August 2023 | Government to introduce pay gap reporting
New Zealand’s government announced it would follow Australia, France, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in requiring companies to report on their gender pay gap. The rule will initially cover only companies with more than 250 employees, but will be expanded to those with more than 100 employees in four years. The announcement was welcomed but called “overdue” by Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo, who cited the need for parliament to draft and pass the relevant legislation and the current lack of reporting on ethnic or disability-related pay gaps, which the government said it is interested in investigating, as an area for necessary improvement.
June 2023 | Independent panel recommends sweeping electoral changes
The Independent Electoral Review Panel examining New Zealand’s electoral law recommended lowering the voting age from 18 to 16, lowering the parliamentary threshold to 3.5 per cent, as well as other changes. The draft recommendations are the result of 58 public meetings and more than 1700 submissions from New Zealand citizens, a process commissioned by former Justice Minister Kris Faafoi in 2022. The expert panel is due to submit its final recommendations to the government in November. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said there are no plans to hold a referendum to assess public opinion of the changes before general elections in October.
March 2023 | Teachers strike over pay and resources
Most schools were closed on 15 March as 50,000 primary, secondary, and kindergarten teachers walked out after negotiations with the Ministry of Education reached an impasse over what teacher unions argued was a lack of resources to allow teachers to provide quality education to all students and pay rises that did not keep pace with inflation. It was the second time that both primary and secondary teachers went on strike together, and the first to include kindergarten teachers.
January 2023 | Ardern steps down
Chris Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand’s 41st prime minister on 25 January, after his predecessor, Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation on 19 January. Ardern’s resignation came as a surprise to most observers, and she cited professional burnout as the reason for her decision. Hipkins will lead the Labour Party in New Zealand’s 14 October general election.