The Official Information Act 1982 makes official information more freely available. Its purpose is to increase the availability of official information to the people of NZ to enable their more effective participation in 'the making and administration of laws and policies'; to promote the accountability of Ministers of the Crown and officials so as to enhance good government; to provide for proper access by each person to official information about that person; and to protect official information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the preservation of personal privacy.
The main principle governing release of official information is that 'information shall be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it'. The Act defines the grounds on which information can be withheld. The Act applies to information held by departments of the Public Service and certain other agencies of the State. With the enactment of the Privacy Act 1993, requests made by or on behalf of a natural person for access to information about that person fall within the provisions of the Privacy Act. The Ombudsman has the power to review certain decisions made by departments or agencies under the Official Information Act.