Annual Report 2016-17 cover

Nature and scope of functions

We help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent.

Ko ta mātou he whakamana tangata kia tū haumaru, kia tū kaha, kia tū motuhake.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is present in almost every region of New Zealand and our people have connections to every community. Our work touches nearly all New Zealanders at some point in their lives.

Our role and functions

Our core role is to help build successful individuals and strong, healthy families and communities. In 2016/2017 we did this by providing the following services to New Zealanders:

  • assessment and payment of welfare benefits and entitlements
  • social housing assessments and services
  • funding the delivery of emergency housing
  • advice to the Government on social policy, employment support and training
  • assessment and payment of New Zealand Superannuation and Veterans’ Pensions
  • access to concessions and discounts for seniors, families and those on low incomes
  • student allowances and student loans
  • campaigns that challenge antisocial attitudes and behaviour
  • services to uphold the integrity of the welfare system
  • statutory care and protection of children and young people
  • youth justice services
  • adoption services
  • funding for community service providers and support for families and communities.

We do not work alone – we collaborate closely with other government agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs), advisory groups, communities and iwi to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of New Zealanders.

In April 2016 the Government announced its intention to transform the system for the care and support of vulnerable children and young people. As part of this transformation a new department, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, was created and from 1 April 2017 assumed MSD’s functions and resources relating to supporting children and young people, including responsibility for statutory care and protection.

For at least the first two years of its operation, we will be providing some shared services to support the operation of the new agency.

Our scope

As the administering department for Vote Social Development, in 2016/2017 we oversaw the expenditure of over $24 billion of public money and provided services and assistance to more than a million New Zealanders. Our client base included children, youth, families, working-age people, students, disabled people, seniors and communities.

We provided services to the following Ministers:

  • Minister for Social Development
  • Minister for Social Housing
  • Minister Responsible for Social Investment
  • Minister of Finance
  • Minister for Youth
  • Minister of Revenue
  • Minister for Seniors
  • Minister for Disability Issues
  • Minister of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Associate Minister for Social Development [1]
  • Associate Minister for Social Housing [2].

We monitored four Crown entities:

  • Children’s Commissioner
  • Families Commission (Superu)
  • New Zealand Artificial Limb Service
  • Social Workers Registration Board.

We supported the following statutory tribunals and advisory committees:

  • Social Security Appeal Authority
  • Student Allowance Appeal Authority
  • Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal [3]
  • nine Child, Youth and Family Residence Grievance Panels [4].

We provided leadership across government by:

  • chairing the Social Sector Board [5]
  • providing cross-agency leadership for two of the Government’s Better Public Services (BPS) results, and supporting a further six [6]
  • hosting the Children’s Action Plan Directorate [7], the Family Violence Unit, and the Place-Based Initiatives National Support Team
  • supporting Community Response Forums [8]
  • developing the Tairāwhiti place-based initiative.

We worked with Māori by:

  • co-ordinating two Treaty Settlement Social Sector Accords (Te Hiku and Tūhoe)
  • supporting the Waikato River Iwi Accord and the Taranaki Whānui Social Accord
  • engaging in joint social development planning with the iwi of Wairoa and Ngāti Rangi
  • progressing five formal Memoranda of Understanding (with Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Toa)
  • supporting the E Tu Whānau programme to increase awareness of family violence issues
  • establishing a Māori Investment Plan to improve sustainable employment outcomes for Māori, underpinned by our social investment approach.

Our legislation

There are many key pieces of legislation that provide the framework to support the decisions we make and to ensure a fair system for all New Zealanders. The most significant of these is the Social Security Act 1964 [9].

A full list of the legislation we administer can be found at about-msd/legislation.

Government priorities, MSD outcomes and priorities

Click image to enlarge


[1] Prior to 20 December 2016.

[2] From 20 December 2016.

[3] Until 31 March 2017.

[4] Until 31 March 2017.

[5] Until 30 June 2017.

[6] Until 31 March 2017. From 1 April 2017 we have leadership of one of the Government’s BPS results, and support two others.

[7] Until 31 March 2017.

[8] Until 31 March 2017.

[9] The Minister for Social Development introduced a Bill in 2016 to repeal and replace the Social Security Act with an improved legislative structure.