Created in 1968, the Ministry of Transport has had an interesting history. This page outlines the changes decade by decade.

The Ministry was established through the merger of the Transport Department and the Civil Aviation Department, which also incorporated the Meteorological Service. In 1972, the Marine Department was added into the Ministry. By the early 1970s the Ministry had over 4,500 staff, integrating such diverse elements as traffic enforcement, air traffic control, weather forecasting, air accident investigation, and lighthouses.

Between 1988 and 2004 many of the Ministry’s roles and functions were divested to different government departments, State Owned Enterprises or private companies. Today the Ministry of Transport employs around 140 people, advising on policies which address the government’s transport priorities.

Find out more about Our Work.(external link)

Detail by decade



Phil Twyford became Minister of Transport on 26 of October 2017.


Peter Mersi became Secretary for Transport on 18 July 2016. Read Peter's Chief Executive profile.


Connecting New Zealand, a summary of the government’s policy direction for transport is published.


  • Steven Joyce 2008-2011
  • Gerry Brownlee 2011-2014
  • Simon Bridges 2014-2017
  • Phil Twyford 2017-Present

Secretaries for Transport (CE)

  • Martin Matthews 2008-2016
  • Peter Mersi 2016-current


When Labour became government in 1999, they began the process that resulted in the New Zealand Transport Strategy being released in December 2002.

In late 2003, the government announced a review of transport agencies to better align the sector to deliver the New Zealand Transport Strategy objectives. This review culminated in the combining of Transfund New Zealand and the Land Transport Safety Authority into Land Transport New Zealand in late 2004.

In 2008, Land Transport New Zealand and Transit New Zealand merged to become the New Zealand Transport Agency(external link) with responsibility for implementing policies around land transport.

Martin Matthews became Chief Executive for the Ministry of Transport on 29 September 2008. Under Martin’s leadership, the Ministry adopted a professional services operating model and streamlined its services.


Transit New Zealand and Land Transport New Zealand merged on 1 August to form the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Martin Matthews became Chief Executive for the Ministry of Transport on 29 September 2008.


In January 2005 The Maritime Safety Authority is renamed Maritime New Zealand (link) to reflect its wider roles of maritime safety, security and marine environment protection.


In June 2004, the Minister of Transport and State Services Minister announced changes to the government transport sector.

This resulted in policy functions of the Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) and Transfund transferring into the Ministry of Transport. The operational functions of LTSA and Transfund were brought together in a new agency – Land Transport New Zealand.

There was no change to the safety and regulatory roles of the Maritime Safety Authority (MSA), the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), including the Aviation Security Service (AvSec). However, their scope increased to take New Zealand Transport Strategy objectives into account. There were no significant changes for Transit New Zealand.

This sector review came out of the government’s 2001 evaluation of New Zealand’s public management system, the Review of the Centre. At December 2004 the Ministry of Transport had approximately 91 staff.


The government announced a review of the transport sector to explore opportunities and improve performance in the sector.


The Ministry’s headcount in 2000 was approximately 60 staff.


  • Mark Gosche 1999-2002
  • Paul Swain 2002-2004
  • Pete Hodgson 2004-2005
  • David Parker 2005-2006
  • Pete Hodgson 2006
  • Annette King 2006-2008
  • Steven Joyce 2008-2011

Secretaries for Transport (CE)

  • Alastair Bisley 1999-2003
  • [Dr] Robin Dunlop 2004-2006
  • Alan Thompson 2006-2008
  • Martin Matthews 2008-2016


When the National Party came into power in 1990 they commenced a process of splitting up the Ministry into State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), Crown Entities, or selling it to the private sector.

The government also began to focus on reducing the road toll and introduced a number of new measures to do this. These included:

  • combining of the Traffic Safety Service with the Police
  • introducing compulsory breath testing and speed cameras
  • requiring cyclists to wear helmets
  • requiring children to be restrained in vehicles

Road toll statistics(external link)

Transfund New Zealand, whose main function was to allocate resources to achieve a safe and efficient roading system, was extracted from the Ministry in 1996 to operate as a Crown Entity.


Transfund New Zealand was established.

The National Roads Fund was established.


The Vehicle Testing Division became a State Owned Enterprise called the Vehicle Testing New Zealand Ltd.

The Marine and Industrial Safety Inspection Service was privatised.

The effects of the downsizing of the Ministry resulted in a headcount at the end of 1994 of approximately 55 staff.


The Safety and Regulation of boilers, lifts and cranes was transferred to the Department of Labour's Occupational Safety and Health unit.

The Land Transport Division became a Crown entity called the Land Transport Safety Authority.

The Maritime Transport Division became a Crown entity called the Maritime Safety Authority.

The Aviation Security Service was transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority.


The Meteorological Service was separated from the Ministry of Transport and became the State Owned Enterprise called the Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService).

The Traffic Safety Service was transferred to the New Zealand Police.

Atmosphere and Climate Research was transferred to the Crown Research Institute, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

The Air Transport Division became a Crown entity called the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Driver Education Service was privatised.


The Office of Air Accidents became the Crown entity called the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.

The Ministry's headcount was approximately 2,700 staff. 


  • Rob Storey 1990-1993
  • Maurice Williamson 1993-1996
  • [Dame] Jenny Shipley 1996-1997
  • Maurice Williamson 1997-1999

Secretaries for Transport (CE)

  • Dame Margaret Bazley 1989-1992
  • Judi Stack 1994-1996
  • Stewart Milne 1997-1998

1980s and earlier

During the 1980s there were some changes to the way the Ministry was structured. The State Sector Act 1988 and the Public Finance Act 1989 began a process that legislatively and physically changed the New Zealand public sector landscape, the Ministry included.

The Ministry was structured into the business divisions of Land Transport (including Traffic Safety Service), Meteorological Service, Air Transport, Maritime Transport, and the Roading Division, which came from the Ministry of Works. The Roading Division and the Urban Transport Council became the Crown entity Transit New Zealand in October 1989.


The Roading Division and the urban transport Council became a Crown Entity called Transit New Zealand.

Local Authority Traffic Services were transferred to the Ministry of Transport.


The Ministry of Transport was restructured into business divisions: Land Transport (including Traffic Safety Service) Meteorological Service, Air Transport, Maritime Transport and Roading. The restructuring meant a reduction in headcount to approximately 3,000. This was mostly due to natural attrition rather than redundancy. It also saw the different business divisions move from one building to separate premises.


Air Traffic Services moved from the Ministry of Transport portfolio when it became the State Owned Enterprise known as Airways Corporation of New Zealand Ltd. The Rescue Fire Service was transferred to individual airports within New Zealand.

A new government policy prompted an internal review of the regional structure. The Ministry’s senior management carried out the review and identified 50 positions to be removed.

Despite the Ministry's portfolios decreasing and the effects of the internal review, the headcount in 1987 was approximately 4,200 staff.


The Marine Department was added to the Ministry of Transport, assembling all modes of transport under one organisation and increasing the Ministry's headcount to just over 3,700 staff.


The Ministry of Transport was established with a headcount of nearly 2,800 staff.


  • Peter Gordon 1968-1972
  • Allan ‘Martyn’ Finlay: Minister of Civil Aviation and Meteorological Services 1973-1975
  • Sir Basil Arthur 1972-1975
  • Colin McLachlan 1975-1981
  • George Gair 1981-1984
  • Richard Prebble 1984-1987
  • Bill Jeffries 1987-1990


Secretaries for Transport (CE)

  • R J Polaschek 1968-1975
  • Bert Edwards 1975-1980
  • Jack Healy 1981-1984
  • Derek Homewood 1985-1989