Wellbeing Budget 2021

Our Recovery

Social capital: our connections

Social capital includes the social connections, attitudes, norms, and institutions that contribute to societal wellbeing, for instance, through giving us a strong sense of belonging.

The high levels of social trust and spirit of care and reciprocity shown by New Zealanders have helped make our response to COVID-19 one of the most successful in the world. The approach New Zealanders supported - staying home to save lives - meant that we were able to eliminate community transmission without repeated and protracted returns to Level 4 restrictions nationwide.

Recent surveys show that New Zealanders have high levels of trust in government and the public service. In February 2021, Te Kawa Mataaho the Public Service Commission found that 69 percent of New Zealanders say they trust the public service.[17] This was up from 51 percent the previous year and is the highest result since the survey was started in 2007. In a separate survey, from July 2020, 78 percent of respondents agreed that the Government's management of the pandemic had increased their trust in government.[18] New Zealand was also ranked first alongside Denmark in the Transparency International Corruptions Perception Index in 2020, as the two countries considered by experts and business people to have the least corrupt public service.[19]

Case study: Whānau Ora and COVID-19

Whānau Ora helped to maintain social capital during COVID-19 by supporting the health and wellbeing of communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Government's COVID-19 response included over $50 million for Whānau Ora providers to provide tailored responses for their communities during the pandemic. Through this, Whānau Ora agencies delivered over 260,000 support packages to over 326,000 whānau members.

A Māori influenza vaccination programme was also established, drawing from the $9.5 million that was committed through the COVID-19 health package for DHBs and Māori health providers to work collaboratively together to implement outreach vaccination initiatives. As a result, 59.1 percent of all Māori aged 65 and over were vaccinated.  

$8 million was put towards increasing outreach services for vulnerable Māori - in particular, kaumātua, hapū māmā, and whānau without access to care. In addition, approximately 125 Māori health and disability providers received additional funding.

The wellbeing supplements to the HLFS also show that New Zealanders' trust in each other and in New Zealand institutions (the health system, Parliament, Police, and the media) was largely constant across the December 2020 quarter and March 2021 quarters.

Nonetheless, there were key differences in levels of trust in certain institutions between different groups of people. Māori and Pacific people had lower trust in the Police than the general population. People in urban areas had higher trust in New Zealanders and institutions than people living in rural areas. Sole parents also had lower levels of trust in people and institutions than the general population. Both recent and long-term migrants had higher levels of trust in people and institutions than people born in New Zealand, with recent migrants reporting the highest levels of trust.

Māori, Pacific, and Asian New Zealanders were more likely to report experiencing discrimination in the past 12 months than the general population. Females were also more likely to report experiencing discrimination than males. Sole parents and the unemployed were among other groups who were more likely to report experiencing discrimination.

However, there have been improvements in reported attitudes towards cultural diversity. Immediately following the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain in March 2019, 43 percent felt that New Zealanders were accepting of cultural and religious diversity, with 38 percent neutral or unsure. By March 2021, 49 percent reported that New Zealanders were accepting of cultural and religious diversity, with 33 percent neutral or unsure.[20]


  • [17]https://www.publicservice.govt.nz/resources/trust-and-confidence-in-the-public-service-at-an-all-time-high/
  • [18]https://theconversation.com/trust-in-government-soars-in-australia-and-new-zealand-during-pandemic-154948
  • [19]https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2020/index/nzl#
  • [20]https://www.researchnz.com/assets/resources/CulturalDiversity.pdf
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