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Auditor-General's Commentary On “Te Tai Waiora: Wellbeing In Aotearoa New Zealand” Published

We have published a commentary on the Treasury’s well-being report, Te Tai Waiora: Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand (Te Tai Waiora).

In 2020, an amendment was made to the Public Finance Act 1989 requiring the Treasury to prepare a report about New Zealand’s well-being at least once every four years, and for well-being objectives to be incorporated into annual budget processes. The amendment was intended to build a broader understanding of New Zealand’s well-being and help increase the use of well-being information throughout the government.

Te Tai Waiora is the first of the Treasury’s well-being reports and another in its suite of “stewardship reports”. Our office takes a close interest in these reports as they provide information that helps the government to act as a long-term steward of the public interest. These reports should also strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the government’s actions.

Our work found that the Treasury’s well-being report is a significant achievement. Te Tai Waiora fulfils legislative requirements and provides a large and well-considered collection of information and analysis about the state of New Zealand’s well-being and the risks to its sustainability. It has also been used to improve the Treasury’s internal capability and knowledge about well-being, and to inform the government’s budget processes and other policy decisions.

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However, Te Tai Waiora will only reach its full potential if it is widely understood, discussed, and used. There is less indication of Te Tai Waiora starting wider discussions or debate about New Zealand’s well-being. We have questions about what all the technical information it contains means for New Zealanders and how the report can be used to improve people’s understanding of well-being and their trust in the government’s stewardship of well-being.

Preparing these well-being reports is an opportunity to build closer connections with New Zealanders, develop a wider understanding of what matters to them, counter misinformation, demonstrate public accountability, and strengthen trust and confidence in the public sector.

We suggest changes the Treasury could make to future reports to realise this potential. The Treasury is likely to publish a second well-being report in 2026 and told us that it might use a broader engagement and collaborative process. If this happens, it will be a positive step.

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