The Government has praised a drop in crime as a step towards achieving ambitious new public sector targets, but the Opposition says it is claiming credit for a trend that has been developing for two decades.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said the 6 per cent drop in crime in the year to June was a sign that her sector was on the way to meeting its Better Public Service targets.
The justice sector was aiming for a 15 per cent drop in crime by 2017, a 20 per cent drop in violent crime, a 5 per cent drop in youth crime and a 25 per cent drop in reoffending in the next five years.
Between June 2011 and June 2012, violent crime fell by 7 per cent, youth crime by 4 per cent and reoffending by 6 per cent.
Homicide and serious assaults significantly decreased.
Mrs Collins: "These types of crime are at the worst end of violent offending. New Zealanders deserve to be safe from all crime, but these categories need an especially strong focus because of their seriousness and the terrible impact they have on victims."
She credited the results to a "tough on criminals" policy, strong support for victims, and co-ordinated work across government agencies.
Labour Party justice spokesman Charles Chauvel said he applauded the drop in violent crime.
But he argued that the latest results followed a trend of fewer violent incidents which began in the 1990s.
New Zealand Police statistics released in September showed that the total rate of crime had been falling at a steady rate since 1995.
Mr Chauvel said the gains were also meaningless if "stubborn" recidivism rates were not improved.
The Corrections Department annual report released last month showed 27 per cent of released prisoners had returned to jail and 43.3 per cent had been reconvicted - a fractional improvement on the previous year.
Corrections has reprioritised funding into drug and alcohol treatment, education and community support for offenders in an attempt to meet the target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017.
Mr Chauvel said it would be difficult to sustain the crime results if working conditions for front-line police continued. Police agreed earlier this year to 1 per cent pay rises, effectively meaning they faced a pay cut because this increase was smaller than the projected rate of inflation.
Mrs Collins admitted that sustaining the results would become more difficult each year.
The Better Public Services targets were part of a Government push for a more efficient, streamlined public sector.
Crime rates 2011-12:
* total reported crime down 6 per cent (target 15 per cent by 2017)
* violent crime down 7 per cent (target 20 per cent by 2017)
* youth crime down 4 per cent (target 5 per cent by 2017)
* re-offending down 6 per cent (target 25 per cent by 2017)