The role of delegates

PSA delegates are at the heart of the way we work. They are elected by members as union leaders in their workplace and are the first point of contact for information and advice.

The PSA invests in skill-development courses for our 3,300 delegates around the country. Many say the skills and confidence they’ve gained as delegates have enhanced their career prospects. Some of New Zealand’s most senior public servants were once PSA delegates.

Delegates play an important role in building the union’s influence at work, whether it’s to do with improving pay and conditions or giving members a collective voice in the decisions that affect their work.


The role of the delegate is to act as a democratic leader and represent PSA members in the workplace. Relationship building is key to the role of a delegate – with members, fellow delegates and with management.

The PSA cannot function without good organisation in the workplace; that is sufficient numbers of members, active participation of members in the PSA, good delegate networks, and good engagement with management. It is delegates who facilitate both organisation and engagement.


PSA Delegate Recruitment Trifold Page 2

Check out our Delegate Recruitment trifold for more information.


Delegates are nominated and elected by their colleagues. 

Click to download and fill out the appropriate form, and return it by email to or post to PSA, PO Box 3817, Wellington, 6140.

PSA Download Icons
PSA Workplace Delegate Form
PSA Download Icons
PSA Site Rūnanga Delegate Form
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PSA National Enterprise Delegate Form
PSA Download Icons
Māori Enterprise Delegate Form

Types of Delegate

Workplace Delegates

Workplace or worksite delegates play lots of different roles depending on their skills, experience, areas of interest and the needs of PSA members in their workplace. 

The PSA relies on our delegates to ensure a good level of organisation in the workplace. We want all workplaces where the PSA is present to have high levels of membership, but numbers alone aren’t enough. Members need to be engaged and empowered to act themselves, and collectively with support from delegates and PSA staff.

The four key elements of the delegate’s role are: communication, organisation, recruitment and empowering members.

Site Rūnanga Delegates 

Site rūnanga delegates are workplace delegates with a primary focus on the representation of Māori members on Māori issues in the workplace although, if necessary, they can represent any member on general workplace issues. They can also vote for the Māori enterprise delegate. As such the role is complementary to the work of general delegates
Elections for Rūnanga Delegates mirrors that of the worksite/Enterprise Delegate except that:

  • They are nominated by Māori Members solely
  • They are elected by Māori Members solely

For more information: Check out the Maranga Mai workbook 2018

National Enterprise Delegates 

Every enterprise should have an enterprise delegate committee that is chaired by a Convenor and is accountable to members in that enterprise and subject to the rules, regulations and policies of the PSA. Enterprise delegate committees may be called by other titles appropriate to the enterprise – for example, several organisations with national scope may use the term National Delegates Committee.

There may be circumstances in which having an enterprise delegate committee is not considered practicable or necessary, for reason such as the size of the enterprise or the level of union membership. The secretariat makes this decision.

The overriding principle concerning the structure of the delegate committee is that it should be appropriate for the enterprise concerned.

Māori Enterprise Delegates

The Māori enterprise delegate is a Māori member elected by Māori members in an enterprise, to represent the interests of Māori members within that enterprise and to provide a connection with the wider structures of Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina and the PSA. 

The Māori enterprise delegate is focused not only on issues within the enterprise but also the governance structures of Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina and the PSA.
Within the enterprise the main role of the Māori enterprise delegate is to represent the interests of Māori members to the general delegate structures and the employer.

For more information: Check out the Maranga Mai workbook 2018

  • Encourage people to join the union
  • Keep members up to date with union news
  • Help develop a collective view on workplace and bargaining issues
  • Help resolve workplace problems
  • Involve members in workplace decisions
  • Represent members’ views to management
  • Support members who ask for help
  • Link between members and organisers
  • Make the union visible in the workplace
  • Facilitate union meetings
  • Connect to wider delegate networks

PSA organisers are there to support delegates and provide information, advice and guidance.

The union also provides an extensive delegate development programme, opportunities to meet and discuss issues, and extensive information resources.

There is plenty of evidence to show that employers also benefit from a strong, collective union voice. It improves the work environment and this in turn enhances productivity and the quality of services.

The PSA works to support delegates by:

  • establishing regular delegate meetings;
  • encouraging members and employers to value and respect the work of the delegate;
  • being clear about the roles and responsibilities of delegates, including the plans and priorities of the union in a particular enterprise and the roles of national delegates on sector committees;
  • ensuring delegate structures enable direct engagement with the employer’s management structures, and that delegates have clear constituencies;
  • getting appropriate delegate facilities clauses in collective agreements – including time release;
  • ensuring delegate development and training needs are identified and met (by the PSA delegate  development team ) so that skills and competence are achieved and practiced;
  • encouraging delegates to operate effectively as a group, supporting each other.