The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (in Māori Te Tari Taiwhenua) is a state sector organisation whose roles include the issue of passports; administering citizenship grant applications, and lottery grant applications; enforcement of censorship and gambling law; registration of births, deaths,marriages and civil unions; providing daylight saving policy advise; and supplying support services to Ministers of the Crown.
Other services provided by the department include a translation service, publication of the New Zealand Gazette (the official newspaper of the Government of New Zealand), a flag hire service, management of VIP visits to New Zealand, running the Lake Taupo harbourmaster's office (under a special agreement with the local iwi) and the administration of offshore islands.
The Minister of Internal Affairs is the Hon. Rick Barker. Brendan Boyle is the Secretary of Internal Affairs. However, in total there are seven Ministers with responsibilities administered by the Department.
The Department traces its roots back to the Colonial Secretary's Office
, which from the time New Zealand became a British colony
, in 1840, was responsible for almost all central Government duties. Many of these responsibilities were lost as new departments and ministries were formed. The office's name was changed to the Department of Internal Affairs in 1907, and it became the home for government functions that were not large enough to justify a separate administrative structure and did not fit conveniently into another agency. This role continues to the present day, as new tasks have been taken on and others have been transferred elsewhere.
The Department of Internal Affairs encompasses several organisations. These include the Office of Ethnic Affairs
, which provides information to ethnic communities and policy advice to the government; the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management
, which manages the response to disasters
; and the Local Government Commission
, which makes decisions on the structure and representation requirements of local government
. The Department's present activities also include the implementation of recent dog control and local government legislation.