As the lead agency for the social sector, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is responsible on behalf of the Government for leading social development to achieve better futures for all New Zealanders.

We help the Government set priorities across the sector, co-ordinate the actions of other social sector agencies, set and manage policy and track changes in the social wellbeing of New Zealanders.

It is likely that every New Zealander will come into contact with MSD at some point in their life.

We provide policy advice, and deliver social services and assistance to young people, working-age people, older people, families, whānau and communities. We work directly with New Zealanders of all ages to improve their social wellbeing.

Our work, together with that of our social sector partners, is essential to achieving a sustainable and prosperous future in which all New Zealanders are able to take responsibility for themselves, be successful in their lives and participate in their communities.

We administer a series of statutes that ensure a fair welfare system for all New Zealanders . The most significant of these is the Social Security Act 2018. We are also required to operate under a range of public sector legislation such as the Public Finance Act 1989, the Public Service Act 2020, the Official Information Act 1982, the Privacy Act 2020, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Crown Entities Act 2004.

Note: A brief history of MSD and its predecessor organisations appears in Appendix 5 of this Annual Report.


  1. A full list of the legislation we administer can be found at: