As an agency representative

The protocols that apply when you are acting as an official representative of your agency are the same whether you are talking to the media, speaking at a conference or using social media. Good practice is to disclose your position and that you are representing your agency. You should only disclose information, make commitments or engage in activities when you are authorised to do so. You should remember that your comments will often be permanently available and able to be reproduced in other media.

In a private capacity

State servants have the same rights of free speech as other New Zealanders, but with some additional obligations. Regardless of the media being used, you must not do anything which could harm the reputation of your agency or the State services, and you must not disclose any agency material that you are not specifically authorised to disclose. Where there may be uncertainty about the capacity in which you are acting, you should make it clear to others that your contribution is as a private individual and not as a representative of your agency. You should ensure that any comment you make on matters of government policy is appropriate to the agency role you hold, and you must respect the need to maintain politically neutral State services.

Further discussion

More detailed discussion can be found in Understanding the code of conduct - Guidance for State servants on our website.

Of particular relevance is the section under the heading "Trustworthy" called "We must avoid any activities, work or non-work, that may harm the reputation of our organisation or of the State Services".

The sections under the heading "Impartial" called "We must maintain the political neutrality required to enable us to work with current and future governments" and "We must respect the authority of the government of the day" are also relevant.

Political Neutrality is also discussed further in the guidance What is 'political neutrality' and what does it mean in practice? which can be found on our website.

If you wish to clarify any part of this guidance please contact the State Services Commission on (04) 495 6600 or by emailing us at

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