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The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Commissions of Inquiry

Service Overview

The Department of Internal Affairs provides administrative assistance to Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry.

These Commissions are able to inquire into any matter of major public importance or concern to the Government of the day.

Their effectiveness lies in their ability to focus solely on the matter presented to them and to make any inquiries they see fit in order to get to the bottom of the issues.

An inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908 should be considered when the situation is so unusual that no other approach will do, such as:
  • there is considerable public anxiety about the matter
  • a major lapse in Government performance appears to be involved
  • circumstances giving rise to the inquiry are unique with few or no precedents
  • the issue cannot be dealt with through the normal machinery of Government or through the criminal or civil courts
  • the issue is in an area too new, complex or controversial for mature policy decisions to be taken.

The type of inquiry is decided upon after discussions between Ministers and officials, with advice from Crown Law Office and State Services Commission as required.

Guidelines for running a Commission of Inquiry
Although not intended as a substitute for legal advice, the publication Setting Up and Running Commissions of Inquiry, published in 2001, will assist everyone involved in a Commission of Inquiry, ranging from politicians who must decide when a Commission is appropriate through to members of the public who wish to attend or study them.

This publication is available:
*To read or print a pdf document you need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. This can be downloaded free from the Adobe site.

Recent Commissions of Inquiry