Official Information Requests

Requesting information

People in New Zealand can request information held by the government (official information) and can expect it to be made available unless there is a good reason to withhold it.

The Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) enables citizens, permanent residents, visitors to New Zealand, and bodies corporate registered or with a place of business in New Zealand, to make a request for official information held by government agencies, including the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS).

Making a request

Your request should be as clear and specific as you can possibly make it. Before making a request, please check our other sources of information listed below.

You can contact us in a number of ways to request information We would like
Email: oia.privacy@nzsis.govt.nz
Telephone: (04) 472 6270
Postal address: NZSIS, PO Box 900, Wellington
Your name
Contact address (email or postal)
Details of the information you would like
We may ask you for more details

If you make your request by phone or in person, we will either confirm it in writing ourselves or, if we are not sure what you are seeking, we may ask if you would be able to put it in writing.

The State Services Commission (SSC) provides advice on tips for requesting information and guidance on how agencies will respond.

Before making a request

Before making a request please check our other sources of information. You may find the information that you require is already available:

How long will it take?

We will acknowledge your request and are required by law to give you our decision on your request as soon as possible, and no later than 20 working days after we receive your request.

If we need more time to make our decision on your request, for example, if you are requesting a lot of information, we will let you know and will give you an idea of how long it will take. You can complain to the Office of the Ombudsman if you are not happy with our decision to extend the time.

We will also let you know within ten working days if it is necessary to transfer your request to another agency or Minister of the Crown.

Here is further guidance on how we will respond to your request.

You can see data on the number of requests that we receive each year and the timeliness of our responses on the Official Information Act statistics part of SSC's website.

What does it cost?

Requesting official information is free, although we can charge a reasonable amount if it will take a lot of work to supply the information requested. Find out more in our guidance on how we will respond.

If you are not happy with our decision to charge, you can complain to the Office of the Ombudsman.

What if I am not satisfied?

You may wish to contact us in the first instance to see if we can resolve the issue.

You can make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman if you:

  • Have concerns regarding the decision that we made on your request; and/or
  • Were unhappy about the way that your request was treated or processed.

These concerns can relate to the withholding of information, extending the timeframe to respond to you, any charges for providing the information that you have requested, delays in providing you with a decision or the information, or your request being transferred.

The Office of the Ombudsman can investigate and review our decision and may make a recommendation to us if it is considered appropriate.

OIA statistics and complaints data

On 31 January 2017, SSC published the first-ever State services-wide set of OIA statistics covering 110 agencies. This included all departments and statutory Crown entities subject to the OIA. This first set of data covered the 2015/16 financial year and reported the number of logged OIA requests, along with the number and proportion handled within the legislated timeframe.

The second set of statistics was published on 5 September 2017 and covered the 2016/17 financial year. This report included OIA volume, timeliness, number of requests published on agency websites and complaints.

SSC intends to continue to publish statistics on a six monthly basis. The scope (range of reported statistics) and reach (number of agencies included) may expand over time.

The Chief Ombudsman publishes data on OIA complaints received against Ministers and agencies on a six-monthly basis.

The statistics that NZSIS is required to report on for the period for July to December 2017 are listed below:

How many OIA requests were completed by your agency between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017? NZSIS completed 29 OIA requests
How many OIA requests was your agency unable to complete within the legislated timeframe (recognising the legislated timeframe can include extensions)? NZSIS completed all of its OIA requests within the legislated timeframe
How many responses to OIA requests were published on your agency's website between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017? NZSIS did not publish any responses to OIA requests on its website
How many OIA complaints were notified by the Ombudsman to your agency between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017 (including those notifications received during the period that relate to requests from previous periods)? One complaint was notified to NZSIS
How many OIA final views were formed by the Ombudsman against your agency between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017 (including those received during the period that relate to requests from previous periods)? No OIA final views were formed by the Ombudsman against NZSIS

To improve transparency and confidence in our openness, we have decided to report publicly on some additional OIA statistics, as follows. We will update these six-monthly to coincide with the release of SSC's State services OIA statistics. Note that these statistics are based on a manual collation of information.

The number of requests received between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017? 28 requests were received by NZSIS
The number of requests transferred in full between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017? One request was transferred in full by NZSIS
The number of requests withdrawn between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017? No requests to NZSIS were withdrawn
The number of requests refused between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017 12 requests to NZSIS of the 28 completed requests were refused
The number of requests granted in part between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017 Seven requests to NZSIS of the 28 completed requests were granted in part
The number of requests granted in full between 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017 Nine requests to NZSIS of the 28 completed requests were granted in full
Average time taken from receipt of request to despatch of the official information or decision to refuse The average time taken by NZSIS from receipt of a request to the despatch of the official information or decision to refuse was 25 working days
Average time taken from receipt to transfer The average time taken by NZSIS from receipt of a request to the transfer of a request was five days
Channel: by what method the request was submitted (i.e. phone call, email, FYI.org.nz, post, or in person) Requests were submitted to NZSIS via email (24 requests), via FYI.org.nz (one request), and via letter (four requests)
Requester category: which category of person made the request (individual citizen, media/journalist, corporation/business, academic, Member of Parliament or representative of their party, i.e. research unit) The following categories of person made requests to NZSIS: individual citizen (18 requests), media/journalist (six requests), academic (three requests), interest group (one request), and corporate/business (one request)

Using "Neither Confirm Nor Deny" response

The objectives of NZSIS are to contribute to the national security of New Zealand; the international relations and well-being of New Zealand; and the economic well-being of New Zealand.

Everything that we do needs to be in accordance with New Zealand law and New Zealand's human rights obligations, and is subject to a very stringent warranting and oversight regime.

We aim to be as open as possible about our work. Due to the sensitive nature of what we do, however, revealing details about what we do or do not know can prejudice New Zealand's interests. We could be the target of co-ordinated information requests from people who want to know if they are under investigation, and who may share responses with each other to draw conclusions about what we are or are not aware of or the nature of our capabilities.

This means that sometimes we may need to respond to a request for information with "we can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of information". The following points can, however, provide reassurance about the protections that are in place for New Zealanders:

  • NZSIS (and the Government Communications Security Bureau) must obtain a Type 1 intelligence warrant to authorise them to carry out otherwise unlawful activities for the purpose of collecting information about or to do any other thing directly in relation to New Zealanders;
  • NZSIS (and GCSB) can only obtain a Type 1 intelligence warrant when the activity is either:
    • Necessary to contribute to the protection of national security and identifies, enables the assessment of, or protects against any of the harms listed in section 58(2) of the Intelligence and Security Act; or
    • Will contribute to the international relations and wellbeing of New Zealand or the economic wellbeing of New Zealand and there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the New Zealander (or in some limited situations, a class of New Zealander) is acting, or purporting to act, for or on behalf of a foreign person, foreign organisation, or designated terrorist entity.
  • A Type 1 intelligence warrant must be jointly issued by the Minister responsible for both agencies and a Commissioner of Intelligence Warrants, and is subject to review by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security;
  • NZSIS (and GCSB) are also subject to the Privacy Act 1993, including Information Privacy Principles that limit the purposes for which agencies may collect, use, and disclose personal information.