Begun in 1870 in response to the rapid growth and development of New Zealand at the time the Public Works Department functions consisted of such things as immigration, railway construction, roads, electric power supply, housing, building controls and unemployment relief.
The Public Works Act 1928 brought the Public Works Department and the Ministry of Works into a single unit, and at that stage the responsible Minister was known as the Minister of Works, while the head of the department was the Commissioner of Works.
The department was re-named the Ministry of Works and Development in 1973, with the Minister of Works and Development having responsibility for it.
The Ministry of Works and Development was abolished in 1988 when it became the Consultancy Division of the State-Owned-Enterprise Works and Development Services Corporation NZ Limited.
The Division became a separate subsidiary in 1992 known as Works Consultancy Services Ltd. Works Consultancy Services was sold to Kinta Kellas of Malaysia in November 1996. The Company’s name changed to Opus International Consultants Limited in April 1997.