How many public sector roles are going, and from where?

The Beehive

Wellington’s public sector workforce will take a hit.
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Public servants’ jobs are on the chopping block as the sector scrambles to meet the Finance Minister’s cost-cutting targets. Find out how many jobs are going and where.

Finance Minister Nicola Willis has directed ministries and agencies to slash expenditure by either 6.5 percent or 7.5 percent to help reduce annual public service spending by $1.5 billion. But cuts are also being made beyond the core public sector, at Crown entities such as WorkSafe and Callaghan Innovation, and Crown research institute Niwa, for example.

And with many ministries yet to release their plans for the cuts, that number will only continue to grow. Minister for Regulation David Seymour previously indicated it could hit 7500.

Have you been affected by job cuts in the public sector? Contact us at [email protected].

Here’s what we know so far about job losses.

Ministry of Education (employs 4509 staff as of December 2023)

The Ministry of Education proposed to cut a total of 565 positions, including nearly 100 regional and frontline roles directly supporting schools.

Oranga Tamariki (employs 5100 staff)

Oranga Tamariki has confirmed it is proposing to cut 447 jobs at the ministry.

Its workforce would be reduced by 9 percent.

Department of Conservation (employs 2797 staff)

About 130 roles could go at the Department of Conservation, with a number already vacant.

Ministry for the Environment (employs 1068 staff)

The ministry has called for voluntary redundancies, and there could be forced redundancies, numbering potentially into the hundreds, according to the PSA.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (employs 6650 staff)

MBIE has confirmed 286 jobs were going, or had already gone, at the ministry. Some cuts happened early in the year, before Willis’ directives. Others happened during a round of voluntary redundancies in March.

Further reductions were under way in Te Whakatairanga Service Delivery and Digital, Data and Insights Group teams, subject to a consultation process, a spokesman told RNZ.

Ministry of Culture and Heritage (employs 165 staff)

The ministry is proposing to reduce staff numbers to 150. Some losses are from fixed term roles ending. The total reduction is 34 roles compared to mid-2023.

Commerce Commission (employs 428 staff)

The agency is proposing to cut about 10 percent of its workforce – between 35 to 40 roles, RNZ understands.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (employs 700 staff)

Up to 90 jobs were going at Niwa, according to the PSA, with 30 of them currently vacant. Niwa said the cuts would have no impact on its core work, according to the union.

Ministry of Health (employs 806 staff)

The ministry was proposing to cut 134 jobs in total – some of them already vacant.

A quarter of all positions would be disestablished (271), while 137 new positions were proposed.

Consultation was set to close on 26 April and a final decision made in June.

Ministry of Social Development (employs 9482 staff)

The Ministry of Social Development has called for voluntary redundancies in the service delivery, Māori communities and partnerships teams, as well as those in human resources, policy, strategy and communications. 

The PSA said the move could affect hundreds of workers. 

The Ministry of Social Development accepted on 23 April voluntary redundancy from 200 workers.

Ministry for Primary Industries (employs 3767 staff)

The ministry was proposing to cut around 231 staff.

Employees were informed by email that it wished to reduce staff numbers by an estimated 9 percent, including vacancies but also disestablishing roles.

In total, 384 roles would go, of which 40 percent were vacant.

Department of Internal Affairs (employs 2824 staff)

DIA has announced a first round of job cuts – with 28 jobs set to go at the National Library and its Māori Strategy and Performance team as part of cost cutting measures.

Meanwhile it has confirmed the vast majority of the more than 400 staff working on the previous government’s  national water reform will be gone by end of the month.


The Department of Internal Affairs said on 22 April that 59 roles are set to axed – of which 42 are vacant.  

The PSA said the cuts at DIA included workers from teams dealing with child exploitation, money laundering and counter terrorism.

Ministry for Pacific Peoples (employs 121 staff)

The ministry was set to lose close to half of its staff. The PSA said the ministry informed staff it was considering shedding 63 positions. That included 32 people currently employed and 31 vacant roles.

Ministry of Transport (employs 232 staff)

There has already been a net reduction of 24 roles across the organisation, most of which were vacant, said chief executive Audrey Sonerson.

The ministry made a number of staff redundant and got rid of vacancies it had been struggling to fill and did not intend to make further staffing changes at this stage, she said.

Stats NZ (employs 1491 staff) 

Stats NZ says there were 29 job losses in December 2023 as part of its change process.  

A product and services review began in February which could result in “further changes” to the organisational structure, it said.

The Treasury (employs 650 staff) 

Treasury has proposed axing 50 jobs by disestablishing roles, ending fixed term contracts and closing vacancies. 

Final numbers could not be confirmed until budget decisions in May. 

Customs (employs 1366 staff)

Thirty-three Customs staff have accepted voluntary redundancy or early retirement. The service was considering further options to meet the required savings, including reviewing existing vacancies, it said.

On 22 April Customs announced a further 78 roles were proposed to go at airports, and ports around the country.

Crown Law Office (employs 229 staff)

At Crown Law, 17 roles will be disestablished. Of those, nine were currently vacant – meaning eight people would lose their jobs, which was about 3.5 percent of its staff.

Crown Law said the new structure would be in place from 1 July.

Ministry for Ethnic Communities (employs 77 staff)

The ministry has begun consultations about reducing the number of permanent staff by 14 percent and its work out of regional government offices in Hamilton, New Plymouth, Napier, and Dunedin.

The PSA told RNZ it was not clear how many jobs would be lost, but it could be around nine – with 32 roles to be disestablished and replaced with 23 new ones.

Callaghan Innovation (employs 382 staff)

On 8 April, Callaghan Innovation said about 30 FTE science and engineering jobs in its Innovation Expertise Hapū were being consulted on.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded research organisation said it had not been asked to make a specific percentage of savings, but its board had directed a refocus on its original purpose, which was to support industry-led science and technology-based innovation – and its commercialisation.

The agency employed 382 full time staff, meaning the proposed changes could affect just under 8 percent of its workforce. A final decision could be expected in May or June.

WorkSafe (employed 644 as of December 2023)  

WorkSafe announced in November last year 113 jobs were going. It said there have been no reductions in inspector or investigator roles.

Tertiary Education Commission (employs 363 staff as of 30 June 2023)

The commission is cutting 28 roles, with the PSA saying they are mainly held by women. 

The Public Service Association says of the 28 roles, which include administration and clerical positions, nine are vacant.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (employs 651 staff)

On 17 April, NZTE said it had not yet received a formal notification of any additional cost reduction requirement, however it knew it would be required to play its part in meeting the government’s cost reduction in the public service and would take appropriate action when notified.

Land Information New Zealand

Land Information New Zealand has proposed to make a net reduction of 57 jobs too meet the government’s demands to cut costs.

A spokesperson said it has disestablished 53 vacancies, including leadership roles, and is currently consulting with staff over cutting another five jobs.

The department said since October last year it has reduced the use of contractors and consultants and halved discretionary spending such as travel, training and catering.

It has not called for voluntary redundancies. 

* RNZ’s job loss numbers are based on statements from the ministries and the PSA. Total staff numbers are based on Public Service Commission figures from December 31, 2023 or more recent ones provided by agencies.

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