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Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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New Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages appointed

23 February 2023

Russell Burnard has been appointed as the new Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

The appointment follows the resignation of current Registrar-General Jeff Montgomery, who is taking up a new role as the Civil Registration Adviser at the Pacific Community (SPC), supporting 22 countries and territories across the Pacific region.

The Civil Registration System is one of the oldest regulatory systems of government in New Zealand, with records dating as far back as 1840. It registers and maintains Aotearoa New Zealand's birth, death, marriage, civil union and name change information, and issues certificates and printouts.

The Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages is an independent statutory role under the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995. The Registrar-General is responsible for the Civil Registration System as a whole.

Jeff Montgomery was Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for 10 years. During that time, he oversaw the development of the SmartStart service, one of the world’s few fully online, integrated services for new parents. Last month, 5,306 births were registered online through SmartStart, representing more than 99% of births in New Zealand for that period.

Jeff’s passion for civil registration and vital statistics led him to expand his work beyond New Zealand’s borders, chairing the Pacific Civil Registrars Network and working to support nations like Papua New Guinea and Bangladesh to improve their civil registration.

The new Registrar-General, Russell Burnard, has been working in the civil registration space for the last 4 years as General Manager Operations at Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs. In this role, he already leads teams who are responsible for some of the core functions of the Registrar-General, including registering deaths and marriages and maintaining key IT systems that store civil registry information. He was also the first Government Chief Privacy Officer from 2015 to 2018.

“I am looking forward to meeting with our stakeholders and leading the great mahi our department is doing to improve New Zealand’s civil registration system and ensure Kiwis can easily access the services and information they need”, says Russell Burnard.

The new Registrar-General’s immediate priorities will be continuing the work to introduce the new civil registration system over the next 18 months and working to improve how identity data can be used by customers to more easily access services from government and private sector agencies.

Russell Burnard will step into the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages role on 27 February 2023.


Media contact:

Media Desk - Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs
Mobile: +64 27 535 8639