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Engaging with Parliament and Government

Parliament represents the people of Aotearoa, so if you feel passionately about any issues, there are ways to get your views heard. There are several major ways that you can do this directly, and you can do most of these for no cost.

Remember that our democracy works better if we all contribute, so don’t worry if you haven’t done any of these before.

Contacting an MP

Members of Parliament are elected to represent us, so talking to people is a part of their job. Any member of the public can contact them to express an opinion or raise an issue.

For local issues, try contacting your local electorate MP. For bigger issues, contact an MP who holds the right portfolio, e.g. education, housing, child poverty or climate change. The list of MPs on the Parliament website lets you filter members by their portfolio.

MPs can usually be reached by regular mail, online, or through their office. Most MPs want to hear from the public, especially young people, so it’s worth contacting them. Learn more about contacting MPs on the Parliament website.

Submitting to a Select Committee

If Parliament needs information and recommendations on proposed new laws and other topics, they can ask a select committee to do this. The public can make a ‘submission’ to a Select Committee to give their view on the topic being considered. This is a chance to talk directly to Parliament.

You can make a submission by post, online, via video conference, or in person. Check out the Parliament website for a list of what’s currently open for submissions.

You can also view all the current Select Committee topics on the Parliament website

Starting or signing a petition

Petitions are written requests that ask Parliament or the Government for action on an issue or cause. Successful petitions are usually signed by a large number of people.

Visit the petitions page on the Parliament website to create a petition or to sign something that’s already there. You can also start or sign a petition on an online platform like

Petitions do work, and if done correctly, Parliament is obliged to pay attention. The Women’s Suffrage Petition that led to women getting the vote in Aotearoa is one famous example.

Video transcript available for Women's Suffrage Petition Open Close
Women's Suffrage Petition

See the places across New Zealand that sheets of the Women's Suffrage Petition were sent to gather signatures. The sheets were then sent back to Kate Sheppard in Christchurch. The Women's Suffrage Petition led to a law change allowing women the right to vote in 1893.

This animation is from the map table at the He Tohu exhibition.

The map table is a 3D canvas that stories are projected onto from above. Find out more at

Complaining about a Government agency

Government agencies are responsible for specific areas in our country. You can find a list of government agencies on the Public Service Commission website.

There are a few different ways to make a complaint. You can try to resolve the issue with the government agency directly, go to the Ombudsman, go to an organisation like the Human Right Commission, or even take your case to the High Courts for a judicial review.

Contacting the Ombudsman

Anyone can complain to the Chief Ombudsman about an act or decision of a government agency and it’s free. The Ombudsman is also a good first point of contact if you’re unsure if you’re being treated fairly by a government agency. The Ombudsman is an independent Officer of Parliament and not part of the government.

You can make a complaint by:

All complaints are private and the Ombudsman takes an oath to keep confidential all the information they become aware of in their work. Check out the range of things they do on the Ombudsman website.

Video transcript available for What the Ombudsman can do Open Close
What the Ombudsman can do

The Ombudsman helps people deal with central and local government in New Zealand. We handle complaints about government agencies, seek resolution, and carry out investigations and inspections.

We give feedback and guidance to agencies to help them improve, and initiate wider investigations where we see the need. The Ombudsman is independent from both government and the public.

We have five main jobs:

One: Fair treatment by government agencies. If you think you've been treated badly by a government agency and you aren't happy with their response to your complaint we might be able to help you

Two: Official Information requests. You can ask for information from a government agency or a minister. If you're unhappy with the response to your information requests you can complain to us.

Three: Listening to reports of serious wrongdoing. If you think someone at your workplace at a public or private organization has done something very wrong you can talk to us. This is called whistleblowing or making a protected disclosure.

Four: Monitoring places of detention. We monitor places of detentions such as prisons and mental health facilities to make sure they're looking after people in the right way.

Five: Making sure disabled people are treated fairly. We make sure the government is making the rights and the disability convention real for disabled people.

You can find more information here on our website

Making information requests

Official Information Act (OIA) requests can be made by anyone in Aotearoa to access information held by Government organisations and ministers. The process allows people to participate in government and helps hold governments and government agencies to account.

Information requests can be submitted in any format, and you don’t even have to explicitly call something an OIA. You’ll usually have to submit requests to specific agencies, but a good place to start is the website

After your submission is reviewed by the relevant government department, they have to respond to you as soon as they can, usually within 20 working days. Sometimes they may decline to provide information, but there will be reasons given for this. You can also find more details about OIA submissions on the Ombudsman website.

Other ways to get involved

If you feel passionate about specific issues or ideas, there many other ways to get involved.