He whakawhanaketanga ā-iwi mō ngā iwi katoa o Aotearoa Social development for all New Zealanders

We want to achieve a better future for New Zealanders. This involves working with and through others to take a holistic approach to meeting people’s needs, and intervening early to get the best solutions.

We help New Zealanders by fulfilling a broad range of responsibilities and functions, including:

  • providing employment, income support and superannuation services, including Student Loans and Allowances
  • designing and delivering community services in conjunction with others
  • allocating funding to community service providers
  • providing public housing assistance and services
  • assessing and resolving claims of historical abuse and neglect
  • providing advice on regional public service governance
  • being the primary provider of social policy advice to the 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.

Our policy advice function includes:

  • providing advice on a wide range of social policy issues, including those affecting seniors, disabled people, children and youth
  • protecting the integrity of the welfare system
  • supporting the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions
  • responding to adverse and crisis events
  • co-ordinating the whole-of-government approach to strengthening social cohesion.

Providing services to a wide range of clients

We serve a wide range of clients. These include working-age people, seniors, students, and people who need housing support.

As well as people living in New Zealand, our clients include a small number of New Zealanders who live overseas and receive financial assistance.

Our clients

  • Over 350,000 working-age people received a main or supplementary benefit
  • More than 837,000 Seniors were paid New Zealand Superannuation
  • We provided more than 200,000 students with support to access allowances and loans
  • We helped over 19,000 people into emergency housing and administered the Public Housing Register

Delivering during COVID-19

As an essential service we continued to operate through the COVID-19 lockdowns. Staff worked remotely (often at home), and we scaled up to deliver the Government’s response to COVID-19 through:

  • designing and implementing financial support to individuals, employers and self-employed people, including:
    • Wage Subsidy payments
    • COVID-19 Income Relief Assistance
    • COVID-19 Apprentice Support
    • the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme
    • the COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment
  • providing policy advice on pandemic response measures
  • ensuring social services providers could continue to operate, supporting national food distribution networks and rolling out time-limited funds to ensure local communities could support those most in need
  • taking a major role in the all-of-government cross-agency emergency management response.


  1. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (www.occ.org.nz), the New Zealand Artificial Limb Service (www.nzals.co.nz) and the Social Workers Registration Board (www.swrb.govt.nz).