Designing Services Around New Zealanders' Needs

After five years working in the private sector, Clare Toufexis joined the public sector in 2003 and hasn’t looked back.

Clare says she’s a staunch public servant and doesn’t imagine ever doing work that’s not in service of New Zealanders.

“I think some people get public servants a bit wrong. In my experience, all public servants are working hard, there is real innovation happening in the public sector and drive and ambition for a better future for New Zealanders.

“I know that we are contributing and making a difference and I can quite happily tell people that their taxes are being well spent.”

Clare has worked in a range of public sector roles at Housing New Zealand, the Department of Building and Housing, MBIE and now the Department of Internal Affairs; and has a track record in organisational development and  strategy, service design and cross-agency service integration.

She has worked for DIA for nearly 4 years and has just started a new role  — General Manager Hāpai Hapori / Community Operations.   Hāpai Hapori provides advisory and funding services, aimed at supporting Iwi, Hāpu and community groups in being resilient and achieving their aspirations.

Clare first came into contact with IPANZ when she was asked to present on SmartStart — the award-winning project that she led, which gives New Zealanders integrated access to information and services related to pregnancy, child-birth and the first six years.

With SmartStart, parents can choose which information they wish to share with different agencies when registering their baby, including Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development, to help streamline the services they receive.  The service was developed with extensive consultation with New Zealanders — something that Clare is very proud of.

“We are not just looking to deliver services but to deliver services that make a difference... We spend a lot of time in DIA making sure we are talking to actual New Zealanders and canvassing them for what they actually need.”

Clare says that sort of integrated service delivery designed around New Zealanders needs rather than government agency structures is the future of Government in New Zealand. And she hopes that through her role on the IPANZ Board she can continue to be influential on that.

“I think we have some ways to go to reach the potential of our collective impact. The public sector reforms will take us some way there and then it will require all of us working differently and thinking differently about the impact that we can have together for New Zealanders,” Clare says.

“Any one organisation can do good things but because the events that happen in the lives of New Zealanders are very rarely boxed into one agency’s deliverables it requires all of us working together.

“I am able to be a voice on the IPANZ board for delivering services in the way that the government wants to deliver services in the future — because I already have experience doing that, and while it isn’t easy, it is do-able.”

Wellington born and bred, Clare joined the IPANZ Board in July 2019.

She and her husband Ari have two children — Hannah, 11 and Sophia is 7. Much of their home-life is shaped around Sophia’s needs and challenges (she has a rare form of epilepsy) but Clare also loves to travel and to pamper herself (two interests she will be combining on a trip to New York that has been rescheduled for late this year!)