The New Zealand Productivity Commission Te Kōmihana Whai Hua o Aotearoa has released its interim report 'A fair chance for all' which examines the issue of persistent disadvantage in Aotearoa New Zealand as well as how we can address it. 

Read the interim report or overview on the New Zealand Productivity Commission website.

The report found four key barriers

  • Power imbalances – These shape government systems and policies. Policy responsiveness is strongly skewed toward those who have political and economic power, which entrenches the cycle of disadvantage.
  • Discrimination and the ongoing impact of colonisation – As people of European descent became the ethnic majority in Aotearoa New Zealand, they introduced policies that benefited some of them at the expense of Māori. Prejudiced and paternalistic attitudes toward Māori continue to shape policies impacting Māori. Discrimination against other groups is also prevalent, including towards Pacific peoples, women, migrants, and disabled people.
  • Siloed and fragmented government – Our public services are organised through ministries and agencies focused on separate sectors (e.g. education, health and welfare) that provide standardised services to individual people. This approach works until people’s needs become more complex. Despite reforms to get the public sector to work across these 'silos', there is a way to go yet to achieve a truly integrated and system-wide approach to tackling issues.
  • Short-termism and status quo bias – Government planning and decision making is not sufficiently focused on long-term goals. There is a tendency to be risk-averse and to favour the status quo and make only incremental changes.


The Commission’s recommendations focus on the following system shifts: 

  • the design and operation of the public management system, 
  • prioritising equity, 
  • wellbeing and social inclusion, 
  • re-focusing public accountability settings, and 
  • improving monitoring and evaluation to enable system learning.

The barriers and system shifts will resonate with those involved with the Future for Local Government review.

Find out more

There will also be an opportunity to hear from Dr Ganesh Nana, Chair of the New Zealand Productivity Commission at the Taituarā Conference 2022 in November. We look forward to seeing you there.