30 April 2024

The Public Service cannot operate without the trust and confidence of the people we serve.

He mea tino whaitake te ngākau pono me whakawhirinaki mai a te iwi whānui Why we care about trust and confidence

The Public Service exists to serve New Zealand and can only do so if the relationship is positive and built on trust.

Trust is the foundation for the legitimacy of public institutions and a functioning democratic system. It is crucial for maintaining social cohesion and driving better outcomes. Trusting citizens are more likely to engage in democratic processes. They also contribute to designing effective services and join in tackling complex problems.

New Zealand has an enviable international reputation for its impartial, trusted public service. Public servants work hard to deliver the services that earn the trust of New Zealanders.

Trust and confidence cannot be taken for granted. We need to keep working hard to build and maintain it, because without public trust the Public Service loses its social licence to operate.

What drives trust

Responsiveness, and integrity are key trust drivers. Responsive services are essential to building trust — if we aren’t meeting people’s needs, they won’t trust us. We know that trust is not only about what an individual has experienced, but also about what their family and wider social network has experienced.

Kiwis Count

We’ve also got to act with integrity and be in the job to help people — these are key aspects that build trust. Public servants uphold long-held principles that guide their work:

  • They’re politically neutral
  • They give free and frank advice
  • They’re appointed based on merit
  • They support open government and stewardship

Principles and values 

The fundamental characteristic of the Public Service is acting with a spirit of service to the community. We know that making a positive contribution to society is the most common reason people join the Public Service. The spirit of service is what unites us.

Spirit of Service

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) selected New Zealand for a country study on the main drivers of public trust. This was part of an ongoing programme of work supporting trust in government. Some findings have been released by the OECD as part of their cross-national report and a full New Zealand report was published on 1 March 2023.

Trust in Government — OECD

Uiuinga ki Aotearoa New Zealand measures of trust and confidence

The Kiwis Count survey measures the trust and confidence of New Zealanders in the Public Service. It asks respondents why they’ve given a score, based on their most recent service experience and perception of the Public Service overall.

Latest results as of March 2024

  • 81% of New Zealanders trust public services based on their personal experience. This is slightly up from 79% last quarter and is consistent with the range of trust scores over the past 10 years.
  • Trust in the Public Service brand is 59%, which is up slightly from the December 2023 quarter (58%) and remains above pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • Results show that high proportions of New Zealanders think the Public Service treat people with respect (73%), do their best to help New Zealanders (71%), and are generally honest (71%). Sixty percent of respondents agreed that the Public Service is open and transparent with information, up from 54% in the December quarter.

See our Kiwis Count survey page for more information.

Kiwis Count

Ngā rārangitanga ā-ao International rankings in trust and confidence

Across a range of international indexes, New Zealand ranks as a world-leader in trust and confidence in government.  

OECD data shows New Zealanders have high trust in public institutions compared to many other countries.

Government at a glance 2023 — OECD

Trust in Government - OECD

Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions in New Zealand – OECD

New Zealand performance in international rankings related to trust in the Public Service 

2nd Place 

The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index 2023

2nd Place  

The International Civil Service Effectiveness (InCiSE) Index 2019

3rd Place

Transparency International 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index  

4th Place European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS) Index of Public Integrity 
5th Place  Strong Institutions in Chandler Good Government Index 2024 for the ability of multiple government agencies to act coherently and collaboratively, as well as capability and performance of the Public Service 
5th Place

Public sector performance indicator in The European Institute of Public Administration International Benchmarking Study: Sub-Study 2022(PDF, 11 MB)

7th Place

Public Services Index 2023, ranking data on 200 countries gathered by academics


Freedom in the World 2023 Index including 40/40 for political rights and 59/60 for civil liberties