Our Principles, Aims and Values 

Our Aims
Our Values and Principles
Our Standards
Our volunteers and their contribution
Our work for positive social change
Our involvement in the community

The Aims of the CAB

In order for a democratic society to function well people need to be able to participate in that society in a meaningful way.  This requires that people know, understand and are able to exercise their rights and obligations.  In our complex modern world, empowerment cannot be achieved by merely having access to information.  Information can be of little use if it is not also accompanied by someone to guide the recipient and help them understand the information, apply it to their situation, and turn that information into action and results.


The essence of the CAB service is about promoting knowledge and understanding and providing people with the confidence and support that will enable them to influence the things that affect them. When helping individual clients our aim is not to take over the management of a client’s situation, but instead to work alongside them, helping them to help themselves and providing pathways for resolving their issues.  This way, the client has an opportunity to grow in confidence and to learn.


The Citizens Advice service has been designed to be as comprehensive, seamless and accessible as possible and to prevent people in need from discounting themselves from being eligible for our help.  This puts the CAB in the unique position of being able to reach people who would otherwise never be connected with the help services they need, and those who would otherwise fall through the cracks.  


The aims of Citizens Advice Bureaux New Zealand (CABNZ) are to:


  • Ensure that individuals do not suffer through ignorance of their rights and responsibilities, or of the services available, or through an inability to express their needs effectively. 
  • Me noho matāra kia kaua te tangata e mate i tāna kore mōhio ki ngā āhuatanga e āhei atu ana ia, ki ngā mahi rānei e tika ana kia mahia e ia, ki ngā ratonga rānei e āhei atu ana ia; i te kore rānei āna e āhei ki te whakaputu i āna hiahia kia mārama mai ai te tangata.
  • Exert a responsible influence on the development of social policies and services, both locally and nationally.
  • Kia tino whai wāhi atu ki te auahatanga o ngā kaupapa-ā-iwi me ngā ratonga-ā-rohe, puta noa hoki i te motu.

We support the principle of partnership reflected in the Treaty of Waitangi. 

The CAB service in New Zealand is about helping people to know and understand their rights and obligations, how to use this information to get the best outcomes, providing people with the confidence and support they need to take action, and working for positive social change within communities and wider society.

The CAB's Values and Principles

The organisation has identified the values and principles that drive us and which sit at the forefront of how we consciously do things and how we interact with our clients, stakeholders, partners, and each other.


Our values are:


  • Independence
  • Social justice
  • Volunteerism
  • Impartiality
  • Client empowerment
  • A free service
  • Confidentiality

 Our principles are:


  • Accessibility
  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Humanness

We recognise that meeting our objectives inevitably involves us making judgments about what sort of advice and information is likely to help the client to solve any problems they are facing.  


As an organisation we make judgments about what sort of situations are unacceptable and require systemic change (social change). Our judgments are based on ‘core values’ of:


  • The right to know how your community works, what you are entitled to and what your responsibilities are
  • The right to participate in active democracy
  • The advancement of health
  • The relief of poverty
  • The advancement of human rights

The effectiveness of the CAB service is dependent on being a trusted place to come for assistance regardless of what the issue may be.  Government cannot be a trusted place to come for assistance in the same way that the CAB is.  This is because Government has a statutory role which requires it to take a prescribed course of action if people disclose certain issues.  Because we are not a statutory body with an enforcement role, people often feel safer disclosing sensitive and serious issues to us. 


It means that our response to clients is driven by the client’s needs rather than by statutory accountabilities.  This gives us an advantage in terms of being able to both uncover the fundamental issues for our at-risk clients and then to assist them with these issues. This enables us to assist in situations where otherwise people might ‘fall through the cracks’ with their situation never being properly resolved because they are too afraid to step forward for help.  It can help us to help our clients avoid situations needlessly snowballing into much bigger problems. 


Finally, learning is an important element of our service. Learning as an individual, learning as an organisation and learning as a community and a society. The process of working through their situation with a bureau interviewer is a learning experience for the client.  Clients learn about:


  • Their legal rights and responsibilities
  • The legislation relevant to their situation
  • Which are the Government agencies whose areas of responsibility relate to their situation
  • The relevant specialist services in the community
  • The community generally; who is out there doing what, who can help them, what support is available, and whether there are other people they can meet who have similar experiences and understand what they are going through
  • The processes, including any government processes, involved in addressing their issues and how to navigate their way through them

The CAB's Standards

All Citizens Advice Bureaux belong to our national body, Citizens Advice Bureaux New Zealand (CABNZ). To be members of CABNZ, each bureau must meet a set of standards that ensure the delivery of a quality service that provides accurate information and appropriate support. Click on this link for more information about the way we are structured.


CAB volunteers and their contribution

The CAB service is provided by over 2,600 trained volunteers. The CAB contributes approximately 600,000 hours of voluntary work on an annual basis – or 314 full time equivalent jobs.  According to some research that Pricewaterhouse Coopers carried out in 2004, it would have cost about $9 million at that time to replace the CAB’s volunteer contribution with paid staff.  This placed the Citizens Advice service in the top 1% of profit-making organisations.


There are 37 different ethnicities represented in our volunteer base as well as a range of career experience, qualifications, and involvement in other community and voluntary work.


Read here about how to become a volunteer.


The CAB's work for positive social change

Right from the beginning, the CAB has sought to effect positive social change through social policy work. One of the tasks of those early bureaux in war-time Britain was to collect information about the kinds of problems causing distress to people and to bring these problems to the attention of the authorities.


Today this dual role of both helping individuals within the community and working for change within the community and society has come to characterise the Citizens Advice Bureau and is an important part of who we are and what we do.  The importance of our work for social change is reflected in the aims of CABNZ.


The nature of our service puts us in a good position to be able to pick up on policy and procedural issues which are affecting people in adverse ways. We see this as giving us a responsibility to engage in social policy work at the local and national levels to help effect positive social change.


We use client enquiry statistics, client case studies, anecdotal evidence and our knowledge and experience to identify systemic problems, raise issues, and effect change. 


The information which informs our social policy work is used in such a way as to ensure no individual client is identified – statistics are aggregated and case studies are anonymised to ensure the preservation of client confidentiality and privacy.


Read more about our work for positive social change.


CAB involvement in the community

The nature of our service puts us in the centre of the networks of social services in communities and we are a key way through which people can access the range of services available to them in their communities. 


Those factors which enable us to be a hub organisation include:


  • The comprehensive and constantly updated information we hold on other services
  • The knowledge bureaux have of their local communities and strong working relationships they have with other organisations
  • The involvement of bureaux in their local communities e.g. in issues specific networks, forums, events, campaigns and so on
  • And the provision of a range of specialist or targeted services at bureaux to complement the core CAB service
  • Search the CAB Community Directory.
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  • Call CAB: 0800 367 222.
  • Free help for Migrants
  • Free help in your language
  • Become a CAB volunteer
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