IPANZ E-Update - 23 June 2020

The word “bureaucracy” is often used about the public service, and sometimes with pejorative overtones.

It can imply excessively complicated administrative procedures; the term “faceless bureaucrats” is not uncommon. But surely this stereotype has been countered during the past three months. Maybe the image of the public service now also embodies agility, flexibility, collaboration and responsiveness to New Zealanders, alongside the image of being calm, wise, steady and evidence-based.

What has the public service learnt? Can speed and agility now personify our responses without forgetting the importance of giving time, precision and detailed thought to issues that merit a slower, more deliberate process? Is collaboration across departments, central and local government and public sector, communities and business only relevant in crises? Not at all. Can we stop doing things that we thought were crucial, or will we learn that business as usual has been too neglected?

IPANZ looks forward to seeing how all players in the system, especially the leaders, are going to preserve and expand the great things that have been learnt.

Status quo is very powerful and there will be a danger we revert back to all those things with which we are familiar, but that would be an opportunity lost.

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


Engaging Young People in Policy and Practice Development

As Creative HQ Innovation Specialist Sally Hett says in this think piece “young people will be disproportionately affected by decisions made today”. They need a voice in public sector deliberations. Sally introduces a few examples and links to get us all thinking about how we might go about better engagement with young people.

You can read about these ideas on our website here

Learnings from the Lockdown

Kate Prickett from Victoria University was part of a team that conducted a “life under lockdown” survey of over 2,000 New Zealanders. In this data snapshot she focusses on the impact on working parents.

The full results are being presented tomorrow. Have a look at our events notice below.

Voices from Canterbury

As public servants, our role in New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from Covid-19 presents many challenges but also many opportunities. How effectively we respond will, at least in some part, be determined by how well we learn from the experiences of the past.

In the latest issue of our Journal, we talk to people with different roles in the Canterbury region, about the lessons they have learnt about responding to crisis and trauma that could help to shape our future responses.

The article is brimming with wonderful insights and well worth a read. A few thoughts to whet your appetite:

  • “Working together is much more efficient, but it’s also quite comforting — nobody’s got all the answers and we have a much better chance of getting the right outcome together.” — Ben Clark, Department of Corrections
  • “We need to be really cautious of taking a paternalistic approach — it creeps in unconsciously in approaches that imply some programme or agency is going to look after our communities, when the truth is that communities look after themselves.” — Jim Palmer, Waimakariri District Council
  • There’s no way forward without the environment being part of that. We’ve been given quite an amazing opportunity to reconsider the contribution we’re making to its destruction” — Gabrielle Huria, Ngai Tuahuiri hapu.

You can read this article on our website here

Technology Change, Pandemics, and the Future of Work

Nicholas Green from the Productivity Commission considers the potential impact on our workplaces from Covid-19, building on the work of the Commission into Technological change and the future of work. You can read the article here.

Nicholas lays out a range of economic impacts if New Zealanders retain the preferences for doing things more online. He focusses specifically on how the public sector should think about the issues, and opportunities in all portfolios to improve resilience and service productivity.

The final question in this article asks if Covid-19 could be the shock that sees New Zealand finally lift its game in technology adoption. Let us hope so. Let us also remember, as Nicholas says, that humans are essentially social, so technological adoption will always go alongside face-to-face connection.

Inclusion from Within

In our Journal this month, Anjum Rahman from the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono, wrote an opinion piece for us. It challenges us to think and talk about how the culture and operating models of the public service need to change to become inclusive. In this brief video, she emphasises that the change is quite fundamental to our system, and she asks us to talk together about how to make it happen. The Public Service Act could be a catalyst for this change.

Emotional Intelligence

It is clear that the world needs more emotional intelligence to navigate our collective challenges. Furthermore, all teams work better with members who understand and manage their own emotions well.

We are pleased to be able to introduce you to a concise and well-researched model on this subject, which will help you to consider your own emotional intelligence. It is hard to fully assess oneself, but it will get you thinking and you can always seek further assistance to more deeply understand yourself and make changes if you wish to.

Our Executive Director Shenagh met with Shawn Cornet of Co.star Consulting and had a chat with him about emotional intelligence. Have a look at this conversation here

And do dig into the framework which he introduces to us, which you can find here.

Keeping You Informed on the Progress of the Public Service Legislation Bill

SSC provided us with a brief update on progress with the public service legislation, which you can read here.

Meet the Team

Joan Smith has served IPANZ on and off for close to 50 years — starting out as a local committee representative while working at Lands and Survey in the 70s. She has served twice as President of IPANZ, first in 1985 and then in 1999 and 2000. In 2006 Joan was made a Life Member of IPANZ. Today she is Treasurer of IPANZ.

We have profiled her fascinating career as a trail-blazer for women in the public service in our latest article on the people who make IPANZ tick. You can read about her here.


Effective Engagement with Māori Workshop –

This two-day workshop is designed to help public servants gain a greater understanding of Te Ao Māori (Māori world view) and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and provides practical tools and techniques for effectively engaging with Māori.

The establishment of Te Arawhiti – The Office for Māori Crown Relations, demonstrates the government’s commitment to building strong, ongoing and effective relationships with Māori across all of government. Engagement will go beyond consultation to true partnership. This is your opportunity to grow your capability in engaging with Māori. Dates and locations as follows:

  • 22 & 29 July, Wellington – 6 places have just come available on this workshop. You can read more and register here – be in quick to secure your place!


Life Under Lockdown: How Did New Zealanders Experience Lockdown in Terms of Well-Being, Family Functioning and the Labour Market?
Wednesday 24 June, 12.30-1.30pm, Wellington

Dr Kate Prickett, Director of the Roy McKenzie Centre for the Study of Families and Children, and Drs Michael Fletcher and Simon Chapple, of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, discuss the results of the “Life under lockdown survey” of over 2000 New Zealanders, collected by Colmar Brunton during the Level 4 lockdown.

You can read more here and RSVP for this event to igps@vuw.ac.nz


Digital Threats to Democracy

It will be no surprise that our minds are turning to the election in September. IPANZ does not engage in political debate; our focus is the public administration system and public sector professionals. The health of the democracy matters to the system and people working in it.

The Workshop along with the Law Foundation and Luminate undertook a research project called Digital Threats to Democracy. The executive summary is a concise read. Although it was completed in 2019, it contains information that remains relevant.

The authors note three core problems presented by digital media to challenge democracy:

  • Platform monopolies: two or three corporations controlling content and means of communication
  • Algorithmic opacity: influencing our attitudes based on predicting what we already think and therefore solidifying our prejudices
  • Attention economy: the amplification of content without taking any responsibility for its impact on our well being.

They move on to consider potential solutions, exploring the evidence about what works to diminish the power of platforms, the proliferation of fake news, overcoming filter bubbles and echo chambers, reducing hate speech and improving critical thinking.

An Initiative in Finland

In relation to the improvement of critical thinking (which assists citizens to recognise fake news and distortions) there have been interesting initiatives in Finland, starting in 2014, to improve critical thinking to assist young people to understand the environment and change their behaviours. You can read about this here.

Stay in Touch with Us

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