Department of Labour (New Zealand)

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Department of Labour
Te Tari Mahi
Department of Labour logo
Department overview
Dissolved 2012
Superseding agency Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Jurisdiction New Zealand
Employees 1500
Minister responsible Hon. Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Labour
Department executive Nigel Bickle (Acting), Secretary of Labour

The New Zealand Department of Labour (Māori: 'Te Tari Mahi') was established in 1891. Its primary role was to improve the performance of the labour market and, through this, strengthen the economy and increase the standard of living for those in New Zealand. The Department of Labour was integrated into the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on 1 July 2012.

The following information applies to the Department of Labour as it was before its integration into the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The department's last acting chief executive (before integration into MBIE) was the Secretary of Labour Nigel Bickle. The department was responsible to several cabinet ministers, including:


The Department of Labour was made up of six work groups. These were:

  • Immigration Group
  • Labour Group
  • Policy and Research Group
  • Business Services Group
  • Legal and International Group
  • Executive Group

The Department’s Chief Executive also served as the Secretary of Labour. In this capacity, he was legally responsible for carrying out the Department’s work as directed by the Government through its responsible Ministers, and as detailed in the Statement of Intent. Responsibility for this work was delegated to the Deputy Chief Executives whom, along with the Chief Executive, comprised the Department’s Strategic Leadership Team.

Immigration Group[edit]

Immigration delivered immigration and settlement services and provided immigration instructions advice on these areas to the Government.

Labour Group[edit]

Labour delivered employment relationship and workplace health and safety services and provided policy advice to the Government on both these areas and the ACC.

Policy and Research Group[edit]

Policy and Research Group provided the Ministers with a strategic whole-of-labour market policy perspective on employment, immigration, and accident compensation.

Business Services Group[edit]

The Business Services Group provided a range of central services, including advice on policy and standard setting, which were designed to improve the Department’s overall capabilities. Responsibilities included human resources, information communications technology, information management, communications, and financial management (including property and procurement).

Legal and International Group[edit]

Legal and International provided legal services and advice to the Department and Ministers, and oversaw official information and privacy requirements. International Services managed the government's relationship with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and maintained an overview of linkages between international developments and domestic policy issues. Legal and International also represented the Department in courts and tribunals, and performed a key role in the development of legislative reforms and their passage through Parliament.

Executive Group[edit]

Executive Group provided dedicated support functions and services to the Chief Executive. The major focus was to provide the Chief Executive with risk, reputation and governance assurance.  These functions were carried out with the assistance of the Internal Audit Team and the Departmental Portfolio Management Office. The Executive Branch also led work on critical Departmental projects.


On 15 March 2012 the Prime Minister, The Right Honourable John Key, announced that the Department of Labour would be integrated into a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with three other government agencies, the Department of Building and Housing, the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Ministry of Economic Development. The Hon Steven Joyce is the new Minister response for the new Ministry. The Ministry began operating on 1 July 2012.

External links[edit]