Ministry of Social Development (New Zealand)

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Ministry of Social Development
Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora
Agency overview
JurisdictionNew Zealand
HeadquartersThe Aurora Conference Centre
56 The Terrace
Wellington 6011
Employees7,973 FTE staff
(30 June 2020)[1]
Annual budgetTotal budget for 2019/20
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Debbie Power,
    Chief Executive

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD; Māori: Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora) is the public service department of New Zealand charged with advising the New Zealand Government on social policy, and providing social services. MSD is the largest public service department, employing public servants in over 200 locations around New Zealand. MSD delivers its programmes and services through a number of business groups and agencies.[3]

Functions and responsibilities[edit]

The Ministry of Social Development is responsible for providing income support, superannuation, employment support, student loans and allowances, housing assistance, and allocating funding to community providers. It is also the Government's chief social policy adviser. MSD also designs and provides community services in conjunction with other organisations.[4]

MSD also hosts several other government ministries and services including the Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People, Te Kāhui Kāhu (Social Services Accreditation), the Office for Seniors, and the Ministry of Youth Development.[4] Between 2019 and 2023, the Ministry also hosted the Independent Children's Monitor, a children's ombudsman.[5]


A Ministry of Social Development office in Glen Eden, West Auckland

The Ministry of Social Development was created on 1 October 2001 through a merger of the Ministry of Social Policy and the Department of Work and Income. Some of the functions of the Ministry were historically performed by the Pensions Department, Social Security Department, the Department of Social Welfare, and the Department of Work and Income.[6]

On 1 July 2006, the former Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) was integrated into MSD as a service line. On 1 March 2010, MSD established a Senior Services division. On 1 February 2011, the Office of the Community and Voluntary Sector was relocated from MSD to the Department of Internal Affairs. In July 2011, the Ministry of Commerce assumed responsibility for the Retirement Commission, which had previously been under MSD.[6]

On 20 August 2012, the Ministry established a Youth Service unit. On 14 April 2014, MSD assumed responsibility for social housing assessment and income-related rent subsidies.[6] On 31 October 2017, the Ministry's CYFS service line was replaced by a new ministry, Oranga Tamariki (the Ministry for Children).[6][7]

In 2019, the Independent Children's Monitor was established as a business unit within the Ministry of Social Development. In May 2023, the Children's Monitor was transferred to the Education Review Office with a wide mandate to oversee the Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) system.[5]

In February 2021, the Auditor-General investigated a scheme by the Ministry of Social Development where private landlords were paid exorbitant rental rates for emergency housing; some of which was reportedly unfit for human habitation.[8] In mid-December 2021, the Auditor-General released a report criticising the Ministry for paying more than NZ$37 million in inflated rents between November 2017 and June 2020 to private landlords and property manager to provide emergency housing for homeless people. The report found that the Ministry did not exercise control over rental prices which drove up rental rates. Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni expressed surprise that the Ministry had not consulted her, while the National Party's housing spokesperson Nicola Willis called for Sepuloni to hold the Ministry to account.[9][10]


The Ministry serves nine portfolios and eight ministers.[11]

Officeholder Portfolio(s) Other Responsibilities
Hon Louise Upston Lead Minister (Ministry of Social Development)
Minister for Social Development and Employment
Minister for Child Poverty Reduction
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
Hon Nicola Willis Minister for Social Investment
Hon Penny Simmonds Minister for Disability Issues Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment
Hon Chris Bishop Minister of Housing
Hon Tama Potaka Associate Minister of Housing (Social Housing)
Hon Casey Costello Minister for Seniors
Hon Matt Doocey Minister for Youth
Hon Karen Chhour Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual violence

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FTE employees by department". Workforce data. Public Service Commission. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Total Appropriations for Each Vote". Budget 2019. The Treasury.
  3. ^ "About MSD". Ministry of Social Development.
  4. ^ a b "Our responsibiities". Ministry of Social Development. Archived from the original on 24 March 2023. Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Chief Executive of Aroturuki Tamariki – Independent Children's Monitor appointed". Public Service Commission. 13 April 2023. Archived from the original on 12 August 2023. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d "Historical Timeline". Ministry of Social Development. Archived from the original on 2 August 2023. Retrieved 26 December 2023.
  7. ^ Kenny, Katie (31 October 2017). "Ministry for Vulnerable Children is changing its name, again". Stuff. Archived from the original on 30 September 2023. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  8. ^ Fonseka, Dileepa (25 February 2021). "Auditor-General investigates MSD scheme which paid landlords $3k per week for 'uninhabitable' houses". Stuff. Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Minister believes MSD should have told her about paying inflated rents for emergency accomodation [sic]". Radio New Zealand. 15 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  10. ^ Cooke, Henry (14 December 2021). "Auditor-General slams emergency housing rentals, says they likely drove rents higher". Stuff. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  11. ^ "Our Ministers – Ministry of Social Development". Retrieved 15 February 2023.

External links[edit]