Friday, 5 August 2016

Getting a full copy of your [Government Department] file

The Privacy Act (1993) in New Zealand allows you access to any material that 'our' government holds on file. 

However, if you are a lay-person like me, you may not know that there are ways of asking for a copy of your file from a government agency. You need to ask in a way that ensures that you get ALL of your materials that the department holds on file under your name. Or in associated files, for that matter. 

Otherwise you might receive a very skimpy file indeed.

It is important to get the wording correct. Otherwise, despite our legislation around privacy and access to information being crystal clear, staff may decide that the department is able to wriggle off the hook.

Why this happens is that department staff may have made notes on your file (which may or may not be objective and professional), or have recorded meetings about you where you were not able to defend yourself against the assumptions which staff have made about you.

Poster 'Flowers' on ACC's Forum suggests the following layout should put you in touch with ALL your information:

[Your full legal name] address & contact details

[Govt Department's] address



(salutation if inclined)

I request under the Privacy Act (1993), the  and the Health Information Privacy Code (1994) that you deliver to me a full and unabridged complete copy of all my case file notes and any other materials held by [Govt Department's] in regard to my files [Govt Department's] and/or its agents hold on myself, no matter the medium it is stored in. (you can be specific here if you know what specifically you require)

These shall include all documentation, letters, faxes, memoranda, notes and reports both internal and external with staff, contracted providers, assessors, courts, minister, or any external agency of any type where communication relating to my case has occurred.

In addition I request under the Privacy Act (1993) that you send me a full and unabridged complete copy of my pathways and any other electronic storage medium records, which contains all screens.

This is to include copies of  Reports, Activity Reports/Logs and the full Service Detail reports and any Financial reports from the the opening of my file to the present day.

This shall include in its entirety that portion of my records that have been archived as a separate file or files. I request that you identify that file(s) that have been archived including both the dates of archive and and dates files were removed from archive.

Please convert all electronic communications to hard copy.

If you chose to withhold any information, please identify the withheld information, state your reasons for withholding the said information and the grounds that support those reasons.

Yours sincerely,

[Your full legal name]

Acknowledgement of Receipt of Above Letter by [Govt Department]
Letter received by: [name of person]
Date received: [Date]
Please forward a copy of this letter with the above acknowledgement completed to myself at the above address.
You can also download a copy of this in a Word document here (just remember to replace all the yellow highlight with your own specific information). I hope you find this useful.




  1. Excellent article. Thanks Sam.. :-)

  2. Cheers John: terrible that you have to be so specific in order to get your own information from our Government though...

  3. Very good to have a sample document that covers all the bases. Thanks for posting, Sam.

  4. Great to have a sample letter that covers all the bases. Thanks for posting, Sam.


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