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New Zealand Government
New Zealand Government

Unlike the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and many other countries, New Zealand does not have state or provincial governments. So New Zealand system of government is more compact and straightforward. There are just two tiers of government in New Zealand - Central government and Local government.

• Central government makes decisions affecting New Zealand as a whole.

• Local government looks after the interests and needs of specific communities through regional, city or district councils.

Who does what


Central government:

• runs housing, welfare, education, health, justice, immigration, the police, energy, the national road and rail systems, defence, foreign policy and public finances;

• regulates employment, import and export, and workplace safety;

• levies personal income tax, business taxes, and GST (the goods and services tax that is added to almost all goods and services in New Zealand).

Local government bodies:

• provide local services like water, rubbish collection and disposal, sewage treatment, parks, reserves, street lighting, roads, local public transport and libraries;

• process building and environmental consents and administer other regulatory tasks;

• levy taxes on property, which are called ‘rates’.

Government's main sources of revenue


The Government's main sources of revenue come from tax, levies, fees, investment income and from the sales of goods and services.


The three largest areas of total Crown expenditure for the 2017/18 financial year were:

• Social security and welfare: $26.0 billion

• Health: $17.2 billion

• Education: $13.6 billion

These figures are taken from the Analysis of Expenses by Functional Classification Total Crown in the Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand for the Year Ended 30 June 2018. https://treasury.govt.nz/publications/year-end/financial-statements-2018

Ministry of Social Development


The Ministry of Social Development is a core public service department. The Ministry is all about helping to build successful individuals, and in turn building strong, healthy families and communities.

The Ministry of Social Development works closely with other government agencies, non-government organizations, advisory and industry groups, and communities and iwi. Their aim is to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of New Zealanders.


• providing employment, income support and superannuation services

• allocating funding to community service providers

• providing student allowances and loans

• providing public housing assistance and services

• being the primary provider of social policy and advice to Government

• monitoring three Crown entities and providing advice to the responsible Minister

• ensuring the legislation we administer is effective and fit-for-purpose

• working with other agencies and the wider social sector to support Government priorities and improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders


Social security


New Zealand Police delivers a wide range of policing services 24/7, 365 days a year. Everything Police does is about ensuring people will ‘be safe and feel safe’. New Zealand Police’s mission is to be the safest country and there are three goals to support the mission:

prevent crime and victimization

Serious crime victimisations have reduced by 9,643 victimisations as at 30 June 2018. The reduction is in part due to a number preventative initiatives we have implemented, including our increased focus on burglary attendance and clearance rate.

target and catch offenders

Police aim to target and catch offenders, hold them to account, support those who want to make a positive change, and help them access support services they may need to stop offending.

deliver a more responsive police service

Police has been engaged in a wide range of operations and exercises both within New Zealand and off-shore in support of other government agencies such as Civil Defence and MFAT. Police is a key agency in the Government’s emergency response framework and participated in the Ministerial Review: Better Responses to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies in New Zealand.


Social Welfare

Public housing


Public housing is provided by the government through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). It is available for people and families on low incomes who are most in need of housing, for as long as they need it. They may also need to show that they have been looking for a place to live but have not been able to find one that meets their needs. Social housing | MSD

Retirement saving help


The New Zealand Superannuation scheme - NZ Super - supports a basic standard of living in retirement. But to ensure the sort of lifestyle they want in their older years, many Kiwis are also doing their own retirement saving. To encourage that, the government offers workers in New Zealand ‘Kiwisaver’. Basically, you pay in a certain amount from your wages or salary, which is matched by your employer and topped up with an annual bonus from the government. The money is invested for you by approved ‘KiwiSaver providers’ until you are eligible for NZ Super at age 65. Kiwisaver in a nutshell | Kiwisaver

NZ Super and help for the elderly


NZ Super is available for citizens and residents aged 65 and over. It is not means tested and is paid regardless of any other private income you may receive (although ACC benefits for injury from accidents may affect your allowance). You pay tax on NZ Super payments. If you qualify for NZ Super, you will also receive a SuperGold Card. It gives you discounts and offers from a range of businesses, government concessions (such as free off-peak public transport), and discounted services from your local council. People over 65 may also qualify for help with housing and living costs and help with retirement home or assisted living costs. 65 years or older | Work and Income

Parental leave


Many new parents are entitled to up to 22 continuous weeks’ paid parental leave, if they meet the six or 12 month eligibility criteria. Partners may get either one or two weeks' unpaid leave, depending on how long they have been employed. Parental leave | MBIE

Accommodation supplement


Depending on how much you earn and other criteria, you may be eligible for Accommodation Supplement payments to help with rent, board, mortgage and other essential housing costs. Accommodation Supplement | Work and Income

Working for Families benefits


Working for Families is a package that can include tax credits, subsidies for pre-school and out-of-school child care, and help with housing costs. Many families with children are eligible for it. Working for families | Work and Income, Inland Revenue



Quality infrastructure assets and services are vital to New Zealand’s economic and social well-being. over the coming years New Zealand will need a level of infrastructure investment that is unprecedented. An estimated $129 billion is expected to be spent on capital projects between 2019 and 2029. The latest Infometrics Infrastructure Pipeline Profile shows that average infrastructure investment across the country is expected to be 28% higher over the next 10 years compared to the 2010-2018 period. A total of $129 billion in capital projects are estimated to be built over the 2019-2029 period.

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Just over half of the $129b infrastructure forecast spending is allocated to roading and other land transport, reiterating the importance of transport linkages across the country. Land transport infrastructure spending is expected to be worth $71.6b over the next ten years (55% of the total), with the next two largest asset types being $17.4b for local council spending excluding roading (14%) and $16.3b for electricity infrastructure (13%). Budget 2018 invests in the Auckland City Rail Link, provides funding to Crown Infrastructure Partners to invest in critical water and roading infrastructure to increase housing supply, and invests in KiwiRail to support a modern rail network. https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2018/at-a-glance/promoting-economic-development-supporting-regions.htm

Healthcare services


Most health and disability services in New Zealand are publicly funded for eligible people. Government funding of health and disability services means that eligible people may receive free inpatient and outpatient public hospital services, subsidies on prescription items and a range of support services for people with disabilities in the community. New Zealand’s public health system is subsidised by the government, but there may be part-charges for services when private providers are involved. You qualify for subsidised care if you either:

• are a citizen or resident

• hold a work visa that is valid for two years or more from the date you arrive

• hold a work visa and have legally resided in NZ for the last two years.

If you meet these criteria, then your children aged 17 years or under will also be eligible for publicly funded healthcare.

If you do not qualify, you will need to pay for your healthcare as and when you need it. However, most costs of injuries from accidents are covered by our accident compensation scheme (ACC).

Injuries from accidents


Most of the costs of injuries from accidents are covered by New Zealand’s unique personal accident compensation scheme, which is run by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). ACC provides no-fault insurance cover to everyone in New Zealand for injuries resulting from accidents. ACC covers everything from car crashes to injuries at work, slips, trips and falls at home, or breaking your arm skiing - even if the person who is injured caused the accident. Am I covered? | ACC

Dental care costs


Dental care is free for eligible children up to 18 years of age. This free care is not available through every practice, so check with your dentist, contact Talk Teeth on 0800 825 583, or visit the website. Adults have to pay privately for most dental services. There are no fixed or recommended fees. The Ministry of Health recommends that you always ask about the fees for the treatment you need and be prepared to shop around. Publicly funded dental care | Ministry of Health

Medicine costs


The cost of many medicines and medical devices is covered through the public health system. What is and is not covered is decided by the government’s Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC). The drugs they approve are available on prescription for a NZ$5 charge, although if they are for children under 13 they are free. Prescription charges | Ministry of Health

Community Services card


People on low incomes, who are citizens or permanent residents, may be eligible for a Community Services Card. This provides higher government subsidies on the cost of visits to a doctor (GP) and buying prescription items. The Community Services card can also be used to access other health services from public hospitals, including travel and accommodation assistance. Community Services Card | Work and Income

Child health


From birth to five years, all children in New Zealand qualify for a free health service called Well Child/Tamariki Ora. It gives children a range of health checks and provides support and advice for new parents. Well Child / Tamiriki Ora service | Ministry of Health

Pregnancy services


Most maternity care is free for women who meet the eligibility criteria.


Elder care


New Zealand offers a wide range of services to help the elderly in New Zealand. Services include home care, financial support, social support, rest homes and retirement villages. Support for older people | Senior Line



New Zealand’s education system is world-class, modern and responsive. It combines proven, traditional principles with innovation, creativity and fresh thinking to produce leaders and citizens equipped for the 21st century. New Zealand public spending on education remains among the highest in the OECD*(2017 Report). The Government spent $13.6 billion on education in 2018. a number forecast to increase to $14.4b by 2021.Spending on the sector was about 5 per cent of the national gross domestic product in 2018.



Most New Zealand children attend state schools (also known as ‘public schools’). State schools are funded by the government and the education is free for domestic students up to 19 years of age. However, parents usually need to pay for things like school uniforms, stationery, exam fees, and some course-related costs. Your child can attend school as a domestic student if they are a New Zealand resident, a permanent resident or a citizen (includes Tokelauans, Cook Islanders and Niueans), or if they hold a student visa based on your temporary work visa.