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Transparency International New Zealand
29 January 2019
Patron, Lyn Provost

New Zealand has one of the least corrupt public sectors in the world

New Zealand has again been ranked as having one of the least corrupt public sectors and judiciaries in the World.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (TI-CPI) released today by Berlin based Transparency International has New Zealand dropping its score to come second after Denmark, whose overall score stayed the same.

Since the inception of the TI-CPI in 1995, New Zealand has vied for first place with the Scandinavian countries. For the 2017 TI-CPI, Denmark came second to New Zealand.

New Zealand’s drop in ranking is primarily due to poorer results from the survey conducted by one of the 13 sources of the TI-CPI, the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey.

Because of the closeness of the TI-CPI values amongst the top-ranked group of countries, it is unclear if this change for New Zealand is a one-time deviation or a warning from executives of emerging concerns here.

The Chair of Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ), Suzanne Snively, said “Our public sector ranks very highly internationally, but we must resist complacency. We have a lot to lose if this fall were to continue, which would reflect a belief that there was a decline in the integrity of public administration in New Zealand. Our public sector, of which we should be very proud, has been ranked in the top five for the whole 25 years of the TI-CPI.”

In contrast, the ranking of two of our major trading partners, China and the United States, has fallen to new lows.

“We know corruption exists in New Zealand, as exemplified by the recent case of bribery at Auckland Transport which saw two senior executives sent to prison last year. The recent NZTA case of bribes for driver’s licences is another example. These cases illustrate the nature of corruption and the need for strong integrity systems to identify and manage the risk of it,” says Snively.

The prevention of corruption is too often a low priority – partly because of the perception that we don’t have a problem. On closer inspection, the lack of prevention has resulted in high costs, particularly in the business sector, with evidence of money laundering and major fraud investigations from the Serious Fraud Office. It reported successful prosecutions for $188 million of alleged fraud during the 2017/18 year.

To maintain world leadership, New Zealand needs to:

  • Take a stronger approach towards corrupt business practices, transparency of corporate and trust ownership, and protection of whistleblowers
  • Hold our business and non-profit sectors to the same high standards
  • Set the “tone at the top” by extending the Official Information Act, introducing a code of conduct for Parliament and increased transparency around lobbying
  • Be open about incidents that involve corruption, immediately when they are discovered.

Lyn Provost, Patron of Transparency International New Zealand, said “the international perception of New Zealand as an open country free from corruption is a key driver of New Zealand’s reputation as a good place to do business and a safe place to travel. This reputation is hugely valuable to NZ Inc. We must be vigilant in maintaining that reputation”.

Rebecca Smith, Director of the New Zealand Story notes that New Zealand ranks fifth in the Reputation Institute’s 2018 Country Reputation study.

Smith says “Being seen as an ethical country with high transparency and low corruption is an important factor in driving favourability and consideration for New Zealand globally. It is encouraging to once again see New Zealand at the top of the Corruption Perceptions Index.”

Compiled annually by Berlin-based Transparency International, the TI-CPI ranks countries worldwide by perceived levels of public sector corruption using 13 international data sources and risk assessments, 8 which are applied to calculate New Zealand’s score. It does not measure corruption in the non-profit or business sectors.

Background information for journalists

  1. Media Contacts

    Julie Haggie

    Chief Executive Officer

    Transparency International New Zealand

    02 74 989 126


    Suzanne Snively


    Transparency International New Zealand

    64 21 925 689


  2. Links

    A report by Transparency International New Zealand with Questions and Answers and analysis relevant to New Zealand is available on our website at: Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 – New Zealand Information or as a .pdf file.

    A copy of this media release is available at TINZ_CPI_2018_Media_Release.pdf

    Detailed information about the Corruption Perceptions Index is also available at http://www.transparency.org/cpi

  3. Benefit of strong integrity systems

    TINZ has identified seven important benefits for the New Zealand economy based on having strong integrity systems. These include:

    • a positive reputation and brand
    • greater customer loyalty
    • committed and engaged staff
    • easier market access
    • lower cost of business
    • increased returns on investments
    • improved access to capital.
  4. About Transparency International

    Transparency International is a global civil society coalition based in Berlin, leading the fight against corruption. It compiles a number of measures of different aspects of corruption including the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Global Corruption Barometer, and the Bribe Payers Index. Information on Transparency International can be found at www.transparency.org.

  5. About the Corruption Perceptions Index (TI-CPI)

    The TI-CPI scored and ranked 180 countries/territories in 2017 based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be. It is a composite index, a combination of surveys and assessments of corruption, collected by a variety of reputable institutions. The TI-CPI is the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide.

    TI-CPI key measures used for New Zealand (and abbreviations)

    • Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Indicators – BF SGI
    • Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Ratings – EIU CRR
    • Global Insight Country Risk Ratings – GI CRR
    • IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2016 – IMD WCY
    • Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide – PRS ICRG
    • World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey – WEF EOS
    • World Justice Project Rule of Law Index – WJP RLI
    • Varieties of Democracy Project – V-Dem

    Top performers share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor, independent from other parts of government.

  6. About the New Zealand chapter of Transparency International

    The local chapter of Transparency International works to actively promote the highest levels of transparency, accountability, integrity and public participation in government and civil society in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. 

    Transparency International New Zealand provides a free Anti-Corruption Training Tool (transparency.org.nz/Anti-Corruption-Training) designed by leading experts in the field, and enables organisations to provide training for their personnel. This was developed in partnership with the Serious Fraud Office and BusinessNZ

    Transparency International New Zealand published the Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment and is actively engaged in activities leading to the implementation of its recommendations.  A second edition is due out this year.

  7. About the World Economic Forum – Executive Opinion Survey / Global Competitiveness Report.

    The World Economic Forum has conducted it’s Executive Opinion Survey for over 30 years and produces The Global Competitiveness Report.

    For the TI-CPI calculations Transparency International uses disaggregated micro level data from the EOS provided to them by the Forum.  The 2018 WEF survey results were based on surveys of 66 business executives surveyed between January and April 2018.

    The survey questions that are the basis for the TI-CPI calculations are  “In your country, how common is it for firms to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with the following: a) Imports and exports, b) Public utilities, c) Annual tax payments, d) Awarding of public contracts and licenses, and e) Obtaining favourable judicial decisions” and “In your country, how common is diversion of public funds to companies, individuals or groups due to corruption?”

    For 2018, New Zealand was ranked 11th in the WEF survey after being in the top 3 for the previous for years.

  8. TI-CPI World Map with Country Rankings


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