The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Resource material › Corporate Publications › 2004 Statement of Intent

Chief Executive's Overview

The Department’s thinking has advanced as it works towards outcomes aligned to its purpose of
serving and connecting citizens, communities and government to build a strong safe nation and the Government’s key goals.

The Department works towards four outcomes:

  • Strong, sustainable communities/hapü/iwi
  • Safer communities
  • New Zealand and international communities trust the integrity of New Zealand’s records of identity
  • Executive Government is well supported

In working toward these outcomes the Department has set key medium term priorities:

Medium Term Priority 1: Implementation of Strategies to Improve Strategic Policy Capability and Operational Leadership

At the time of the last Statement of Intent, a review of options for the future delivery of policy advice by the Department was being finalised. The review found that the Department could build capability and reputation for strategic policy and operational leadership in two areas of strategic focus.

The first area is the relationship between central government, communities, local government, and iwi/hapū. These relationships are key to the effective implementation of the Local Government Act 2002, and underpin many other Government initiatives in areas such as community and regional development and infrastructure development.

In the short term the Department is focusing on assisting local government to implement the Act and building the key relationships needed to do this. The Department will continue to develop wider capability to strengthen its position as a strategic leader at the central/local government interface.

The second area of strategic focus for the Department concerns the cluster of activities around gambling, racing, censorship, fire and identity regulation. These responsibilities have considerable cross-over in matters that are important to Government, including community safety, security, e-government and international networks and agreements.

The Department is acting now to build policy capability to be in a position to quickly and effectively respond to future demands. Environmental analysis indicates this area is likely to become of greater strategic importance in the medium-term.

The Department’s strengthened strategies span culture, structure, process and skills. The strategies for culture, processes and skills are outlined in the capability section of this Statement of Intent. To strengthen its structure the Department set up two new branches integrating policy and operations. Each is headed by a Deputy Secretary. One branch is charged with the regulatory and compliance functions that the Department delivers and the other with the local government and community issues.

The Deputy Secretaries, Local Government and Community, and Regulation and Compliance, took up their roles in March 2004 and have quickly set about establishing the new branches and developing plans to deliver on the strategic opportunities.

The following illustrates the organisational structure as at March 2004 following the establishment of the two new branches.

Organisational structure of the Department of Internal Affairs as at March 2004

A review of the corporate support functions across the Department is nearing completion. This is to ensure that we deliver the right support services, organised in the most effective way, to support the delivery of outputs and achievement of outcomes. This review is due to finish in June with implementation in the early part of the 2004/05 year.

Medium Term Priority 2: Realising the Benefits from New Legislation

In addition to the Local Government Act 2002, the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (CDEM Act) and the Gambling Act 2003 change the Department’s work in the medium term.

The floods of February 2004 that devastated the lower North Island provide a stark reminder that as a nation we need to understand and minimise the risks of such events and be in a position to effectively respond if they do occur. The CDEM Act seeks to improve New Zealand’s resilience to emergencies through promoting a comprehensive, all hazards approach to managing risk. A key requirement of the Act was the completion of a national civil defence emergency management (CDEM) strategy. The strategy, approved by Government in December 2003, is the Crown’s vision for civil defence emergency management in New Zealand and the first step to a comprehensive, integrated approach to CDEM.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is working with the CDEM sector to achieve the Government’s CDEM goals. The Ministry will continue to develop frameworks and provide advice to give effect to improved CDEM behaviour and will monitor and evaluate the CDEM environment in order to advise Government of any gaps and weaknesses in New Zealand’s resilience.

The passing of the Gambling Act 2003 provides for a solid, coherent regulatory framework within which both the Department and the sector can operate. Implementation of this Act is a priority for the Department. Our goal over the next 3 to 5 years is to be recognised as a strong and effective regulator so that the gambling sector will achieve a significant level of voluntary compliance as it understands the rules and recognises the risks of not complying.

Anticipated amendments to the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 will affect the Department’s censorship compliance activities. These changes along with additional resources will enhance the ability to detect and deter offenders, particularly those involved in the trading or collecting of images of child sexual abuse.

Medium Term Priority 3: Continuing to Enhance the Services We Provide

Identity Services will continue to improve its systems to address integrity requirements, meet the goals of the E-Government Strategy and provide sustainable services based on modern technology.

Initiatives to extend identity related services include extending birth, death and marriage services to enable notification of BDM registration information online and public Internet access to BDM index information. The passport production system is also under redevelopment. The first stage in this redevelopment is incorporation of a microchip for holding biometric information into the passport, in line with international standards. Proposed new legislation responds to the changed international environment and the opportunities provided by technology.

The Department actively supports the E-Government Strategy, and is collaborating with other agencies to integrate government service delivery. We are working closely with the E-Government Unit on developing design solutions for all-of-government identity authentication. Identity Services is also establishing access for authorised agencies to verify certain identity information held in our registers to enhance delivery of their services.

Two key projects are planned to enhance our role in supporting Ministers. The information management and technology capability within the Executive Government Support group will be upgraded. In addition a knowledge management strategy will be developed and implemented to ensure the knowledge and understanding of this specialist business is captured and shared.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs will support the New Zealand Chinese community as poll tax descendants establish a trust to manage the $5 million fund, part of the reconciliation package announced this year. This reconciliation, facilitated by the Office, established New Zealand’s leading international role in the recognition of historical discrimination against Chinese.

2004/05 will see the continuing development of the telephone interpreting service, Language Line, which allows virtually immediate access by agencies to interpreters able to assist with client communication. It is planned to add new languages and to increase the capacity of the service, and make it available to more agencies.

In the first part of 2004/05, the country’s first STV election will be held. The Department has supported local authorities and health boards through the provision of certified calculators to count STV votes. It will also cooperate with other agencies as it mounts a major information campaign about this new element in our democracy.

A new structure and a renewed strategic focus will change and improve the performance of the Department. The Department ultimately depends for success on the dedication of skilled staff. Staff are responding throughout the Department to the new challenges which face us and working to support the new structure. The development of clearer strategic focus enhances jobs and allows staff to more clearly see the benefits of their work. The Department is a good place to work, and will become more so as we achieve our goals of recognition as a leader in public service, trusted to deliver, and essential to New Zealand.