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Calling all leaders: Addressing New Zealand’s global corruption slide

New Zealand has long been celebrated on the global stage as an example of almost singular integrity and transparency. From our commitment to clean, green environmental sustainability, to our reputation for fair governance and lack of institutional corruption, Aotearoa New Zealand has enjoyed admiration and respect worldwide. 

Recent shifts: declining rankings and concerns

Recent shifts in international rankings, however, paint a concerning picture, signalling a potential erosion of trust and integrity.

The Global Soft Power Index, which measures a country’s influence abroad, has seen New Zealand’s ranking drop significantly in the past few years. Additionally, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) now places New Zealand in third place, marking the first time in a decade that it has fallen from first position.

“While New Zealand remains among the least corrupt countries in the world, the reduction in our points and drop in ranking is a reminder that complacency is not an option in our battle against corruption,” says Anne Tolley, Chair of Transparency International New Zealand.

“The decline in the confidence of the business community is particularly troublesome. Maintaining low levels of corruption is essential for our economy and for our values of fairness and accountability.”

These declines are not empty statistics. They’re indicators of deeper issues within the fabric of New Zealand’s society and governance. 

Corruption, defined as ‘the misuse of authority for personal or organisational gain’, can manifest in various forms, from fraudulent activities to unethical practices. While New Zealand still maintains a relatively high CPI score, the recent downward trend raises questions about the effectiveness of our existing anti-corruption measures – and the state of whistleblowing in New Zealand in general.

One of the primary drivers behind the decline in corruption rankings is the perceived lack of transparency in government spending and decision-making processes. Instances of COVID-19 subsidy fraud, tax evasion, and insufficient responses to rising scamming incidents have shaken public trust in governmental institutions.

Moreover, the heightened focus on inappropriate spending of public funds during times of economic hardship underscores the importance of accountability and oversight. As households struggle with the cost of living, ensuring that taxpayer money is allocated responsibly is clearly paramount.

Strategies for improvement: a multifaceted approach

So how can we – as individuals, organisations, and the country as a whole – arrest this troubling downward slide? 

Addressing these challenges will require a multifaceted approach. Whistleblowing mechanisms play a crucial role in uncovering wrongdoing and holding accountable those who engage in corrupt practices. By empowering individuals to report misconduct anonymously and without fear of reprisal, organisations and governments can root out corruption at its core.

Furthermore, promoting a culture of ethics and integrity is essential to building trust in any organisation – and must be the starting point in restoring New Zealand’s reputation as an exemplar of honesty and corruption-free governance. Creating a more open approach to ethics and whistleblowing in New Zealand will involve not only enforcing robust anti-corruption policies but also fostering a climate where ethical behaviour is celebrated and rewarded.

Whistleblowing in New Zealand

Whether a public or private organisation, ethical service providers such as Report It Now® are go-to allies in this endeavour. With specialised software and services to support whistleblowing in New Zealand, Report It Now® can provide the tools and support necessary for individuals to report wrongdoing confidentially, and for leadership to stand in solidarity with them. 

Only by placing accountability and transparency at the forefront can we – individually and collectively – rebuild New Zealand’s first-class reputation for integrity and safeguard it for the future.

So this is a call to action. We can continue the downward trend in the international perception of New Zealand’s integrity and corruption-free status, or we stand together in its defence, promoting honesty, transparency, and accountability in all that we do. 

At Report It Now®, we’re dedicated to working collaboratively with Kiwi organisations to fight corruption and uphold honesty and integrity. Please join us

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