Social cohesion refers to the willingness of diverse individuals and groups to trust and cooperate with each other in the interests of all, supported by shared intercultural norms and values.
Te Tai Waiora highlights that people in New Zealand largely have a high degree of trust in each other. This engenders a spirit of reciprocity and supports a strong sense of community and civic engagement. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Better Life Index reports that 95 percent of New Zealanders believe they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, higher than the OECD average of 91 percent. New Zealanders have demonstrated a high level of civic engagement in recent elections – our voter turnout was 82 percent in the 2020 general election, also higher than the OECD average of 69 percent.
Recent surveys show that people in New Zealand have increased rates of trust in government in recent years. The 2022 Institute for Governance and Policy Studies Trust Survey reported that the percentage of people in New Zealand that have “high trust” in the government to do what is right for New Zealand rose from 48 percent in 2016 to a high of 74 percent in 2021 – although this has since fallen to 61 percent in 2022. The Kiwis Count survey also showed that as of March 2023, 84 percent of New Zealanders trust public services based on their personal experience, the highest result to date for this measure. However, levels of trust differ between ethnic groups and there are challenges in maintaining our high levels of social cohesion, such as disinformation.