Information sheet

Inquiry into aspects of the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme

We announced an inquiry into aspects of the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme (STAPP) on 5 February 2021.

We have produced this information sheet about the inquiry and our work generally.

Our main role is to audit public sector organisations

The Auditor-General is responsible for auditing the financial and performance information of public organisations. We audit every public organisation, including government departments, councils, district health boards, and local schools. Each year, we audit about 3500 organisations.

We also, each year, carry out some performance audits, or inquiries, into a public organisation’s use of resources.

Inquiries - reporting our findings

Under the Public Audit Act 2001, the Auditor-General can inquire into a public organisation’s use of its resources. Our work is designed to give independent assurance that public organisations are operating, and accounting for, their performance in keeping with Parliament’s intentions.

Inquiries focus on the process followed, rather than whether a particular decision was right or wrong. Our inquiry work allows us to describe what happened and why, and where appropriate make recommendations if the process could have been better.

We cannot intervene in or reverse decisions

There are limits to our role. We cannot change what a public organisation is doing or direct that it acts on our findings or recommendations. We cannot order redress or other remedies. We also cannot intervene in or reverse decisions made by a government department or Minister; only a court can overturn these types of decisions on an application for judicial review.

What is the STAPP inquiry about?

Our inquiry is focusing on aspects of the STAPP. We are examining how applications to the STAPP from tourism businesses have been assessed against the Programme’s criteria.

We will look at:

  • the information available to potential applicants about the Programme’s eligibility criteria and assessment process;
  • how applications from tourism businesses have been assessed, including the three businesses that received funding approval before the formal application round began;
  • whether there is any evidence that applications have been assessed inconsistently; and
  • any other related matter that we consider it desirable to report on.

We will not be examining the merits of individual applications or particular funding decisions.

See the background and Terms of Reference for our inquiry.

What work will we be doing?

The broad stages of our inquiry are:

  • information gathering, through a mixture of reviewing documentation and files and meeting with people;
  • analysing information, and checking our factual understanding and conclusions with government agencies and others as necessary;
  • preparing our findings and draft report;
  • giving specific stakeholders an opportunity to comment on our draft report, to check accuracy and to respond to any adverse findings; and
  • finalising our report.

We are in the initial stages of our inquiry work and we have not decided what groups we may need to seek information from in addition to government agencies.

We will publish our findings when we have completed our inquiry.

Because of the investigative nature of inquiries, we carry out our work in private. We do not provide public updates on progress or the substance of what we are doing .

When will we finish?

At this point, we are unable to give completion dates for our inquiry work. There is significant work required and it can take some months to complete an inquiry and report.

Where can I find further information?

You can find further information about our inquiry process, and examples of our previous work, at