Public Sector Reputation 2019

For the fourth year running Fire and Emergency New Zealand tops the Colmar Brunton Public Sector Reputation Index. Tourism New Zealand and Maritime New Zealand both jumped three and six spots respectively from 2018, to come in at second and third place.

The Index benchmarked 50 national public sector organisations against the four pillars which contribute to reputation – leadership and success, fairness, social responsibility, and trust. Each entity’s reputation was indexed against the others.

Colmar Brunton Group Account Director Grant Bell says reputation is particularly important for the public sector because government departments and agencies are ultimately answerable to New Zealanders.

“Around the world, the prevailing narrative has been that trust in government and other key public institutions is in decline. We continue to see evidence which counters the global trend. The public sector agencies we measure continue to improve each year on the core elements of ‘trust’, namely listening, using taxpayer money responsibly, protecting personal information and being trustworthy.”

Wellbeing focus

The results released today highlight a clear opportunity for agencies to better communicate their wellbeing credentials.

With wellbeing at the top of the Government’s agenda, Colmar Brunton has explored this further as part of the Public Sector Reputation Index survey and found public sector agencies need to tell their wellbeing stories – about their impact on mental and physical wellbeing, their contribution to society and how they protect the environment.

Fire and Emergency NZ, NZ Police, Sport NZ, NZ Defence Force, Department of Conservation, and Ministry of Health are the only six agencies viewed by 50% or more of New Zealanders as positively impacting wellbeing. For each of the other 44 agencies, more than half of the population are not sure how they contribute to wellbeing.

Bell said with the Government’s ‘wellbeing’ budget released recently, it’s timely to explore what the different public sector agencies are doing in this space.

“The top six agencies have an obvious impact on many New Zealanders’ lives but also have a clear story around their contribution to wellbeing. For example, NZ Police have embraced social media as part of their strategy to have a more personal connection with Kiwis. Also, Sport NZ released their high-profile Women and Girls Sport and Active Recreation strategy late last year, focusing on participation for all New Zealanders.”

Source of reputation

Colmar Brunton’s Public Sector Reputation research also takes a closer look at the source of reputation. The results showed the news media has the biggest influence on perceptions of agencies.

“We found 40% of people say news media is the main influence on their opinions for each public sector agency. This is followed by direct experience, which is important as both positive and negative experiences are memorable and easily shared.”

Bell also said conversation, whether it be on social media or in person, plays a supporting role in telling each agency’s story.

Direct experience

New Zealanders who have had personal contact with a government agency in the last five years are more likely to have had a positive personal experience than a negative one. However, it is the negative experiences that have much more impact on reputation and they can continue to influence perceptions for at least 10 years.

“The best way for agencies to improve is to focus on delivering a better experience across the organisation as this will do more for the agency’s relationship with New Zealanders as well as their reputation.”

Click HERE for the full report.

Public Sector Reputation 2019 Top 10

2019 Ranking2018 RankingRanking difference 2018 vs 2019
Fire and Emergency110
Tourism NZ25+3
Maritime NZ39+6
Callaghan Innovation4N/AN/A
Dept of Conservation53-2
Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management6N/AN/A
NZ Police78+1
NZ Customs Service94-5
NZ Defence Force106-4


The Colmar Public Sector Reputation Index measures the public reputations of 50 New Zealand public sector agencies based on 2750 online interviews with a nationally representative sample by age, gender, region, ethnicity and income conducted between 9 April and 8 May 2019.

The index uses the global RepZ framework, created by Colmar Brunton’s global parent company Kantar, with standardised reputation attributes of trust, social responsibility, leadership and fairness.



Group Account Director