Research Projects

Civics NZ


Building the social capital of New Zealand citizens

CivicsNZ began in 2010 with the publication of Report 8: Effective Maori Representation in Parliament – Working towards a National Sustainable Development Strategy (July 2010). It was also a response to the Government’s constitutional review, undertaken by the Constitutional Advisory Panel (CAP) in 2012 and 2013.

The lack of good civics education in New Zealand has been a constant theme voiced by participants of our workshops. Good civics education should showcase the machinery of government, empowering citizens through a shared understanding of our common rights and responsibilities.

In November 2013 the Constitutional Advisory Panel recommended that ‘the Government develops a national strategy for civics and citizenship education in schools and in the community, including the unique role of the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and assign responsibility for the implementation of the strategy’. The 2013 report provided a sound basis for making progress on civics education in New Zealand.

OIA to NZ On Air

The Institute has been following the Public Interest Journalism Fund with interest. This has led to an OIA being sent to NZ On Air on 23 December 2021. See OIA 2021/16: Public interest journalism and COVID-19 on our OIA table.

Latest publication

Working Paper 2023/03 – Appearances of the Treaty/te Tiriti in New Zealand Legislation

Visit Working papers

This research aims to contribute to a broader analysis of the strength of democracy in Aotearoa New Zealand. This paper draws a basic picture of the appearance of the Treaty of Waitangi/te Tiriti o Waitangi in New Zealand legislation. Through high-level term searching, this research assesses the various appearances of the terms ‘Treaty of Waitangi’ and ‘Tiriti o Waitangi’ in Acts that do not directly concern Treaty settlements, and classifies these by degree and nature of inclusion. Finally, some observations about these appearances are made.

Past event

Political stability despite minority governments: the New Zealand experience

On 14 July 2021 Wendy McGuinness, Chief Executive of the McGuinness Institute, presented Political stability despite minority governments: the NZ experience.

This presentation was part of the SDG Webinar Series, hosted by Jeffrey Sachs Center for Sustainable Development from Sunway University, Malaysia.

Past initiatives

On the Fence

The Institute was a supporter of On the Fence, an online platform that matched users’ personal values with parties and candidates and was targeted at first time or disengaged voters. On the Fence was developed by the Massey University-led project Design+Democracy which aims to encourage engagement with social issues through user-centred design.


The initiative #GummonMateVote – ‘It’s just two ticks’ aimed to increase voter engagement specifically among Pasifika youth. The idea was to provide T-shirts to young Pasifika people who would then record a video and post it on social media to promote voting engagement. See some of the videos or learn more about the initiative on our blog. The photo below is of a vocal group from Auckland promoting the initiative.

Assorted publications

See a selection of our latest research and publications related to CivicsNZ below.

Discussion Paper 2023/03 – National and International Comparisons of Codes of Conduct for Members of Parliament

​Discussion Paper 2023/01 – BIG Ideas: Brief to the Incoming Government (B.I.G.)

​Prime Minister’s summer reading list 2023/24

Submission – Document 1: Summary and Q&A – Submission to NZX on: (i) Exposure Draft: NZX Corporate Governance Code Review – 2nd Consultation (ii) Exposure Draft: NZX ESG Guidance Note – Initial Consultation