06 December 2021

This guide is for ministers with statutory Crown entity responsibilities and focuses on 3 types of statutory entities in the Crown Entities Act 2004 (CEA) — Crown agents, independent Crown entities and autonomous Crown entities.


New Zealandʼs Public Service has an enviable international reputation for integrity, responsiveness to government and effectiveness for New Zealanders. The work of over 80 statutory entities is immensely important for achieving outcomes for New Zealand and delivering public services to New Zealanders. At their best, statutory entities can help support a more efficient and better value-for-money government. Many of the important public services provided to New Zealanders by central government are supplied by Crown entities. Crown entities collectively employ around 70% of central government employees, hold about 54% of fixed assets on the Crownʼs balance sheet, and account for more than one-third of total government expenditure.

Governance boards are a central feature of the Crown entity system. Boards are being asked to meet new challenges: ensuring the voices of a diverse population are heard and represented, the need for diverse and inclusive decision-making and contributing to the recovery from COVID-19. Boards that you appoint must do things differently and better. They must work with you and create long-term value to New Zealand.

Expectations of Crown entities include:

  • better alignment of their work through collaboration with other government bodies as part of a unified, value-based government
  • supporting functional leadership for a whole of government approach
  • operating in a spirit of service1
  • supporting future-focused Māori Crown relationships
  • trusted and productive relationships with the monitoring department
  • streamlined planning and reporting through 4-year Statements of Intent (SOIs), and more meaningful reporting on achievements
  • stronger oversight of Crown entity.

Outcomes for New Zealand and services to New Zealanders depend on better alignment of all parts of government to deliver better public services. The new Public Service Act 2020 makes it easier for government agencies to operate more effectively and as a unified public service.

Under provisions of the Public Service Act 2020, Crown agents (a category of Crown entities) are treated as part of the Public Service for the purposes of shared principles, values, spirit of service and standards of integrity and conduct.Crown agents are closest to government. They can be directed by their minister to give effect to government policy relating to their functions and objectives, include core public-facing service delivery, and often need to work closely with Public Service departments to deliver public services. It makes sense for all Crown agents and public service agencies to be unified under a common purpose and common principles and values.

The 2 other categories of statutory entities are autonomous and independent Crown entities. They remain outside the Public Service but are part of the broader State services.

1See Spirit of Service Purpose, Principles, and Values.

2See Public Service Act 2020 – Part 1 (subparts 2 and 4).