IPANZ E-Update - 22 April

Kia ora koutou

It isn't often that New Zealanders suggest that a public servant should be the New Zealander of the year, but at the time of writing about 4,300 New Zealanders have signed a petition for Dr Ashley Bloomfield to take that honour.

I am sure Ashley Bloomfield would be the first to acknowledge that he relies on all public servants across the system. He gives us an insight into the best public servants everywhere. In front of the media glare he reveals the cherished qualities of public service: honesty, clarity, responsiveness, learning, using evidence, humility, being unflappable and communicating with warmth and care.

The State Services Commissioner made the appointment of a doctor to lead the Ministry of Health. A wise decision it seems. There may be some agencies in the Public Service where the choice of a person with a related professional background is important, and other agencies where it is less crucial. A matter for future conversation perhaps.

For now, let’s celebrate the public service at its best, and let’s acknowledge that this excellence and leadership is demonstrated across central government, in iwi and hapu, local government, community organisations and much more.

Let us also celebrate that we may see a shift in public attitudes, with more appreciation of the preventative and coordinating role of governments and the public service.

Shenagh Gleisner


Lessons in Leading in a Crisis

Like many of you, we have been reading the multitude of papers coming out about leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are no recipes for how to be a leader: every person leads in their own way and certain leadership styles fit better in certain circumstances. Being authentic is very important.

Some insights that resonated with us from all our reading included:

  • Being open to critique, giving voice to alternate views, correcting as you go — all this is compatible with, and perhaps essential to, decisive leadership. This is strong, not weak.
  • Continually painting the big picture to give meaning, showing a road map that gives hope but does not imply an up-beat picture that all is well. Be honest.
  • Communicate clearly, compassionately, concisely.

We saw an account of the empathy and care shown by many of the global women leaders and will leave you with this image “It’s like their arms are coming out of their videos to hold you close in a heart-felt and loving embrace. Who knew leaders could sound like this? Now we do.”

These two articles explore the intensely human side of leadership:

  • Ruchika Tulshyan has written an article on how to be an inclusive leader for the Harvard Business Review, from which we’ve shared some of our key outtakes here.

Maintaining Trust in Government and Each Other

We are blessed in New Zealand to have high trust in Government. Trust is built up over a long time and lost in an instant. In a crisis where government has unusual powers, even more care is needed to uphold human rights for everyone

Government is using a mix of legal and emergency powers and a softer but powerful force by signalling the social norms of behaviours. Government has also demonstrated the importance of democratic accountability with the establishment of the Epidemic Response Committee.

These interventions could have failed if New Zealand did not have a strong sense of community and social solidarity. The importance of this culture may be one of the most important ingredients contributing to any success we achieve.

We are also fortunate to have our independent watchdogs — crucial agencies such as the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, the Privacy Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission. Their role is vital at all times, but ever more so now.

Some good examples we’ve seen of the work being done by watchdog agencies here and overseas include:

  • The Office of The Auditor-General reported in the Controller Update on 9 April 2020 how they have been working with the Treasury as it manages the challenges to the public finance management system posed by the COVID-19 crisis. You can read the full Controller update at https://oag.parliament.nz/media/2020/controller-april
  • The Ombudsman gives independent oversight of many facilities or services. You may wish to look at the principles for the treatment of detainees during COVID-19, which you can read here.
  • In many parts of the world, abuses of state power are too common. This reality prompted Access Europe and Civil Organisations to prepare this open letter.

Meet the Team

We’ve started a series of articles introducing the team who make things tick at IPANZ.

First up is Kavya Shrivastava, who became an IPANZ New Professionals co-convener last year.

With both parents in the public sector, it was almost inevitable that Kavya would find herself working in the public sector too.

Kavya says she was drawn to becoming involved with the New Professionals as a co-convenor because she wanted to help to foster the network, the sense of belonging, and to host really interesting and useful events.

“It can be a lonely place starting a new job in the public sector and it’s a steep learning curve when it’s your first time. IPANZ is a great way to get those skills that you need and meet people who can help you out. We also host a wide range of events based on what’s happening in the work at that time. These help you stay informed in a very accessible and understandable way — while getting to hang out with lots of people!”

You can read our article about Kavya here.

Celebrating Our Peers

We’ve seen some wonderful examples of best practice coming out of our public sector agencies in recent weeks, which we think deserve celebrating.

So we’re sending virtual bouquets today to:

  • NZ Police for their Covid-19 social media which strikes the perfect balance of informative, educational and fun. Here is one more about the joys of zoom to brighten your day:
  • This song was written for the lockdown, with talented young NZers supported by some Maori public servants at both the Social Wellbeing Agency and Te Mangai Paho and with Manaaki 20.
  • The Office of Ethnic Communities is offering videos in a variety of languages to ensure our diverse communities are receiving crucial messages about Covid-19. Over a dozen videos have been produced so far with more on the way. The videos are available on the Office of Ethnic Communities' YouTube channel.


It could be a while before we will be welcoming all our members to face-to-face events again.

In the meantime we have our Journal, with more in-depth articles, our e-update with more concise gems, and our social media channels including our LinkedIn page with a mix of relevant content.

In addition to this, we are now are offering a series of informative and insightful videos, which we will prepare specifically for you.

In our first video, public sector ICT expert Laurence Millar addresses the very timely and important issue of digital inclusion.

Laurence talks about the challenges of digital inclusion, what is needed, why exclusion happens, and the future beyond Covid-19.

You can view this video here. And access it any time via the events section on website.


This article from Geoff Mulgan’s blog caught our attention. He turns his mind to the future, and especially speaks of what might happen in relation to government once the crisis is over — very much the sorts of things IPANZ thinks about.

As is always the case with Geoff — Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at University College London — we found lots to consider, for example:

  • Radical transparency and the vital importance of the free flow of information
  • Balancing individual privacy and the need to govern data and data sharing in the public interest
  • Anticipatory governance
  • Are we systematically capturing the innovations occurring every day?
  • And, above all, the affirmation of the vital importance of public service and its ethos.

Please Stay in Touch with Us

IPANZ is upping our presence on social media to give you more ways to find out about our events and receive helpful information from us. If you’re not already connected with us, please follow our new page on LinkedIn.

If you found this update useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues. We’re always looking to reach more people with our news, events and insights. If you have friends and colleagues in Christchurch or Auckland, we would be particularly happy to hear from them.

And if you’ve received this update indirectly and would like to sign up to our mailing list, email us at admin@ipanz.org.nz