A new Public Service Department
It’s not every day I get to welcome an agency into the Public Service, but today I am pleased to welcome the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) as a fully-fledged Public Service Department.
The work of the NZSIS is crucial to keeping us all safe from terrorism and security threats and protecting our country’s national interests.
In 1956, the NZSIS took over the national security functions previously carried out by the NZ Police Special Branch. The agency operated without specific intelligence and security legislation until the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act was passed in 1969. At that time, to protect the security of information and staff, the NZSIS was not included in the legislation other government departments followed. The shift today fixes this anomaly.
The NZSIS moving into the core Public Service is one aspect of a wider programme under the Intelligence and Security Act 2017. This replaces the four separate Acts governing New Zealand’s security and intelligence agencies and their oversight. The new Act governs the work of both the NZSIS and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and makes the law easier to understand and access. Other changes strengthen the oversight of intelligence, and enables both agencies to work more closely together.
The NZSIS has significant responsibility for protecting our national interests and keeping us all safe. The staff who work there often can’t discuss the details of what they do, and the reality of their work means most of them need to keep their roles confidential. I have visited the NZSIS, met with staff and I understand their work. And what I do know is that they are absolutely committed to the safety and security of all of us and are focussed on serving and protecting New Zealanders. This is a demonstration of the spirit of service that underpins all our work in the Public Service in action, every day.