New Zealand Agency for International Development

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New Zealand Agency for International Development
Logo of NZAID
Agency overview
Jurisdiction New Zealand’s official development assistance (ODA)
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Amanda Ellis, Deputy Secretary International Development
Parent agency New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The New Zealand Aid Programme is the New Zealand Government's international aid and development agency. NZAID is division of New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Previously a semi-autonomous body, it was reintegrated back into the Ministry as the International Development Group following a restructure in 2009. Its Māori name is Nga Hoe Tuputupu-mai-tawhiti – the paddles that bring growth from afar.[1] The Head of the New Zealand Aid Programme is Amanda Ellis, an economist specializing in international trade and development. Ms Ellis is responsible directly to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully.


NZAID was established in 2002 by the Fifth Labour Government with the launching of a new overseas aid policy, "Towards a Safe and Just World Free of Poverty". The establishment of NZAID as a semi-autonomous body marked a significant shift in the management of New Zealand official development assistance (ODA). Prior to 2002, ODA had been managed by MFAT using largely non-specialist staff, policies and procedures.

A Ministerial Review in 2001 found that New Zealand's management of ODA lacked a clear mission: "Management and staff are pursuing poorly defined development assistance, foreign policy and trade objectives. There is a serious confusion of purpose. At the implementing end, desk officers are uncertain and concerned about the core mission of their work." The 2001 Review found that NZ ODA lacked focus; poverty analyses on which to base decisions; systematic analysis of past performance; and systematic use of good practice in aid design and delivery. The rotational staffing system (whereby career MFAT staff were rotated through the aid management division, rather than recruited specifically for skills and experience in ODA issues) had led to the relevant area of MFAT being regarded as "both a training ground for diplomats and a dumping ground for non-performers". Basic issues of staff and document management were found wanting. The establishment of NZAID was a response to these and other problems.

The Cabinet Minute (01) 28/8[2] which mandated the creation of NZAID "set the following major directions for New Zealand's ODA:

  • Elimination of poverty as the central focus of NZAID, which would need to be incorporated in a new policy framework.
  • Integration of the International Development Targets (IDTs) – subsequently incorporated into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – within the new policy framework, and in Pacific regional strategy papers.
  • A complete overhaul of the NZODA policy framework that would need to be strategic, accountable and focused, based on international best practice in ODA.
  • Bilateral programmes to be based on country-based poverty analysis and country programme strategies.
  • A core focus on the Pacific should be maintained.
  • Development Assistance to the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau should remain within the NZODA programme.
  • A bilateral assessment framework should consider the degree to which the ODA programme was too dispersed, and a strategic approach to funding multilateral allocations should be adopted.
  • A new education strategy should be developed that would give greater prominence to basic education needs and individual country circumstances.
  • NZODA should mainstream human rights, gender and environment throughout its operations.
  • A framework should be developed for determining the level of contributions to regional and multilateral institutions.
  • Monitoring and evaluation systems to measure the impact of New Zealand ODA should be established.
  • NZODA should develop 'centres of excellence' in aid delivery."


NZAID consists of six organisational divisions:

  • Deputy Secretary Office
  • Sustainable Economic Development
  • Partnerships, Humanitarian & Disaster Management
  • Development Strategy & Effectiveness
  • Global Bilateral
  • Pacific Bilateral

Development approach[edit]

The mission statement of the New Zealand Aid Programme expresses a desire to "support sustainable development in order to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world".[3] This includes carefully targeting aid dollars towards activities and projects that are likely to result in tangible differences to the quality of people's lives, particularly in the Pacific region.


  • Sustainable Development Fund (SDF)[4]
  • New Zealand Partnerships for International Development

Area of operation[edit]

In 2009, Cabinet agreed to the mission statement and directed that within this the core focus be sustainable economic development. Cabinet also directed that the Pacific remain the core geographic focus and receive an increased portion of New Zealand's ODA.

Controversy and criticism[edit]

In 2008, the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General and Audit New Zealand released critical reports on NZAID procedures and systems, leading to negative comments in New Zealand Parliament and critical media coverage.[5][6] NZAID has responded with a programme to "strengthen internal systems and processes".[7]

NGOs in New Zealand have defended the performance of NZAID.[8] The most significant NGO criticism of the New Zealand aid programme is that it should be larger.[9]

The New Zealand National Party have claimed that overseas aid needs "fresh thinking" and that "Over many years and various Governments, New Zealand aid has encouraged the growth of political structures and bureaucracy that are not sustainable." and that "there is no evidence that the major problems identified in the 2005 report by Professor Marilyn Waring have been rectified."[10]

Trevor Loudon, a member of the free market liberal ACT Party, has criticised NZAID as an organisation, and individuals within it, for having a "socialist bent" and funding organisations that are "more political than aid oriented".[11] However, there has been noticeably less criticism of this sort in New Zealand than in Australia.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Who is NZAID?, New Zealand Agency for International Development website
  2. ^ Ministerial Review of Progress in Implementing 2001 Cabinet Recommendations Establishing NZAID
  3. ^ NZAID International Development Policy Statement: Supporting Sustainable Development.
  4. ^ "Sustainable Development Fund: SDF (Legacy)". New Zealand Aid Programme. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 2015-02-08. The final funding round of the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) closed 16 April 2012 and has been replaced by New Zealand Partnerships for International Development fund. Legacy SDF activities continue to be implemented. 
  5. ^ e.g. Audrey Young (18 February 2008). "NZAid 'too weak' to cope with more money, say MPs". The New Zealand Herald. 
  6. ^ "New Zealand Agency for International Development: Management of overseas aid programmes.". Office of the Auditor-General New Zealand. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  7. ^ NZAID | Who is NZAID? | Our organisation
  8. ^ NZAID's effectiveness needs to be recognised
  9. ^ Campaigns
  10. ^
  11. ^ "The New Zeal Blog has moved...". 
  12. ^

External links[edit]