Cost of Government's Te Reo removal policy could vary wildly across agencies

Allegations of fiscal mismanagement have been flying around Parliament, with the new Government accusing Labour of leaving nasty financial surprises.   

But Labour's firing back, accusing the Government of using them as a scapegoat for a $2 billion tax cut shortfall.   

New Finance Minister Nicola Willis wasn't happy on Wednesday morning, telling AM that the economic cupboard had been left "bare" and there are "snakes and snails" and "nasty financial surprises" under the hood. 

Labour's message back to her is: learn to read.   

"If Nicola Willis didn't do her job in Opposition and actually read the [Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update], that's not my fault," said Labour finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.   

He added that the Government is lashing out because it can't fund its tax cuts.   

"There is an enormous fiscal hole in terms of paying for the tax cuts, even with more people smoking and more people gambling," Robertson said.   

Asked if he had an enormous fiscal hole because the Government is struggling to find a way to pay for its tax cuts, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Wednesday afternoon replied: "Not at all".   

"Our tax cuts as we've talked about and our tax relief for low and middle New Zealanders are fully funded," he said.  

What's not funded though is scrapping Māori names of the public sector organisations.  

They haven't specified which organisations are in line for anglicising, but here are 27 which fit the criteria to be renamed to English. Some are huge ministries, others are small. The cost? They don't know.    

Willis on Wednesday confirmed the policy wasn't costed before it was agreed to.  

Rebranding costs vary wildly across the public sector.  

Oranga Tamariki's rebrand from CYFS cost nearly $50,000 but changing the Transport Agency to Waka Kotahi only cost $6436. Other examples include the Education Ministry's Te Mahau identity costing more than $120,000 and the Climate Change Commission spending $22,302.50 on branding and visual identity work when it was created, which included its Maori name of He Pou a Rangi.

Using Oranga Tamariki's rebrand cost as a conservative mid-point, times by the 27 organisations with Te Reo names, that's more than $1.263 million taxpayer dollars.  

Willis said the Government was one that "will have fiscal discipline in place".  

For veteran aged care nurse Marianne Bishop who's fighting for pay equity, rebranding is wasted money.   

"It makes you feel undervalued in the job that you do and I think our job is quite valuable: caring," she said.    

Adding the billion-dollar tax cut landlords are set to get, and she says it's salt in the wound.  

"Who's going to benefit from that? It's not going to be the workers because I doubt rent is about to go down."  

Aged care worker numbers could though, if the pay equity claim stalls.   

The cost of de-Māorifying public sector names  

It's likely to cost millions of taxpayer dollars rebranding Government departments and agencies from Te Reo Māori into English.    

But don't expect an exact figure from anyone in the new Coalition Government - no one can say how much it will cost.   

That's despite the three parties being elected on promises of fiscal responsibility and the efficient use of public money.    

No one can say how many are impacted either, nor which ones will be excluded. For example, Te Papa Tongarewa – Museum of New Zealand which Winston Peters said won’t be renamed, although Luxon is open to Cabinet considering it.    

On Newshub’s count, there are 27 organisations that fit the Coalition Agreement's promise to "Ensure all public service departments have their primary name in English, except those specifically related to Māori".   

Most of these organisations have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars in recent times (and many public servants’ work hours) adding Te Reo Māori to their names or making their name completely Te Reo Māori.  

Heres a list of the recent rebranded organisations and their associated cost if available. It’s not known whether changing them back or removing Te Reo Māori will cost the same, more, or less.   

Oranga Tamariki   

In 2017, Child, Youth, and Family Services was overhauled and renamed Oranga Tamariki – the Ministry for Vulnerable Children. The total cost to do this was $17m, although the rebranding cost was $46,778. It was then rebranded in 2018 to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ – the cost of which is unknown.   

Waka Kotahi   

Transit NZ and Land Transport NZ merged to become the NZ Transport Agency – Waka Kotahi (NZTA) in 2008. In August 2019, those names were flipped so Waka Kotahi became the primary name in August 2019. The organization says its cost $6436 for the name change, which saw $636 on a new sign at its head office and the rest on legal fees for trademarking the new logo.     

Te Whatu Ora   

In 2022, the countries 20 District Health Boards were merged to create Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ. The total cost of the nation-wide rebrand was not available at time of publication. However various written questions to ministers reveal some costings. $50,000 was budgeted to created the name and identities. The logo cost $8,350 with a further $650 on regional variants. A written question in 2022 revealed $25,285.06 had been spent on branding materials and signage. 

Manatū Hauora   

The Ministry of Health became Manatū Hauora in 2022 following reforms by the fifth Labour government.  The total cost of rebranding was not available at time of publication.  

Te Hiringa Hauora  

The Health Promotion Agency spent $4,569 adding Te Reo Maori to its name. It’s since come under the umbrella of Te Whatu Ora, which will likely have to rebrand too.   

Peke Waihanga   

The Artificial Limb Service changed its name in 2021 to Peke Waihanga. It also includes the Orthotic Service and Peer Support Service.   

Kaianga Ora  

The merger of Housing NZ, Homes Land Community, and the KiwiBuild Unit created Kainga Ora – Homes and Communities in 2019 (interestingly when Winston Peters was Deputy Prime Minister).   

WorkSafe - Mahi Haumaru Aotearoa  

As part of a wider rebrand, Worksafe New Zealand became Worksafe – Mahi Haumaru Aotearoa which cost $80,450.76. 

Toitū Te Whenua  - Land Information   

Land Information New Zealand – or LINZ for short added Te Reo Maori to its name and branding in 2016 and 2021 at a total cost of $14,267.70.   

He Pou a Rangi - Climate Change Commission   

The Climate Change Commission spent $22,302.50 on branding and visual identity work when it was created, which included its Maori name of He Pou a Rangi. 

Ara Poutama Aotearoa – Corrections   

Corrections uses its English and Maori names interchangeably, therefore has two versions of its brand identity. Ara Poutama Aotearoa debuted in the 2005/6 financial year.   

Te Kawa Mataaho  

In 2020, the head of the public service got a fresh new look, although it was done in-house. The Public Service Commission became Te Kawa Mataaho at a cost of $10,360. That cost broken down: $9,460 for signage at its headquarters and $900 on the development of the Te Kawa Mataaho brand.   

 Te Ara Ahunga Ora  

The Commission for Financial Capability became Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission at the end of 2021 at a cost of $27,463. Most of it was done in-house, except website design.   

Toka Tū Ake - EQC   

The Earthquake Commission has become Toka Tu Ake – EQC as part of an overhaul of the organisation and its laws. It’s cost around $50,000 which includes the legal fees, consultation and other preparations. It’s only an interim name though - later this year it will become Toka Tu Ake – The Natural Hazards Commission.   

Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara – ACC  

The Accident Compensation Commission or ACC added Te Reo Maori to its branding in 2001/2. It’s not known how much it cost to do so. 

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service  

In the 2020/21 financial year, $7,589 was spent renaming Forestry New Zealand as Te Uru Rakau – New Zealand Forest Service. It was done in-house.   

Kanoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit    

In 2020, the Labour Government renamed the NZ First-initiated Provincial Growth Fund as Kanoa – REDIU. The rebrand cost $5,178.30 at the time, which included new signs, flags, and other promotional material.   

Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education  

The Ministry of Education was gifted its Te Reo Maori name in 1989 and while the name on its website remains in English, it’s referred to as ‘Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | the Ministry of Education’ in a lot of its documentation. They don’t have costings available.   

Te Mahau  

Formed in 2021 as a response to the review of Tomorrw’s School’s Te Mahau - Education Services Agency provides services and support for schools, staff, families, and communities. The whole organisation cost $5.1m to set up, of which the brand design cost $129,960.    

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu  

The Correspondence School rebranded to Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu in 2009. They don’t have an exact figure for costs, but board minutes from 2009 refer to the “implementation of the new name will be phased over time in order to minimise costs”.   

Aroturuki Tamariki   

The Independent Children’s Monitor was established in 2019 and became independent of MSD in 2023 when it adopted the name Aroturuki Tamariki. The organisation says the cost to change branding and logo would be minimal because it’d likely just be electronic, but there would still be staff hours required to do it.   

Te Kawangatanga o Aotearoa   

If you head to the government’s main landing website (, you’ll see it has the name Te Kawangatanga o Aotearoa. However, it’s not know what the costs were for changing it.   

Manatū Taonga   

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage gave more prominence to its Maori name Manatū Taonga in 2011. The ministry says the only cost implications included a modest amount of design work which was changed to coincide with stationery reprints that were already due.  

Organisations with Māori names since inception   

  • Te Aho o Te Kahu (Cancer Control Agency)  
  • Whaikaha (Ministry of Disabled People)    
  • Taumata Arowai (Water Management Commission)  
  • Organisations with Maori names that will be disestablished   
  • Te Pukenga (Merger of all polytechs and ITOs)  
  • Te Aka Whai Ora (Māori Health Authority)  

Historical rebrand costings   

In 2003, the Defence Force rebranded the Army at a cost of $96,667.   

The governmnet’s RealME was rebranded at a cost of $191,000    

The Ministry for Social Development was rebranded from Work and Income NZ at a cost of $158,476.60.