Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced the members of an expert group to advise the Government on its promised overhaul of the welfare system, including the sanctions regime.

Former Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro will lead the group, which also includes economist Ganesh Nana.

"The Welfare Expert Advisory Group has been asked to undertake a broad-ranging review of the welfare system. It will deliver advice to the Government on ways to ensure people have an adequate income and standard of living, are treated with respect, can live in dignity, and are able to participate meaningfully in their communities," Sepuloni said.

"Areas that the Welfare Expert Advisory Group has been asked to focus on range from considering the overall purpose of the system, through to specific recommendations on the current obligations and sanctions regime.


"The welfare system touches the lives of New Zealanders from all walks of life. I am pleased that the Welfare Expert Advisory Group members themselves come from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience, including but not limited to Māori, Pacific, disabled, and young people.

"Every member will bring their own unique skills and expertise – including experience of advocacy in the welfare system, economics, health, business and research and analysis. It's also important to me that the group includes members with lived experience of the welfare system."

The overhaul of the welfare system is part of the Coalition Government's confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.

Under-Secretary Jan Logie said the Greens welcomed the establishment of the group.

"This Government knows there are immediate changes we need to make to our welfare system, which we are working on. But we also need to take a long-term view and ensure the whole system is working effectively and compassionately."

The Public Service Association said frontline Work and Income staff should be asked for their perspectives in the review.

"They will have their own perspectives on where the stresses are in the system and how they can be remedied," PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay said.

"We are proposing mechanisms by which employees can feed their knowledge and concerns to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, not just in the form of submissions but throughout the process."


The expert group will report back to the Government with its recommendations in February 2019.

The members:
Professor Cindy Kiro (chairwoman) - responsible for Māori/indigenous education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland

Professor Innes Asher – paediatrician and health spokeswoman for the Child Poverty Action Group

Kay Brereton – Welfare advocate and co-convenor of the National Beneficiary Advocates Consultative Group

Dr Huhana Hickey – Member of the NZ Human Rights Review Tribunal and chairwoman of the Auckland Council Disability Strategic Advisory Panel

Professor Tracey McIntosh - head of department for Sociology at the University of Auckland


Dr Ganesh Nana - Chief economist at BERL

Phil O'Reilly – Former chief executive of BusinessNZ and current managing director at Iron Duke Partners

Robert Reid – President of First Union

Trevor McGlinchey - Executive officer of New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services

Latayvia Tualasea Tautai - Young Pacific leader from Auckland and university student

Charles Waldegrave - Founder of the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit 1991 and co-lead of the New Zealand Poverty Measurement Project