EXCLUSIVE: OIA reveals WINZ trespassing 400 people a year


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W.I.N.Z is broken and it’s breaking my heart.

Every year WINZ issues trespass notices to just under 400 people.

2008 / 418

2009 /  382

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2010 /  347

2011 /  411

2012 /  373

2013 /  384

And this year till June the total is 359.

Meanwhile, following the terrible tragedy in Ashburton, the Ministry of Social Development have appointed an additional 278 security staff to WINZ offices.

Let me state clearly I totally support the staff of WINZ to take whatever steps they need to ensure they are working in a safe environment. This is paramount and personal safety is not negotiable.  What I question is if there aren’t other steps that can be taken and preventative measures put in place, which focus on de-escalating situations and also ensuring that the people trespassed still have access to service.

Under the current procedure once someone has been trespassed they aren’t just trespassed from the local office but they are trespassed from every office in the region. If you wish to challenge the trespass notice you have to go to court. The result is that a person trespassed then has to find someone who is willing to act as their agent or they use the remote service which is all done with no face to face contact, just through phone calls and emails.

Of the people I have met that have been trespassed, the common denominator always seems to be a breakdown in communication. If someone is struggling to communicate their problems in person, I doubt that forcing them to try and communicate their needs by phone is going to be any more successful.

The numbers I have quoted came to me by way of an OIA from another advocate. I was so shocked and horrified by the numbers that since Friday, when I received the information, I have been unable to decide what to do with it. Then I calmed down. I calmed down and realised that I was being ridiculous not because the information isn’t important, but because I’m not a journalist. If this was such a big deal, surely a journo would have chased this up? I’m just a blogger doing the occasional op-ed, right? Maybe no-one else finds the idea of a Government department trespassing 400 people a year unfathomable?

One of the reasons I was happy to get this information was because it is something I and probably a lot of other advocates or beneficiaries have wondered about ever since the tragedy that occurred in Ashburton, when Paula Bennett told the media in one of her responses that the suspect had been trespassed. This information was couched in the context that it was hard to get banned from WINZ. If you have had any dealings with WINZ you know this is not true.

It is actually reasonably easy to get trespassed. 400 people a year will back me up. In a situation where people are desperate and trying to get their basic needs met, things as straight forward as food and shelter, dialogue can escalate quickly.

The advocate who requested and forwarded the information to me is Olive McRae. Olive works voluntarily in Otepoti (Dunedin) assisting others who may have problems dealing with the increasingly bureaucratic and challenging process of accessing service from WINZ. Olive’s solution is simple. We need trained peer support and advocacy available in the community available to all beneficiaries. Advocates that are trained to work with beneficiaries and that are familiar with the Social Security Act.

Advocacy is one solution. It is a solution based on ensuring that people get continued access to service and support when they might be feeling disempowered by the system and in need of an independent voice that can help communicate their needs when they feel they are not being heard.

But let’s be honest. Any place of work that is resorting to trespassing 400 a people a year really has to look internally. Something is drastically wrong. The system is broken and failing the staff and the beneficiaries.

Having access to advocacy certainly can’t hurt. Perhaps it could go some way to helping heal a department that is becoming seen as increasingly heartless.



  1. Further proof of the decline of a once effective social security safety net into a cruel bureaucratic lockdown that views “clients” as the problem rather than the reason for its existence.

    Hang your heads in shame;
    –anyone getting paid for ‘journalism’ for missing this
    –those thinking of or buying a state house for renting–you bludgers
    –selfish sleepy Hobbit kiwis generally

    It is not ok for 400 fellow vulnerable citizens to be treated like naughty kids at the mall and trespassed. Trespassing is another part of the surveillance cam, private prison, “48 hr sneak and peek” authoritarian culture.

  2. I’m a trained advocate and I agree with Olive entirely. If they put half the amount of $ into supporting advocacy services as they now do for security guards the problem would be nipped in the bud.

    Critically we need to advocate for people with disabilities as they are the ones most disadvantaged by the system.

    • Paula “Beneshit” has as loyal servant of Blinglish been putting caps on funding for advocacy services, now mostly only “budgeting services”, who also run some food banks and so. They get some funding from MSD, as otherwise many services would not be able to cover basic costs. Others have to run fundraising activities and find sponsors.

      I admire advocates for the work they do, some purely voluntary, and they put up with high expectations and much despair coming from the badly affected WINZ clients.

      But as there is this issue with insecure and insufficient funding, only so many services exist, and only so many people work for them. Hence demand is not met, and hence many WINZ clients are left to fend on their own, or try to get family or friends to step in and help out.

      All this is wanted by MSD and the government, as the less resistance there is, the more “success” their relentless drive to force people off benefits, or deny them support from the start, will show in statistics they parrot off in Parliament and in front of media (i.e. lowest benefit numbers since 2009).

      It is criminal what goes on, certainly very inhumane.

  3. These figures are definitely a sign that the WINZ network is failing the people who need the most assistance. This isn’t necessarily the fault of those who working within it, I feel that the problem is systemic.

    With the National government’s increasing demonisation of beneficiaries, their continued restrictions on both who is entitled to help and how much help they can receive, frustration levels are hitting all time highs as people who just need some financial assistance to meet their day-to-day bills are being turned away.

    All of this is no excuse for people to be abusive, threatening or aggressive, but it is a just reason for us all to question why the major agent of our social security is banishing those who need their help most.

    • My experience is that case managers are abusive, threatening, and aggressive. I have never been treated with such scorn as I have in Winz, it`s no wonder clients try to protect themselves…. and Countryboy says it all, it`s all about the banks and big corporations who need a supply of unemployed and cheap labour to keep their profits high and shareholders happy.

  4. Excellent Post .

    The title ‘ Work and Income ‘ is a misnomer . The entire mandate of WINZ is a logical fallacy . Their old term for the unemployed or for other people without the support of a regular source of income was ‘ client ‘ . Now , it is ‘ Job Seeker ‘ . ( More than a little bit of sick . )

    WINZ is one big fat lie . A logical fallacy and people are not so dumb that they can’t see through that bullshit . That makes people angry and if you’re under financial stress , know you look like crap , you have teeth missing , you see others driving about in nice cars wearing nice clothes then you have to suffer the indignity of crawling into a vast office staffed with stiff necked people looking down their noses at you for a meagre few dollars that you can’t possibly survive on , of course you’re going to be easily angered . That’s called being a human being .

    The very deeply disturbing thing about WINZ is that it does a job , but it’s not the job you may think it does .

    It’s part of a system that’s overtaken us by stealth , it’s the bastard duopoly that is the liaisons between the off-shore banks and the off-shore corporations .

    In there , in that stinking nest of snakes , the unemployed is a vital ingredient of their method of operation . An indebted population is essential to the operation of the Banking system and of course , unemployed people are an important commodity of that methodology .

    Equally of course , the braying , bloodthirsty Right Wing will scream ‘ Bludger ‘ in the faces of those on benefits claiming that anyone of a benefit is on a gravy train and all they do all day is sit and relax under a tree snoozing , smoking and drinking .
    I can tell you what some people do . Of a bitterly cold Christchurch winter in a damp house on a dangerous street . They live in the one bed all day with the eletric blanket on as the house falls below the inside tempeture of the fridge they sold to buy a weeks worth of take away pizzas . The inhuman Right Wing will say ” Serves them right . ” That would prove my point .
    I will go so far as to say , the entire Right Wing of our country IS a logical fallacy . The people who voted Right are a fallacy . They’re shimmering , indistinct beings held together with blood , bone and guts but otherwise , they don’t actually exist in human spirit form .
    This government is a veil of deceit within which evil plans are hatched to cause the most terrible harm to our society which is reflecting in our very culture which , in itself is at great risk of being terminally destroyed forever .

    This is essential watching .

    Costas Lapavitsas .

  5. WINZ is underfunded and understaffed, but instead of hiring and training more staff the government simply hires more big bruisers to glare at you when you go in. That’s their solution!?

    • Not only are they already understaffed but staff that leave are not replaced. In this way the government can claim they are not making anyone redundant while increasing the work load on remaining staff. I believe Housing NZ staff have been made redundant and their work load passed on to remaining understaffed MSD employees.

  6. This shocks me, but does not surprise me. Thanks for sharing this, it is VERY important information, and the damned mainstream media better take not of this and do many follow up OIA requests to WINZ and dig deeper, and reveal what has been going on there under Paula Bennett. But as the MSM are too busy with other stuff, and many are not even authorised to spend time on such topics, we can wait until we turn green and blue to read about this in the Herald or the Dominion.

    Looking at these figures, it becomes so clear, that since the introduction of the hideous, punitive welfare reforms in July last year, trespass notices appear to have increased substantially. That proves how draconian and unjust those reforms are, and how they destroy the environment for many to work with WINZ staff.

    So I am no longer surprised and do give credit to what others have published on this:





    I wonder also now, whether some of those up to 80 persons the SIS do (according to John Key) have on their “watch list” – as suspected “terrorists” or sympathisiers – may be individuals that have been trespassed and shut out by WINZ?

    How would such people cope, I ask, if they have no “agent”, advocate or anybody else helping them?

    As for the advocacy services, they have long been put under pressure by MSD, so to be grateful for every dollar they get in funding, and new rules dictate what they are meant to do. Most are running as “budgeting services” now, and few dare to bite the hand that feeds them (in many cases still to some degree MSD).

    No wonder some crack up under the pressure!

  7. For the love of god. You can’t “trespass” someone!!! You serve a trespass notice on them. Can The Daily Blog at least show some semblance of literacy? Do we have to use the dumbed-down corporate gibberish that gushes so readily from the mouths of idiots like Paula Bennett?

    Otherwise, yes, it is quite shocking. I do wonder what it is like to be a beneficiary in Ashburton these days, in terms of getting access to service. It amazes me that nobody, in any political party or in any other forum ever comments on the simple reality of our monetary system, which requires interest rates to bet set at a level which controls inflation by having a buffer of 4-5% unemployment. The unemployed serve a very real function in our economy, and should be thanked for their sacrifice not pilloried and punished with Bennett’s stupid, inhumane and trifling “reforms”. Fat chance of that though.

    • I stand corrected. Andrew Little has made some comments on the The Standard about recognising the plight of beneficiaries and the need to look at a Universal Basic Income. Good man.

  8. In some wealth engenders social responsibility. In others it only brings a loss of humanity.For those whose share of the communal wealth is negligible must forever beg at the fortified gates of the rich.
    Great poverty engenders great desperation. But poverty of the soul is to be feared far more. So many, many lives of quiet desperation. AM I NOT MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?
    The death of those poor workers in Ashburton should lie squarely at the doorstep of the uncaring, the makers of great policy who line only their own pockets.
    WE need John Minto not John Key.

  9. Governments policies killing, harming more people than we, and probably they, will ever know…until their judgement day.

  10. I’m still appalled this information has garnered no interest from the MSM. In any other situation would excluding 400 people a year be an acceptable outcome?

    This is insane. The new security measures and the resulting exclusion might result in less trespass notices being issued, but it is already resulting in people not being able to access basic requirements.

    • The media is totally obsessed with a convicted murderer and abuser, who dared to LEGALLY apply for a passport under his own name, by which he broke NO existing rule or law, and who LEGALLY booked a flight to Chile and then Brazil. He was about to be released from prison some time in the near future, but had the “audacity” to take extended leave too early. Of course that man has a shady background, deserves to be held to account, but he is the “hunted” at present, as the MSM AND TOO MANY IN THE PUBLIC just like to hunt and beat someone these days, and this gets almost ALL the attention.

      Only little attention is placed on the government departments and ministries, that so badly failed here.

      About beneficiaries “sympathetic” or even “good”, respectful news are not wanted, they are waiting for the next FRAUD figures out, to report on. That is the sad truth about the media in this country, and most in the public still fall hook, line and sinker for the drivel and hyped up trash they get presented every day.

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