Video transcript: What we do

Transcript for a video explaining the role of the Auditor-General and our Office's work.

Title: What we do

It’s important that we live in a country where there is a high level of trust and confidence in government and in the public sector. Where people act with integrity, and where we can rely on the services that our taxes and rates pay for.

The Auditor-General acts as a watchdog over the government’s and councils’ spending. To do that it must be independent, so the Auditor-General reports to the whole of Parliament and not to the Government. Our independence from the Government of the day is protected by law.

We can tell it like it is, reporting freely on what we see happening in the public sector. No other organisation, public or private, has the overview of the whole public sector that the Auditor-General has.

The role has been around since 1846, and it’s an important part of our democratic system. The watchdog watches over the money collected from citizens and spent by the government and councils.
Most of the work involves carrying out thousands of audits every year, checking that the accounts are a fair reflection of an organisation’s performance and making recommendations for where it can improve.

Through the other functions, such as inquiries and performance audits, the Auditor-General can choose to take a more in-depth look at a public organisation’s performance and its use of public resources. We produce about 30 of those sorts of reports each year.

We audit a huge range of organisations – such as government departments, hospitals, the military, councils, universities and schools.

Every three years we look at what councils put in their long-term plans, and the consultation documents about those plans, so that residents can be fully informed about what their council’s intentions are and what it will cost. For example, we’re interested in how well councils are planning for the effects of climate change on their communities.

Our reports let New Zealanders know what’s going on in the public sector and where we can see room to improve.

For example, we’ll keep monitoring the New Zealand Defence Force’s progress with how well it is doing with its goal of creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment for its personnel.
We also help Parliament in its scrutiny of the Government’s performance. We offer advice to select committees about public organisations’ performance and suggest lines of inquiry for committees to use.

Our interest is your interest – a high-performing and trustworthy public sector. New Zealand is consistently near the top of international integrity rankings.

But we’re not just helping improve the public sector in New Zealand – we work with our Pacific neighbours, too, and contribute to a range of international auditing bodies.

Our independence is critical, we act with integrity and courage, people matter, and we’re here to make a difference.

For more information, visit

Title: Improving trust, promoting value


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