Chief Ombudsman's Strategic Intentions - 2023 to 2028
Excerpt from Introduction
As Ombudsman, I give effect to a number of key democratic and human rights measures aimed at safeguarding the rights of people and promoting government accountability and transparency.
I am appointed by Parliament to carry out activities balanced between:
- a reactive focus on resolving complaints from the public about administrative conduct and access to official information, as well as disclosures about serious wrong-doing; and
- a proactive focus on resolving, investigating and inspecting issues, monitoring compliance and good practice, and providing advice, guidance, and training.
Parliament recognises the important work I do, which helps ensure New Zealand continues to be one of the best democracies in the world in terms of openness, transparency, and accountability.
I will maintain and strive to continually improve my existing practices in the areas of complaints-handling, proactive interventions, examination of places of detention, disability rights, and provision of agency learning and advice.
I will continue to build my enhanced complaints-handling and proactive monitoring and intervention in relation to Oranga Tamariki and its care or custody providers. My role in the area of protected disclosures is also expanding, including an increasing volume of enquiries and disclosures, and new expectations for advice and guidance.
I will also continue my programme to develop and sustain a support network with my fellow integrity institutions in the Asia-Pacific region.
I am committed to further developing an understanding of Te Ao Māori within my office. While I am independent of the Crown, I have an obligation to ensure Crown agencies apply the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi in their actions and decisions. Enhancing fairness to Māori and all members of our diverse New Zealand community will be a continuing focus.
The after effects of the global pandemic continue to have a significant impact on complaints. In 2022/23, I received the second highest number of complaints ever,  exceeding the number of complaints received in the years following the Canterbury earthquakes and the early pandemic period of 2020/21. Complaints received in 2022/23 were 46 percent higher than the average number received in the four years prior to the pandemic.  Through predictive data modelling, and in anticipation of complaints arising from extreme weather events, I expect the trend of higher complaints than usual to continue. While clearance rates remain high, timeliness is beginning to be affected. There is also a flow on effect of a high number of complaints on hand. Significant efforts will continue to manage any ongoing surge in complaints, with dedicated resources provided by Parliament.
I am aware that agencies are facing pressures of work and resourcing in the current environment, and I will seek to understand their situation, provide advice and guidance to help them get it right first time, and make recommendations that are relevant and achievable.
The ability to pivot and adapt my approach and apply my resources granted by Parliament to meet these changing circumstances and demands has been a hallmark of how I have operated. I will continue to operate in this manner, to ensure there is Tuia kia ōrite - Fairness for all.