Why the CAB was established
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has its roots in war-time England.
CABs were established on the eve of the Second World War to help people cope with the dislocation, trauma and complexity that war brings.
Initially, CABs were places people could go to for help in tracing missing relatives in bombed areas or learning about all of the new war-time rules and regulations that were put in place at the time and which the general public were expected to know and observe.
But the need for the CAB did not diminish when the war ended. Things were changing in society with the growth of bureaucracy, the increasing codification of people’s rights and responsibilities, and a general increase in the complexity of everyday living.
By peace time the CAB had become an essential community service; somewhere people could go to learn about their rights and obligations and also how to use this information to good effect to get the best outcomes.
The CAB in New Zealand
In the decades since the war the CAB service has been replicated in other parts of the world and it has been adapted to suit the different societies in which it has been established. The Citizens Advice Bureau on Ponsonby Terrace in Ponsonby was the first to be established in New Zealand - it opened its doors to the public in October 1970. It is still going strong and now there are more than 80 other CABs in communities around New Zealand, from the far north to the deep south.
The CAB in New Zealand has changed and developed over the years so that it remains relevant and useful to the public. Some of the significant changes have included the growth in multilingual services, services aimed at migrant communities and a digital transformation which shifted all CABs onto a unified digital platform.