Rotorua Ministry of Social Development offices are next in line for a design overhaul which is part of a wider push for cultural change in the ministry.

Social development minister Carmel Sepuloni was in Rotorua this week visiting the MSD office and the offices of other social services.

The Rotorua office will be the second in the country to be upgraded at a cost of about $20,000. The changes should be finished in August.

Sepuloni told the Rotorua Daily Post the physical changes would include changes to the carpet, colour scheme, front area and the introduction of a children's area.


"All of these changes sound straightforward but everything from the carpet to the colour scheme to any disability considerations have all been considered in co-design," Sepuloni said.

The changes, as well as a new commitment to clients, have been developed with help from a group representing Māori, disabled, elderly and other beneficiaries.

Sepuloni said a large number of those had been from Rotorua and helped inform the work.

The minister said the physical changes were part of a wider cultural change within the Ministry of Social Development and Work and Income New Zealand.

"There's a misconception of who accesses support from Work and Income New Zealand.

"The vast majority of New Zealanders are going to need to access support at some point in time and every New Zealander deserves to be treated with respect and have dignity upheld," she said.

"Part of that is making sure the environment is warm, welcoming and positive and that's what I've been focused on."

Sepuloni said the part of the reason she was visiting Rotorua was because of the planned changes to the office here, but also because she could only learn so much about situations from Wellington.


"Also, this is a wonderful city, but it does have some challenges with regards to the level of homelessness.

"I get feedback about hardship in some pockets of the community. It was important for me to come here to check in and find out what is happening on the ground and how I can help."

Many MSD staff had already undergone training around the culture change and Sepuloni said they had been receptive to that.

"It's also about creating a positive working environment," she said.

"The vast majority of staff work really well with clients, but we know there are cases where people walk away feeling they've had a negative experience, they create a perception that's what MSD is about, It's important we stop this from happening.

"That's part of the culture change we can do 100 things right and one bad incident but that reflects on all of us."

MSD's regional commissioner Mike Bryant said while the region was looking forward to the physical changes, he was most excited to work with community partners on doing more together.

"We're always keen to work with employers and industries. If any want to help out, together we can make more of a difference."