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Keeping people informed

General News | 05/04/2009

The government has been working to make sure that the people of Auckland – and the rest of New Zealand – are able to find out about decisions as they happen, and know when there are opportunities to participate in the parliamentary process.

The Department of Internal Affairs has the responsibility for informing people, because it is the central government agency responsible for local government.  In doing so it is guided by the Cabinet Manual provisions which state:

“Governments may legitimately use public funds for advertising and publicity to explain their policies, and to inform the public of the government services available to them and of their rights and responsibilities. …government advertising should not be conducted in a manner that results in public funds being used to finance publicity for party political purposes”.

The Department has also noted that the Royal Commission (33.9, "Managing the Transition’) identified the need for a comprehensive communications strategy so that existing council staff and the Auckland public understand and support the changes being made.

What has been done

Since the Royal Commission reported at the end of March, and the Government made its first decisions in response, The Department of Internal Affairs has:

  • Set up this website to provide easy access to information.  As of last week, the website had attracted 16,540 visitors since it was launched, and 82,000 page views.  It cost $27,000 to establish. On-going costs are met within existing Department of Internal Affairs budgets.
  • Published a plain-English ‘decisions document’ which outlines what the government has decided to do and compares this with what we have now and what the Royal Commission decided. The document was printed at a cost of $12,000. There have also been hundreds of downloads of this document from the website, and it has been made available from other websites also.
  • Distributed more than 500,000 copies of a pamphlet, Making Auckland Greater, which summarises decisions and points people to where they can get fuller information. The total cost of production was $59,000.  Taxpayers’ money was saved by taking up an offer by the Auckland Regional Council to distribute the pamphlet along with information being sent out in any case, so there was no distribution cost.
  • Sent email copies of all the decisions material to the 3,500 submitters to the Royal Commission.
  • Placed advertising in newspapers, bought a small amount of on-line advertising to generate “click through” to the site, and placed some advertising on radio to reach a wider audience, including advertising aimed at ethnic populations – for example, Hindi language speakers.  The budget for this is $153,000.
  • Published Cabinet papers (which are considered by Ministers when making decisions).
  • Replied to many questions sent in through the website or in response to our emails, and (in most cases) published the questions and replied on the website
  • Provided information to the Minister of Local Government as he replies to public correspondence and inquiries
  • Established 0800 22 78 78 for information on Making Auckland Greater

Total cost

The total cost of public information of communications associated with the government’s response to the Royal Commission recommendations (in addition to normal department costs) is estimated to be $533,000.  This includes the costs above and of people brought in to help with organisation of events, the launch of various stages of the government response, production of media kits, writing, design, advice, distribution, and advertising.  It’s a normal part of the work of the department of Internal Affairs to support the government in announcing decisions, and in addition to the direct costs noted here, department communications staff have contributed to keeping people informed as part of their normal jobs.  The Department of Internal Affairs, like other parts of the Public Service, is working to do “more with less”, and is meeting the cost within its existing budgets under Vote: Local Government.

If you have suggestions about how we can improve our public information on Auckland governance, please email

Note: the costs above are GST exclusive.

Links to resources

Making Auckland Greater pamphlet (.pdf) 160 Kb

Newspaper advertising (.pdf) 150kb

Online advertising 1 (.gif) 10kb

Online advertising 2 (.gif) 10kb

Online advertising 3 (.pdf) 150kb

Radio advertising - English language (mp3) 1mb

Radio advertising - Hindi language (mp3) 500 kb