Ko te Manatū Whakahiato Ora hei wāhanga o te rāngai ā-iwi MSD as part of the social sector

We are a social sector agency. The social sector is made up of government agencies (national, regional and local) and organisations that work with individuals and whānau in particular areas of welfare, housing, health, education, child wellbeing, justice and disability support services. This includes government agencies who fund organisations that deliver services within communities.

Supporting a more joined-up Public Service in the regions

Our Regional Development team works closely with the eleven Regional Public Service Leads (the Leads), who were appointed in September 2019 to improve the co-ordination of public services across New Zealand, on the Joined-up Government in the Regions work programme by providing co-ordination, analytical and advisory support.

Seven of the Leads are MSD Regional Commissioners: Eru Lyndon (Northland), Te Rehia Papesch (Waikato), Karen Bartlett (Acting, East Coast), Gloria Campbell (Taranaki, King Country and Whanganui), Katie Brosnahan (Central) (Graham Allpress acting from 1 July 2021), Craig Churchill (Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast), and Jason Tibble (Southland).

During 2020/21 the Leads had the mandate to convene officials across the social and skills sectors. Among other things, they:

  • supported regional leaders, including iwi/Māori, to manage COVID-19 resurgence as well as to recover and revitalise
  • continued to develop regional public service priorities that reflect what is important to iwi/Māori, local government and communities, which align with national-level priorities
  • supported regional alignment of key government priorities, such as child wellbeing
  • convened officials in the region to share information, connect and act on key issues effecting their communities
  • were members of the Regional Skills Leadership Groups, and other key regional-level forums.

A particular focus has been a cross-agency process for stakeholder engagement to develop awareness of the work programme across social, economic, skills and workforce, and environmental sectors.

We have continued to provide advice on regional public service governance, particularly in support of place-based initiatives that build on existing relationships and each community’s aspirations and needs .

Strengthening social cohesion

We are the lead agency for co-ordinating the whole-of-government approach to strengthening social cohesion, which is part of the Government’s response to the recommendations from the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain in March 2019.

The scope of the social cohesion work goes beyond ethnicity and faith to include a broad definition of diversity including ages, cultures, beliefs, disabilities, family composition, where people live, gender identities, and sexual orientation. It will build on initiatives already under way across agencies, develop new initiatives, and lead work to develop a strategic framework for social cohesion, including a monitoring and evaluation regime. In May 2021 we sought Cabinet agreement to:

  • engage with communities to create a strategic framework based on a shared understanding of social cohesion that is focused on what unites us as people in Aotearoa New Zealand, while valuing diversity and taking tangible steps to become an inclusive society
  • build on the Government’s existing work programme through tangible actions in the short, medium and long term to improve social cohesion
  • identify how to support and enable communities, the business sector, the cultural sector, and central and local government to undertake actions to improve social cohesion.

Work on social cohesion will be consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and incorporating te ao Māori approaches will be a priority.

Delivering in collaboration with other agencies

We can’t achieve a better future for New Zealanders on our own, so we partner with other organisations (both government and non-government) to maximise our reach and impact.

We lead and co-ordinate social policy development for the Government, including its commitment to overhauling the welfare system, but we work with others to achieve outcomes. This means partnering across the social, justice and economic sectors, and with iwi and non-government agencies (both private sector and not-for-profit), to:

  • contribute to cross-sectoral strategies
  • lead strategies for particular projects or communities
  • develop and provide policy advice to Ministers on issues that affect the whole social sector
  • provide research and evaluation to back up our social policy advice
  • deliver services to the public.


  1. In July 2021 Cabinet agreed to further strengthen public service leadership in the regions by expanding the scope of the Leads to cover the environment and economic sectors, and to strengthen their mandate to help resolve issues within regions and where beneficial raise issues or opportunities directly to Chief Executives. In line with this Cabinet decision, on 25 August 2021, the Public Service Commissioner designated Debbie Power as System Leader for regional alignment and re-designated Leads as Regional Public Service Commissioners.