Government releases nine new targets for health, crime, employment, education, housing and climate change

The Government has released nine targets for various public services including health, education, crime, employment, housing and climate change.  

Last week Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced specific targets were being introduced to measure public service outcomes as part of the Government's list of goals for the period until June 30.   

At the post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Luxon revealed the nine new targets, which included shorter stays in emergency departments, shorter wait times for (elective) treatment, reduced child and youth offending, reduced violent crime, fewer people on the Jobseeker Support Benefit, increased student attendance, more students at expected curriculum levels, fewer people in emergency housing and reduced net greenhouse gas emissions.   

Luxon said the targets deliver on the Government's three key promises to rebuild the economy, restore law and order, and deliver better public services.

He said despite "great progress" New Zealand has "gone backwards" which is why the targets are being reintroduced.

"That's why our Government is bringing back public service targets, to focus our public sector on driving better results for New Zealanders in health, education, law and order, work, housing, and the environment.

"These targets are not going to be easy to achieve. But we're not here to do what is easy - we're here to do what is needed to reduce crime, shorten healthcare wait times and improve educational achievement, no matter how difficult."

Luxon said the Government is "so focused on rebuilding the economy" so it can "afford to invest in the public services that New Zealanders deserve".

"But we know that spending more money will not in itself deliver better results. Despite significant increases in spending under the previous Government, New Zealanders got worse results from their public services," the Prime Minister said.

"We are taking a different approach. Setting targets will put a focus on delivery in the public sector where there wasn't before. They will also drive greater value for taxpayer money.

"The targets are deliberately ambitious - they will be challenging and require the public sector to think differently, dig deeply into root causes, learn from other places, and be innovative and disciplined in directing resources to where they will have the greatest impact on outcomes."


The first new health target is for 95 percent of patients to be admitted, discharged or transferred from an emergency department within six hours.   

The next target is for 95 percent of patients to wait less than four months for elective treatment.   

The first target will be overseen by Minister of Health Dr Shane Reti and looks to improve on data from 2023 which showed only 68 percent of patients were receiving the care they needed within six hours.   

The Government's report about their targets noted Aotearoa came close to achieving the 95 percent goal in the quarters between December 2014 and June 2015 when 93 percent of patients were seen in the timeframe.   

The second health target, which is also being led by Dr Reti, aims to improve wait times from 2023 when only 62 percent of patients waited less than four months for elective treatment.  

"Between early 2015 and the end of 2017, we were achieving this target with over 95 percent of patients receiving treatment in less than four months. We know it is possible," the report noted.  

"Health New Zealand has successfully focused recent efforts on seeing patients who have been waiting the longest. Importantly, there is a continued focus on clinical prioritisation, so those with the most urgent need get seen first."  

Progress for both targets will be measured by health agencies reporting their results every quarter. The first results will be for the July to September quarter this year.  


The crime targets include a 15 percent reduction in the total number of children and young people involved in serious and persistent offending, and 20,000 fewer people being victims of assault, robbery or sexual assault. 

 The first crime target will be led by Minister for Children Karen Chhour. It includes a 15 percent drop in the number of children and young people involved in serious and persistent offending by 2029.   

"While the Government is moving to put in place tougher consequences for young offenders, we are also focusing on getting our young people back on track," the report said.     

Progress on the targets will be measured using data and statistics on youth crime rates and progress will be reported quarterly through New Zealand Police data.  

The Government will also implement the Fast Track programme and measure the success of the military-style academies.   

The second crime target is being led by Minister of Justice Paul Goldsmith and aims to see 20,000 fewer victims of violent crime by 2029.   

"Violent crime hurts our people and communities. It especially affects Māori and those already experiencing disadvantage, including across generations," the report noted.  

"People should be safe in their homes and communities. We're determined to put public safety back at the heart of the criminal justice system.  

"Fewer of us will be victims of violent crime and our streets will be safer. Tougher sentencing and more police on our streets will help keep us safe. Cracking down on gangs will stop them from intimidating and harming Kiwis and repeat offenders will be off the streets for longer."  

Progress will be tracked using the New Zealand Crime and Victims' Survey.    


The Government wants 50,000 fewer people on the Jobseeker support benefit and in paid work, which it says will help provide people with a "sense of purpose, independence and connectedness".   

The target is being led by Minister for Social Development and Employment Louise Upston and aims to reduce the number of Kiwis on Jobseekers from 190,000 in 2023 to 140,000.   

"Overall, Jobseeker Support clients spend on average 13 years on benefit, and for people aged between 18 and 24 years, the average time on benefit is 19 years," the report said.   

"We need to do things differently to change longer-term outcomes for job seekers.  

"Work is about more than money. It provides a sense of purpose, independence and connectedness - leading to a better future and helping families break out of the cycle of inter-generational welfare dependence. It also creates opportunity and builds dignity."  

Progress will be tracked using data released weekly by the Ministry of Social Development.     


The education targets aim to get 80 percent of students present for more than 90 percent of the term, and 80 percent of Year 8 students at, or above, the expected curriculum level for their age in reading writing and maths by December 2030.   

Associate Minister of Education David Seymour and Minister of Education Erica Stanford are the lead ministers on the respective targets.   

The target is aiming to improve data from September 2023 which shows just 45.9 percent of students are attending school regularly.  

"Schools will be welcoming places for learners to be and parents will have ready access to the support needed to help their children attend regularly," the report said.  

"Through frequent attendance reporting schools will quickly identify students at risk of disengaging and work with their parents and whānau to get them back on track." 

Progress will be measured by the Ministry of Education regularly publishing attendance data, while the Education Review Office will conduct an "in-depth evaluation of the education systems, services and school practices designed to get the most chronically absent students back into school".  

The Social Wellbeing agency will then integrate the data to provide details to help both agencies respond appropriately.   

Meanwhile, curriculum achievements will be tracked by annual reporting to measure the progress towards the 2030 target.  

The Government will also use a national study to monitor students' progress and achievements in Years 3, 6, and 8. The study will be run by the University of Otago and the New Zealand Council for Educational Research.  

The lead minister, Erica Stanford, meanwhile is considering options for introducing more consistent school-based assessment and reporting for students as well.   

"We want all children and young people to master the basics and gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life," the report said.  

"By 2030 nearly all children entering secondary school will arrive with the confidence and reading, writing and maths knowledge they need to do well in their next stage of learning. 

"This sets them up well for success in NCEA and means they will leave school with the knowledge and skills needed to experience success in work and in life."  


The Government also wants to see 75 percent fewer households in emergency housing.   

Associate Minister for Housing Tama Potaka is in charge of the target which is aiming to "end the large-scale and long-term use of motels for emergency housing for people in urgent housing need".   

"Stable, secure housing reduces the long-term social and financial cost on people (and especially children) from living in emergency housing for long periods," the report said.   

"It improves outcomes for health, education, employment and the wider community.  

"Delivering this target will return emergency housing to its original intent - as a last resort used for short periods."  

To track progress the Government will monitor the number of households in emergency housing to ensure the time they spend using them is decreasing and overall numbers are reducing.   

This will include, in the short term, monitoring families with children who are in emergency housing for more than 12 weeks.   


The last target is to get on track to meet New Zealand's 2050 net zero climate change targets with total net emissions of no more than 290 megatonnes from 2022 to 2025 and 305 megatonnes from 2026 to 2030.  

The target is being led by Minister of Climate Change Simon Watts and will include "bold steps to reduce emissions, which will ensure New Zealanders can continue enjoying a way of life, and an economy, that protects what matters to us - our people, homes, communities, industries, and environment".   

Progress will be tracked through various measures including Greenhouse Gas Inventory and annual greenhouse gas emissions projections.   

The Ministry for the Environment is also investigating other complementary ways to track progress.