The Transparency International (TI) global movement began over 25 years ago. Through advocacy, campaigning and research, our movement has exposed countless systems and networks that enable global corruption to thrive. Transparency International has been unrelenting in demanding greater transparency and integrity in all areas of public life and private business.
From the mid-1990s TI was represented in NZ by a national contact person at the University of Canterbury, Dr. Peter Perry. The New Zealand chapter was formally established in 1999, under the chairmanship of Senior Accountant Michael Morris, and supported by volunteer executive officers.
The initial focus of Transparency International New Zealand’s chapter was to have the New Zealand Government ratify the OECD anti-bribery convention. Opposition to the convention from NZ’s largest exporter, Fonterra, resulted in the Crimes Act amendment being watered down at the Select Committee stage through the removal of extra-territorial effect. Lobbying by TINZ saw the original drafting restored. TINZ has subsequently coordinated regular assessments of the government’s record in implementing the Convention.
Now, Transparency International New Zealand contributes to global monitoring tools, such as the Anti-Corruption Pledge Tracker, the Global Defence Anti-corruption Index and the Exporting Corruption Report. Many of the recommendations to improve the integrity of our national systems have been implemented. We have had positive influences on policy and practice through our monitoring activities, our submissions, advocacy and programmes. Our years of advocacy for a Code of Conduct for parliament have been successful, with a Code of Conduct now in place. We also advocated for greater transparency of the lobbying of parliamentarians: Ministerial diaries are now published.
We have put forward evidenced arguments for stronger legal protection and better organisational culture to support people to speak up about wrongdoing. An amended law is now with Parliament. We advocated for a refocusing of the public service to be more accountable and transparent. These values form part of the Public Service Act 2020.
We are also innovative, developing the world’s first Financial Integrity System Assessment.
We are non-partisan, non-sectarian, and objective. In our conduct, we are guided by the principles of the Human Rights Act and the Treaty of Waitangi. In our statements and publications, all positions taken by Transparency International New Zealand are based on sound, objective, professional analysis and high standards of research.
Until the early nineties, many companies regularly wrote off bribes as business expenses in their tax filings, and many international agencies were resigned to the fact that corruption would sap funding from many development projects around the world. There was no global convention aimed at curbing corruption, and no way to measure corruption or its impact at the global scale.
Transparency International was established in 1993 with a Secretariat in Berlin, positioned to change attitudes towards corruption, bribery and organised crime within governments and businesses.
The New Zealand chapter was formed a few years later in 1999. and it became an incorporated society and charity in 2001.
Global successes include the creation of international anti-corruption conventions (such as UNCAC); the reporting of corruption through Legal Advice Centres around the world, the agreement of companies to stop corrupt practices as a result of being involved in programmes that TI runs, improvement in electoral fairness as a result of TI campaigns in specific countries, and improvement in national laws, regulations and policy as a result of TI reports, analysis and programmes.