The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

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Chief Executive’s Overview

The Department of Internal Affairs in 2004/05 continued to deliver a high standard of service and support to Ministers, Parliament, communities, customers and stakeholders, and to operate its enforcement activities effectively and fairly.

At the same time, the Department looked to the future, building a more cohesive organisation so that we can achieve our vision of being “a recognised leader in public service – known for innovation, essential to New Zealand, and trusted to deliver”.

We have a strong focus on managing for outcomes, contributing to:
  • strong, sustainable communities/hapü/iwi
  • safer communities
  • New Zealand and international communities trusting the integrity of New Zealand’s records of identity
  • the Executive Government being well supported.

Christopher Blake
Chief Executive

PROVIDING LEADERSHIP
In managing for outcomes, the Department has identified a number of areas where the Government can look to the Department for leadership within the public service and where we make a significant contribution to outcomes for the community. I would like to highlight progress in these areas.

Managing the Central Government/Local Government Interface
The Department has a central role in facilitating effective relationships between central government, local government and communities.

The new local government legislative regimes, particularly the Local Government Act 2002, have brought about changes in the range of activities that local authorities are likely to undertake and the way they go about their business. The Act also places a premium on coordination and collaboration between local authorities and other agencies. Support is required to assist building relationships, particularly at the interface between central and local government, to ensure that agencies are able to work effectively together on issues affecting local and national communities.

During 2004/05 the Department actively promoted central government involvement with the community outcome process. It also continued to support broadly focused collaborative initiatives at the local level.

Our effectiveness in connecting central government with the local government and community sectors is based on our experience in the provision of advice to, and on behalf of, the Minister of Local Government as well as our experience in community development and funding.

Both central and local government have concerns about the ability of local authorities to provide needed infrastructure and meet other community and Government expectations. The Department leads a central/local government working group investigating funding issues. This work resulted in a report to the Central/Local Government Forum in July 2005 on the nature and size of the problem. We expect to report back on options in December 2005.

Supporting Ethnic Diversity
The Department of Internal Affairs takes a leadership role across government in ethnic affairs. It is anticipated that ethnic1 people will comprise 18% of the New Zealand population by 2021, and already one in eight Auckland families are of Asian ethnicity. The Office of Ethnic Affairs was established within the Department in recognition of this changing demographic and its importance to New Zealand. The Office is continuing to develop “Strength in Diversity” as its strategic direction, to help recognise and respond to the issues and opportunities arising from New Zealand’s increasing ethnic diversity.
1In government usage, “ethnic” covers all those whose ethnicity is not Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Mäori or Pacific.

The Office has been active in officials’ groups working on the Government’s National Settlement Strategy and the development of regional strategies for Auckland and Wellington. The aim is to enhance social inclusion so that best use is made of the diverse talents of migrants and refugees. The Office also aims to address settlement outcomes by changing broader attitudes to ethnic communities in New Zealand. One major initiative is developing intercultural skills within the public sector to better deal with diverse staff and to improve policy analysis through enhanced understanding. During 2004/05 we worked with various government agencies to improve their responsiveness to ethnic diversity in policy and service delivery.

Reviewing the Nature and Value of New Zealand Citizenship
The Department administers citizenship processes for New Zealand, and is taking the lead in developing understanding of the nature and value of New Zealand citizenship.

During 2004/05 the Department completed initial research into New Zealand citizenship and its regional and international context. It is apparent that this links into other important considerations of identity, both cultural and national, as well as the constitutional aspects of what being a New Zealander means. This will be an ongoing area of work over the next 12 months.

Identity Management
The Department provides leadership in identity management across the public service.

The rising rate and the increasing impact of identity fraud cause problems for government agencies, ranging from international security breaches to financial fraud through to loss of trust when a genuine customer’s identity is stolen by a fraudster. At the same time, identity verification is more challenging than ever as government agencies seek to offer more services via the Internet.

During 2004/05 the Department led inter-agency work to develop a draft Evidence of Identity (EOI) framework to promote a consistent and robust approach across government to verifying the identity of applicants for services and benefits. Further work has developed the framework into a draft EOI standard.

Civil Defence and Emergency Management
The floods in New Zealand in 2004, the Boxing Day tsunami and Hurricane Katrina have all highlighted the importance of civil defence and emergency management (CDEM). Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, the Department has a leadership role in developing structures and processes for supporting individuals and communities to manage the impacts of major and overwhelming disasters. Reviews of CDEM operations, and of the February 2004 flood event, identified capability and capacity issues for the management of CDEM events. In Budget 2005, the Government agreed to invest $6.1 million over four years for public education and $12.9 million over five years for the Ministry’s capacity and capability development. A development programme for the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is under way.

The first proposed National CDEM Plan, developed under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, was prepared in 2004/05, and presented to the House of Representatives and publicly notified in August 2005. The Plan sets out how government will manage a national emergency and support CDEM groups in managing local events.

THE YEAR AHEAD
The Department enters 2005/06 with a sense of achievement and direction. It has been a busy year with high levels of demand for our services, and there are fresh challenges ahead as we implement new legislation, take on new responsibilities and deliver the benefits expected from the investment being made in the Department. I think we are well placed to deliver on the priorities in our Statement of Intent for 2005/06 and respond to changes in our environment and the needs of government.

The Department is confident that it will successfully manage the new responsibilities we have been given by the Government. The most substantial of these are the Community Partnership Fund of the Digital Strategy, the Significant Community-Based Project Fund and administration of the Charities Commission. Implementing these new responsibilities is a current priority for the Department.

By implementing recommendations from a series of organisational reviews, we have succeeded in moving the Department towards a more integrated single organisation using common systems and processes to capture the benefits of scale and deliver better results. The Government has also invested significant new funds to enhance the Department’s capacity and capability. The investment will improve personnel capacity and capability and upgrade the Department’s information technology. A key focus for capability improvement in the year ahead will be Vote Emergency Management.

The Department ultimately depends for success on the dedication of skilled staff. I would like to thank our people for continuing to provide high-quality work during a period of significant organisational change. We are gradually improving our systems and processes, and existing staff have been joined by new colleagues attracted by the Department’s commitment to its vision and the role it intends to play in future.



Christopher Blake
Chief Executive

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