Pensions for needy elderly people were first introduced by the Liberal government in 1898. The state’s role in ensuring all New Zealanders were looked after greatly expanded under the first Labour government, elected in 1935. After 1984, successive Labour and then National governments cut back the welfare state and reduced benefits, but state assistance is still extended to large numbers of New Zealanders, including the unemployed, the sick, single parents, the elderly and students. The Ministry of Social Development oversees this assistance, which is provided through one of its divisions, Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ).
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