Royal Commission of Inquiry Progress Updates

Updates from the Royal Commission of Inquiry are published here as they are issued.

31 March 2023

The work of the Royal Commission of inquiry into COVID-19 lessons is progressing, with the focus currently on identifying and sourcing publicly available information.

This has included an initial communication to Government agencies about reports, reviews and information that can help inform the Commission’s work.

The Commission will also look at other information from a wide range of sources about the COVID-19 response, such as existing websites for example, in this early phase.

A key consideration for the Commission, as per its Terms of Reference, is to ensure that it initially uses publicly available information where possible to inform its work, such as previously completed COVID-19 reports or reviews, of which there are a large number.

Using this approach, the Commission can ensure it doesn’t repeat work that has already been undertaken. The approach will also help guide the next stages of the Commission’s work, including identifying key information gaps, and its broader engagement.

For these reasons, the Commission is not seeking additional information outside this process, at this stage.

Timeframes for the Commission's work programme are still being developed, including how the wider community can contribute to the Commission’s overall mission.

28 February 2023

Section 14 of the Inquiries Act 2013 allows the Royal Commission to conduct its inquiry as it considers appropriate, subject to certain considerations as set out in that section and to the Terms of Reference. Clause 7 of the Terms of Reference guides the Royal Commission of Inquiry as to the way it will operate and the procedure it will follow.  

Broadly, the inquiry must not take a legalistic approach and must use the most efficient and least formal procedures to gather information in addition to that which is already publicly available. It is currently focussed on identifying publicly available information.

The Royal Commission is mindful of the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on New Zealand, and those it may wish to speak to, and of the need for its procedures and processes to be flexible over time.  At this stage it has determined that no person is expected to be designated as a core participant under section 17 of the Inquiries Act 2013.  It will develop further procedures and processes in due course, including how it might engage with the public.  As noted below, it will outline its approach once further planning and research has been undertaken.

1 February 2023

On 8 December 2022, the Government announced the appointment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look at the lessons learned from Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 that should be applied in preparation for any future pandemic.

The Secretariat for the Royal Commission of Inquiry is currently being established and the Royal Commission is planning its approach to its work.  Anita West has been appointed as the Executive Director to head the Royal Commission’s Secretariat.  Following a request from the Royal Commission, the Solicitor-General has appointed Jane Meares as Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry’s Terms of Reference provide that from 1 February 2023 the inquiry may begin considering evidence. The Royal Commission’s current focus is on identifying and considering the significant amount of information that is already publicly available.

Over the coming months the Royal Commission of Inquiry will share more information on how it plans to operate.  The Inquiry’s final report is due 26 June 2024.