New Zealand ministers and top civil servants take pay cut amid corona crisis

By on 16/04/2020 | Updated on 24/09/2020
The pay cut will reduce PM Jacinda Ardern’s salary by around NZ$47,000 (US$28,000)

New Zealand’s PM, ministers and public service chief executives – the most senior officials in each government department – will take a 20% pay cut for six months, in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The news was announced by the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Wednesday and welcomed by state services commissioner Peter Hughes, who will also take a 20% pay cut along with deputy commissioner Helene Quilter.

Hughes said it was appropriate that the public service tightened its belt at a time when many New Zealanders and their families are facing unemployment and tough economic times. “Public servants have a critical role in the government’s response to COVID-19,” he said. “Our mission is to implement the government’s response and recovery effort, and keep the public service running for New Zealanders. This is a big job and no one else can do this.”

He added: “I am proud of the way the public service workforce has mobilised to respond to one of the biggest challenges New Zealand has ever faced. Many are volunteering to do more than their normal duties and coming up with innovative ideas and solutions to get the job done.”

Closing the gap in time of need

The pay cut will reduce Ardern’s salary by around NZ$47,000 (US$28,000). “If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now,” she said, as reported by The Guardian. “I am responsible for the executive branch and this is where we can take action… it is about showing solidarity in New Zealand’s time of need.”

Modelling from the Treasury has suggested that a prolonged and strict lockdown could see one in four New Zealanders out of work in the worst-case scenario, while the International Monetary Fund is forecasting that the New Zealand economy will shrink by 7.2% this year. In its World Economic Outlook, it says New Zealand will see the biggest economic contraction outside Europe, except for Venezuela.

A total of 1.5 million people have so far claimed the government’s wage subsidy.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.


  1. C says:

    I think 20% of her salary is around 90,000. I think she is on over 450,000 nzd.

    • Mia Hunt says:

      Hi there,

      Thank you for your comment. NZ$47,000 is the portion of her salary Ardern will forgo over the six months the pay cut is in place.


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