Milestones and Achievements in digital transformation: GCIO Stakeholder event Parliament Buildings

  • Peter Dunne
Internal Affairs

Kia ora and good evening everyone.

Welcome to all of you to celebrate the achievement of some significant milestones in Government’s digital journey, which you have all had a part in delivering over the past five years.

Through the Better Public Services Programme and Functional Leadership, Ministers set some ambitious goals.

I am delighted to see how far we have come – in the way we use technology, in the services provided to our citizens and the way we are working collaboratively across Government.

It has been our ambition, through Better Public Services, to make it easier for customers to connect with Government digitally. 

So we put out a challenge for government agencies to re-imagine the way they deliver services.

How can Government keep up with people’s expectations of public service delivery in today’s world – digital, responsive and personalised?

To up the ante, we set a very clear and ambitious target back in 2012, which we are on track to achieve.

And we have already set the next ambitious target.

But it is not really about the numbers.

The improvement in the experience has been noticeable.

You can now do so much online – pay for a vehicle licence fee or fine, pay your taxes, apply for a New Zealand visa and book a DOC hut, to name just a few.

I love using SmartGate when I travel – it makes things easier for me.

And that is what it is all about – making it easier for our citizens to do what they need to do.

There is the added bonus of the hours saved and boost to productivity that going digital has delivered!

I do not think anybody is clamouring to bring back the days when people had to complete paper forms and queue to complete these tasks.

Service Innovation Lab

This morning I had the pleasure of visiting the Service Innovation Lab, one of the initiatives to deliver Result 10 and improve citizens’ digital interaction with Government.

The experimental lab aims to develop new ways for agencies to work together more effectively.

It provides teams working on cross-agency initiatives with access to tools and coaching, and explores what a cross-branch, cross-agency and cross-disciplinary approach to service innovation can achieve.

The lab is an innovation incubator, designed to stimulate thinking outside agency silos to deliver the best outcomes for New Zealanders – public services which are designed around people, when they need them.

Online passports

Approximately 855,000 passport applications have been submitted online since this service was launched in 2012 – when a number of the most common government transactions were not even available digitally.

Over half of all adult passports are now renewed online. We are still the only country in the world with an end-to-end online passport application process.

Countries such as the UK and the US still require applicants to print and sign their passport application before it is physically submitted. 

But here, passport applicants with a RealMe verified account can complete and submit their passport application online – wherever they may be.

No queueing at the local passport or post office if you are a New Zealander!


We can now access 90 services from 32 government agencies and businesses through RealMe. Using the RealMe identity verification service means you can prove your identity with a further 12 services.

While it took two and a half years for RealMe to garner its first 200,000 verified users, it only took a further seven months for it to reach the 300,000 milestone – proof that there is a strong appetite for any digital offering.

People are now using their secure, trusted and verified RealMe online identities up to 24,000 times per month during peak periods.


SmartStart, our first foray in delivering integrated digital services, gives new and expectant parents easy access to Government services and support anytime, anywhere.

Since its launch in December 2016, it’s already clocked in around 85,000 visitors and logged more than 5000 due dates in its first six months.

SmartStart is only the first life events-based service.

Agencies are working together behind the scenes to deliver other integrated services, coming to a smart device near you soon.

A system-wide approach

These significant achievements are the result of us taking a system-wide approach that involved Ministers, the Government Chief Information Officer, agencies and private sector partners.

And at the heart of this approach is good, solid collaboration and a genuine desire to make a difference for New Zealanders.

So congratulations to everyone here tonight for making these achievements a reality, and to the GCIO, Colin MacDonald, for your leadership in steering the Government’s digital transformation.

What I have cited are just a few examples of achievements over the last few years.

Colin will be sharing more of these successes later.

But despite all these, most people are not aware that New Zealand is punching above its weight globally in terms digital government.

Our natural modesty sometimes means keeping quiet when we have done a good job. I believe we deserve to pat ourselves on the back for what we have achieved so far and for the journey we are on. 

New Zealand is, in fact, acknowledged as a digital government world leader.

We are a founding member of the elite Digital 5 group of the most digitally advanced nations alongside the United Kingdom, Israel, Estonia and South Korea. 

D5 countries have a record of excellence in digital government, designing services around users’ needs and sharing open source solutions with other nations.

As the current chair of D5, we will be hosting our partner nations at the next D5 summit in New Zealand in February 2018. This is an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our achievements in digital government that support a thriving, vibrant digital nation.

We are also the chair of the OECD E-Leaders Working Party until 2018, where we work with like-minded governments to progress digital transformation in the public sector. Other governments are keen to learn from our successes.

This year, DIA has already hosted officials from Chile, Estonia, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Tonga and the UK, who have come all the way to this part of the world, keen to find out more about what we are doing.

Officials have also been invited to speak in Australia, Canada, the United States and Singapore to share our successes and learn from them.

Researchers from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, which publishes the Digital Evolution Index, recently visited New Zealand to find out more about our approach.

They have considered us a standout nation for a few years now, and will be developing a case study on New Zealand’s digital journey.

Being singled out as an example is something we are seeing more of as we embark on our journey – a testament to the great work happening in this little corner of the globe.

But we need to be more vocal in telling our fellow New Zealanders about our success, and the fact online government services in this country are at the top of the world. We need you to help us tell our collective success in the digital space.

What’s next

We have achieved great things over the last few years, but now is not the time to be complacent. If anything, this raises the bar for us to build on what is the new normal – constant change and evolution. 

New Zealanders want services that meet their expectations and are delivered how, when and where it suits them. And Government needs to continue adapting and innovating to keep up, and in some cases be a step ahead of this public demand.

Intuitive, integrated online services based on life events are just the start. Digital is making us think really hard about Government’s role on how best to provide services and achieve the best outcomes.

And Government cannot do this alone.

We need to continue working together and in partnership with the private sector and other agencies to continue making a tangible difference to the lives of New Zealanders.

So let us celebrate our successes tonight, and keep our eyes fixed on a better, more connected future for New Zealand.

Thank you.