reviews of local government functions consider their ability to deliver effective local adaptation activity.

To improve trust, it is important that New Zealand maintains a clear long-term view of risks and opportunities. New Zealand has an unusually short electoral cycle, with parliamentary elections every three years. This means the window within which public officials must develop, implement and evaluate new policies is often shorter than in other OECD members. This creates a risk of short-term thinking and may make it harder to identify and tackle long-term problems. The Public Service Act 2020 combats any such risks by making it a legal requirement that each government department must present a Long Terms Insight Briefing every three years. This must contain “information about medium and long-term trends, risks and opportunities that affect or may affect New Zealand… and policy options for responding to these matters” (New Zealand Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2021[83]).

New Zealand’s public institutions may be able to improve trust by continuing to institutionalise long-term policy foresight. The need to institute long-range thinking faces many governments, and is a core aspect of reliability. New Zealand’s Long Term Insights Briefings are a welcome tool and they could benefit in building existing institutional memory and technical capacity. As a new tool, it is important to ensure these are incorporated into policy-making, and improved over time. OECD members have adopted a range of approaches to institutionalise long-term thinking, including cross-agency foresight work (|Finland) and institutionalised centres of excellence (Canada). Box 3.2 presents these. New Zealand may benefit from reviewing mechanisms elsewhere in the OECD.

This section summarizes key results and presents potential policy avenues to improve reliability and strengthen public trust.

  • 62% of people survey respondents in New Zealand believe that it is likely that government institutions will be ready to protect people’s lives if a serious new contagious disease spreads. New Zealand is however highly exposed in comparative terms to natural hazards. It is key to Provide faster and more citizen-focused responses to disasters. Strengthen post-event accountability and lesson-learning functions in central government. Ensure transparency to citizens on how risk management decisions and recovery activities are undertaken.

  • Protecting Wellbeing and Economic Stability. Failures to address widely recognized are a risk to levels of trust. – Take action to increase housing affordability and reduce variability in prices. Identify factors that contributed in managing previous crisis (e.g. COVID) in terms of effectively harnessing a relatively small pool of public health expertise and reallocating resources to address key needs, this would help identifying transferable lessons for other pressing issues.

  • New Zealand has a well-defined institutional framework for climate change policy. Yet only 35% of the population is confident that New Zealand will succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Policy could work towards bridging the gaps in emissions targets. Institutional mechanisms for adaptation could be further prioritised, including ensuring there is appropriate capability for adaptation.

  • Preparedness to cope with future crises is a key driver of trust in the public service. Strengthen New Zealand’s newly developed institutional mechanisms for long-term policy foresight by learning from foresight exercises carried out elsewhere in the OECD. It is important to advance conversations on how the briefs may influence policies.


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