25 January 2024

The Kiwis Count survey measures the trust and confidence of New Zealanders in the Public Service.

Providing insights on trust and confidence

The Kiwis Count survey gives valuable insight into people’s trust and confidence in public services. It covers a broad range of services provided or funded by central government including health, education, social and emergency services. The survey identifies what drives trust and where there are opportunities to improve public services.

You can find out more about our work on public trust and confidence and how we measure up internationally at Trust in the Public Service.

Latest quarterly results

Headline measures as of December 2023:  

  • 79% of New Zealanders trust public services based on their personal experience. This is slightly down from 80% last quarter but is consistent with the range of trust scores over the past 10 years.
  • Trust in the Public Service brand is 58%, which is down from 61% in the previous quarter.
  • Trust in the private sector brand is 47%, lower than it was for the September quarter.

The graph below shows the scores given for each quarter.

Results in 2020 identified a spike in trust in the Public Service. While some of this may be attributed to a change in methodology, some of it’s likely to be related to COVID-19, as the Public Service was central to the national pandemic response in 2020. Trust in the Public Service brand has dropped since the December 2020 peak but still remains  higher than the pre-COVID-19 ratings, which were around 50% or lower.

Demographic dimensions of trust

Aotearoa New Zealand is a diverse and inclusive society and levels of trust vary for different communities. Māori, Pacific, and disabled respondents tend to have lower trust based on personal experience with public services than other groups. Asian respondents tend to have higher trust levels than other groups.

Respondents in the oldest age group (65 years and over) tend to report higher trust and the youngest group (under 25 years) are least positive. 

There are small differences by gender, however, this difference is within the margin of error for the survey.

The graph below shows the scores given for each year by several demographic dimensions — ethnicity, disability, age, region of residence and gender.

Scores have been aggregated on an annual basis to reduce the volatility caused by small sample sizes for some dimensions. This means that the latest year’s scores are provisional year-to-date estimates until the December quarter results are released.  Please note that June 2023 was the first time that the Kiwis Count collection included MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) as a separate category under ethnicity.

Why people trust

A new question on drivers of trust was added into the survey for the September 2023 quarter as we are interested in understanding more about what factors influence trust in the Public Service. This question covers aspects of the Public Service Act 2020 including Public Service values and spirit of service, as well as covering elements of the OECD’s framework on the drivers of public trust.

Results from the December quarter show that high proportions of New Zealanders think the Public Service do their best to help New Zealanders (71%), are generally honest (70%), and treat people with respect (69%).

Areas where people were less likely to agree was when they were asked if they thought the Public Service change services in response to feedback from the public (41%) and admit responsibility when they make mistakes (39%).

The graph below shows the scores given for the drivers of trust by demographic dimensions — ethnicity, disability, age, region of residence and gender.

About Kiwis Count

From June 2023, the size of the Kiwis Count sample has increased to 2,000 people each quarter (previously 1000) to allow for more robust and varied analysis. Every quarter the Kiwis Count survey asks people about their trust and confidence in public services, as well as a range of demographic information that helps us understand who we’re listening to.

In the December 2023 quarter, data from approximately 2,000 respondents was collected. This provides a set of around 7,000 responses to date across the 2023 year, in addition to the data collected in previous years. Legacy data — dating back to 2012 — is used to illustrate overall trends, primarily in the quarterly graph. 

The Public Service Commission has run the survey continuously since 2012 and twice on a ‘one-off’ basis before this in 2007 and 2009. We provide information on this website about the changes in the survey over time. 

Kiwis Count survey methodology and archive