How the Ombudsman works

The Ombudsman looks at complaints about the acts and decisions of central and local government agencies and has wide powers to call them to account for their actions.

The Ombudsman is an independent person who’ll give your complaint careful and fair consideration.

They can consider whether an agency’s acts or decisions were unreasonable, unfair or wrong. If they were, the Ombudsman will say so and may suggest a solution.

The Ombudsman can investigate complaints against:

  • government agencies, including those responsible for benefit payments, housing, health, immigration, accident compensation, education, taxation and child support
  • local government agencies, including those responsible for roads, noise control, drainage, animal control, planning and building or resource consents.

The Ombudsman cannot investigate complaints about:

  • private individuals or companies
  • private training establishments
  • lawyers
  • members of parliament
  • decisions made by a full council
  • decisions made by a court or tribunal.

They can’t investigate complaints about police or government ministers, unless it relates to an official information request.

If you have a right to appeal a decision to a court or tribunal, it’s unlikely that the Ombudsman can investigate. They also can’t:

  • provide legal advice
  • award compensation
  • act as your advocate or agent.

How to make a complaint

What happens when you make your complaint to the Ombudsman?

Tips for resolving a complaint with a government agency

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