Guide to the Auditor-General's auditing standards

All auditors in New Zealand must comply with auditing standards issued by the External Reporting Board (the XRB). The professional, ethical, auditing, and assurance standards of the XRB do not always take full account of the particular scope and nature of public sector audits. Therefore, the Auditor-General issues their own standards for all public sector auditing work done on their behalf that supplement the auditing standards issued by the XRB.

Important! This is the version of the Standards presented to Parliament in March 2023. Auditors should check the online portal for any updates after March 2023.

The Auditor-General’s Code of Ethics

This Code sets out the ethical standards that the Auditor-General and those who carry out work on their behalf need to meet. 

The Code sets high requirements that auditors need to meet to protect the Auditor-General’s independence.

Icon of binoculars to draw attention to this pointNOTE: The 2023 version of the Code sets out the independence requirements clearly and concisely. Auditors can access a Guide to support the application of the Auditor-General’s Code of Ethics in the online portal for auditors.


This standard requires all firms auditing on the Auditor-General's behalf to design, implement, and operate a system of quality management to manage the quality of their engagements.


This standard sets out the Auditor-General's expectations for the eligibility and appointment of "engagement quality reviewers" to review an auditor's work before the auditor signs an audit report. 


This standard sets out detailed requirements for reporting to the Office of the Auditor-General (deadlines and the information to provide).

Some matters have to be reported immediately (such as suspected fraud). Different types of updates about annual audits have different deadlines, as do updates about work other than annual audits. 


This standard sets out detailed requirements for auditing the appropriations administered by government departments. 


This standard spells out that the Auditor-General expects Appointed Auditors to:

  • know what's in section 16(1) of the Public Audit Act 2001 and be alert to issues and risks under that section;
  • look at the spending of the chairperson and chief executive each year;
  • look at the spending of other key management personnel on a rotational basis; and
  • report on any of these matters.


This standard sets out the requirements for auditors expressing an opinion on the performance information in an annual report that says what an organisation has done. Many public organisations are required or choose to prepare this sort of performance information and have it audited.

The auditor needs to stay up to date with the laws and regulations that specify the form, content, preparation, publication, and audit of the performance information being reported.


This standard sets out principles, requirements, and application guidance for auditors carrying out performance audits under section 16 of the Public Audit Act 2001


This standard covers how we carry out inquiries under section 18 of the Public Audit Act 2001. Inquiries have to comply with the the Auditor-General’s Code of Ethics and a professional standard for managing the quality of work (PES 3). The standard also describes how inquiries have to ensure legality, fairness, and reasonableness.


This standard sets out the principles, requirements, and application guidance for "other auditing services" carried out under section 17 of the Public Audit Act 2001. The Auditor-General's staff can carry out other auditing work for public organisations but there are strict limits to protect the Auditor-General's independence (see the Auditor-General’s Code of Ethics).


The Auditor-General is required by law to do more than annual audits. Types of other audits that have to be done include audits of councils' long-term plans under the Local Government Act 2002, certain information disclosures issued under the Commerce Act 1986, and an audit of the New Zealand Health Plan under the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act 2022. 

Auditors doing any of these audits on the Auditor-General’s behalf have to apply the Auditor-General's Code of Ethics and have a system for managing quality (see AG PES 3).

AG ISA 200 

This standard sets out how an appointed auditor is expected to keep the public sector perspective in mind during their audit.

In essence, there is an obligation to be the "eyes and ears" of the Auditor-General. The standard also refers to the need to comply with the Auditor-General's auditing standards.

AG ISA 210 

This standard sets out the content requirements for audit engagement letters, which auditors send to the organisation that will be audited (a template is provided in the standard). 

AG ISA 240 

This standard sets out the expectations of auditors in relation to fraud. Auditors are expected to assess the risks, assess the public organisation's policies and procedures, respond appropriately to suspected fraud during the annual audit, immediately report any suspected fraud to the Office of the Auditor-General, and report any matters to the appropriate parties.

Note that it isn't the auditor's job to identify or prevent fraud. The public organisation is supposed to set up effective systems and controls to do that. 

AG ISA 250

This standard sets out in some detail what the Auditor-General expects when auditors consider laws and regulations that apply to public organisations. It isn't broad legal compliance - it's about considering laws and regulations that could affect material amounts and disclosures in the financial statements and performance information. 

AG ISA 260 

This standard sets out how auditors meet the communication expectations when carrying out public sector audits on the Auditor-General's behalf, particularly for public organisations that do not have a governing body. 

AG ISA 300 

This standard makes it clear that auditors, when planning their audits, need to consider any direction or guidance they've received from the Office of the Auditor-General. They also need to consider the purpose of the public organisation they're auditing – in particular, whether its main purpose is to provide goods or services for community or social benefit or to meet commercial objectives.

AG ISA 315

This standard is about identifying and assessing the risks of material misstatement (that is, the public organisation getting something wrong in the annual report, and it's a big enough error to matter). The appendix to this standard lists some examples of conditions and events that may indicate risks of material misstatement for public organisations.

AG ISA 320 

This standard is about materiality - deciding what is "big enough to matter" for the public organisation being audited. Materiality is considered for both financial and performance information. There are extra requirements for auditors to consider effectiveness and efficiency, waste, and a lack of probity or financial prudence, as well as any other instructions the Office of the Auditor-General might have issued about materiality.

AG ISA 570 

This standard covers what an auditor needs to consider, and how to involve the Office of the Auditor-General, when the public organisation they're auditing has run into financial difficulties. 

AG ISA 580 

There are formal letters that a public organisation has to provide to the auditor at the end of an audit. This standard describes what's different in those letters for a public sector audit, and includes templates. The letter templates are available to appointed auditors in Word format in the online portal for auditors. 

AG ISA 600 

This standard sets out, in some detail, how auditors need to proceed when auditing consolidated information for a group of public organisations. It can be complex - for example, there can be organisations that form part of the group financially but are not public organisations. 

AG ISA 700 

This standard sets out specific phrases to be used in the audit report, the positioning of specific sections of the audit report, and when auditors should consult with the Office of the Auditor-General about audit reports. Templates are provided in the standard. 

AG ISA 701 

Some audit reports include a section on key audit matters. This standard clarifies that auditors should communicate key audit matters for performance information, where relevant, as well as the financial information. 

AG ISA 705 

This standard allows sets out the considerations required and the wording to be used (templates are provided in the standard) when issuing a modified opinion. 

AG ISA 706 

Similarly to AG ISA 705, this standard sets out the considerations required and the wording to be used (templates are provided in the standard) when including an emphasis of matter paragraph and/or other matter paragraph. 

AG ISA 810 

Some public organisations produce summaries of their financial and performance information. This standard sets out the Auditor-General's requirements for audit reports on such summaries.