The New Zealand Government has recently consulted publicly on an expanded terms of reference for the Inquiry. The New Zealand public were able to provide feedback on the expanded terms of reference between 8 Feb and 24 March 2024. This feedback will be provided to the New Zealand Government ahead of any changes to the terms of reference.

You can keep up with the work of the Inquiry, including any changes to the terms of reference, by subscribing to our newsletter or following the Inquiry on social media.

Currently in scope

The Inquiry is currently tasked with looking at how to strengthen Aotearoa New Zealand’s preparedness for future pandemics. It will do this by identifying what lessons can be learned from New Zealand’s response to COVID-19, and how those lessons could be applied in preparation for any future pandemic.

The current scope of the Inquiry includes looking at and considering for the future:

    • The public health response and delivery of health services – this includes things like border closures and MIQ arrangements; the approval of and mandating of vaccines; lockdowns and isolation arrangements; as well as vaccine passes, gathering limits, and personal protective equipment (or PPE).
    • The provision of goods and services – this includes things like how people’s everyday needs were met during the pandemic, such as the provision of lifeline utilities and services, e.g. water and electricity; how education and childcare services were delivered; and other essential services that the Government provides, like regular superannuation payments or housing.
    • The economic response – this includes things like how support to individuals and businesses was provided, like the wage subsidy, for example; exemptions that were put in place for specific industries like farming, for example; and the Government’s economic response more generally.
    • Government communication, engagement, and decision-making – this includes things like how people and communities were communicated and engaged with during the pandemic, in order to limit the spread of the virus and ensure people were kept safe, and what sort of decision-making structures and arrangements might be used or put in place during a pandemic that continues for a long time.

The Inquiry is also tasked with looking at what kinds of legislative and policy settings and delivery approaches could improve New Zealand’s preparedness and response to a future pandemic.

The Inquiry is also considering the interests of Māori in the context of the pandemic, consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi relationships.

The Inquiry is also looking at how to best support the wellbeing of essential workers (people working in supermarkets or at the border, for example), and communities and population groups (Māori and Pasifika, for example) who are likely to be most impacted by a pandemic.


Limits to the Inquiry's scope

While the Inquiry will look at many aspects of the pandemic response, currently, there are a number of topics outside the Inquiry’s scope. These include:

    • Particular clinical decisions made by clinicians or by public health authorities during the pandemic;
    • How and when the strategies and other measures devised in response to COVID-19 were implemented or applied in particular situations or in individual cases;
    • The specific epidemiology of the COVID-19 virus and its variants;
    • Vaccine efficacy;
    • Recent reforms to New Zealand’s health system, including the organisational arrangements for public health services;
    • The judgments and decisions of courts and tribunals and independent agencies such as the Ombudsman, the Privacy Commissioner, or the Independent Police Conduct Authority relating to the pandemic;
    • The operation of the private sector, except where the private sector delivers services integral to a pandemic response;
    • Particular decisions taken by the Reserve Bank’s independent monetary policy committee during the pandemic;
    • Any adaptation of court procedures by the judiciary during the pandemic;
    • Any adaptation of parliamentary processes during the pandemic;
    • The conduct of the general election during the pandemic. 

Click here to read the Inquiry's terms of reference in full.