Panui Hiko - 15 September

Kia ora koutou

With the plethora of fascinating information relevant for the public service available, it is always a challenge (and pleasure) to decide what to share with you.

We take notice of ideas from our members and this week we have included a lighthearted article about “nudging” which we found in a source recommended by one reader. Thanks!

The Public Service Act is top of mind as we move into implementation. In this e-update, collaboration and stewardship are at the forefront, and we will pursue these two subjects in multiple ways in the next six months.

In the “what we are reading section”, we quote the work by Koi Tū on capacity in the public sector to do futures work, and the future challenges for the public sector. We link to the full paper.

We also give you a good framework for thinking about futures.

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


All Westminster Systems Confront the Principle of Ministerial Responsibility

Recently we shared a brief explanation of ministerial responsibility. On that subject, you may have followed the challenges in the UK system around the exam fiasco and the Public Health England failures. Two very senior public servants resigned from the education sector and official structures were dismantled in the health sector.

In this blog from the Institute of Government the author briefly describes the circumstances. Two quotes struck us as particularly relevant:

“requiring a permanent secretary [the equivalent of a public service CE] to step down does not remove the responsibility from Minister” and

“taking responsibility is not the same as achieving effective accountability …. When it works well, accountability is not just about apportioning blame, but promoting improvement in how government works, promoting citizens’ confidence in their government and increasing the wider legitimacy of the public sector”.

Nudging and Social Marketing

Our members have shown some interest in the notion of “nudging”. Writers on this subject point out that there are multiple forces impacting decision making. People make decisions for example by habit, or impulse, irrational or rational thinking. Experts argue that it is possible to use nudges to influence behaviour but that individual nudges might not be sufficient to create more extensive social change.

This article gives some nice examples of effective nudges — you will be able to think of more that influence your behaviour. It also describes an effective social marketing campaign in Thailand focusing on family planning and HIV/Aids prevention, with a many references to condoms, which won a Gates award for population health.

This short article might make you think (both positively and negatively!) about the public service role in encouraging social change.

Co-Design and Enabling Innovation in the Public Sector

The co-design process for the Healthy Homes initiative in Auckland was a collaboration between the Southern Initiative, the Ministry of Health and many other partners.

This case study clearly illustrates a co-design process that underpinned the initiative. However, it is fundamentally a story about building relationships. It is not principally about applying a methodology — it is about relating differently.

Key steps in the process included:

  • Multiple stakeholders producing ideas, all shared with the families involved
  • Then protyping using a "safer to try, safer to fail approach"
  • And then testing, learning and experimentation - "learning by doing"

Some vital drivers of success included:

  • A profound shift in power dynamics to whanau and frontline workers
  • A relentless commitment to the outcomes that mattered to whanau
  • A space for learning outside the traditional contract structures
  • Funding enabling the build of capacity for people to operate differently
  • Local government enabled to act as an effective innovation partner

This was a challenge that was beyond the capacity or responsibility of any one organisation. With our new legislation it is ever more important that public sector professionals learn about what underlies success. This process took place up to 2018 and the positive impacts two years later include:

  • whānau are at the centre of decision-making
  • links between different parts of the housing and health sectors are strengthened
  • work with private landlords and property managers to achieve outcomes

Connections with Strangers ("weak ties"), Improves Well-being

We know the positive value of close and supportive relationships with our family, whanau, and friends. What is less well known is the positive impact on wellbeing of what is called "weak ties" — those encounters with the person who serves you coffee or that smile and quick exchange with the person on the bus. Lockdown and social distancing have diminished opportunities for these encounters, and could be contributing to increased depression, loneliness and even physical illnesses.

Is the value of “weak ties” built into various areas of policy making at a central and local government level? This brief article from the Bennett Institute in Cambridge outlines the evidence.

Keeping the Public's Trust and Confidence

The Auditor-General writes eloquently on public accountability with a focus on the trust and confidence of New Zealanders in the public service. It is legitimacy and buy-in from New Zealanders that gives the public service licence to operate.

He also focusses on stewardship in the public service legislation and how public accountability could change accordingly; and he asks the public service to show how it is achieving outcomes for New Zealanders.

These are matters of great interest to IPANZ, so Shenagh Gleisner recently spoke with the Auditor General to explore these topics for the latest issue of the Public Sector Journal. You can read that interview here.

Also from the Public Sector Journal ...

The latest issue of the Public Sector Journal has some great articles on important topics such as: establishing a regulatory profession in the public service; artificial intelligence in the public sector; the journey to enhance cultural competence; and much more. We hope you’re enjoying dipping into it!

Anyone who is employed at any of our member agencies is entitled to the benefits of being a member of IPANZ, including receiving the Public Sector Journal.

So if you’re part of a member organisation and haven’t received your electronic copy, email us at and we’ll add you to our database.

Not sure if your organisation is a member? Check the list of member organisations on our website.

Find out more about H2R here


Public Sector Reputation 2020 - WEBINAR, 22 September, 12.30-1.30pm

The reputations of public sector agencies reached record highs as the COVID-19 crisis struck earlier this year, according to the Colmar Brunton annual Public Sector Reputation Index. However, we know how quickly reputation can be lost, particularly if agencies fail to deliver positive experiences at a time of unprecedented demand.

In this session, Edward Langley, Colmar Brunton Research Director, will discuss what the study showed New Zealanders think are the most important factors for shaping high Public Sector reputation. He will also talk about how the public are responding differently in the post-lockdown environment, including their openness to, and scrutiny of, Public Sector messaging.

We will also hear from Rhys Jones, Chief Executive of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ). FENZ took the top spot in 2020 for the fifth year running. It is rated most highly overall, and across each of the four pillars that shape reputation — trust, social responsibility, leadership, and fairness. This comes at a time, however, when the service is under scrutiny for bullying and harassment.

Find out more and register here.

Caring for our Communities - An All of Government Response to COVID-19, Wellington, 1 October, 1.00-2.00pm

New Zealand has moved swiftly to eliminate the Covid-19 pandemic and its potentially disastrous impacts on the country and its people. A part of the all of government response was a workstream called Caring for Communities, to provide important information and effective support to individuals, whānau and communities at greater risk of experiencing adverse health, social or economic outcomes as a result of the pandemic.

In this session, our speakers will talk about how the response team worked through identifying the communities that needed help, what they understood the communities were experiencing during Covid-19 and what support was required, and how the nationwide response was mobilised.

Speakers from the Office of Ethnic Communities, Immigration New Zealand and the Caring for Communities team will talk about how they worked with their networks to support them with information and resources responsive to the needs of specific communities.

Find out more and register here.

Using Artificial Intelligence - Understanding and Applying, Wellington, 22 October, 12.00-1.00pm

Talking to someone who can make a complex subject clear and simple is a treasure. Hearing Sean Audain talk about AI and the associated technologies is an example of this clarity. IPANZ have therefore asked Sean to talk with our members about the application of AI in the public sector. He will be joined by people in the public sector who have used these technologies to increase impact, and enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

This will be largely an interactive event – we will send you a paper written by Sean before the event so you can familiarise yourselves with some of the terms, concepts and risks. There will be lots of time for you to ask questions, dig into what AI might mean for you and how these technologies might be applied in your setting.

Find out more and register here.

How NZ Police are Winning with Social Media - available on video

NZ Police have more than 1.7 million social media followers, and have gained national and global attention with the tone and style of their content. IPANZ members recently had the opportunity to hear about how they manage that, and we now have a full recording from that event available on our YouTube page, which you can watch here.

Find out more about The Johnson Group here


Koi Tū has released its discussion paper, titled The Future Is Now: Implications of COVID-19 for New Zealand, which focuses on the long-term challenges and opportunities posed by this hugely disruptive crisis, and how New Zealand’s future can be shaped in an informed and inclusive way.

Koi Tū is the Māori name for the Centre for Informed Futures. The founders of this think-tank express their gratitude to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for gifting this name, which encapsulates the intent of the Centre.

You may wish to look at the full discussion paper, which raises issues sector by sector. However, with IPANZ's particular emphasis on the public sector we note very briefly the following:

Page 13: New Zealand will need to look at its capabilities and capacities in foresighting and horizon scanning (outside security and related areas) that might have allowed for better preparation of various sectors for the transformative changes now necessary in the face of major disruption.

Page 17; …. New Zealand has few institutions designed for both the informed foresight and the inspired visioning conversations that are needed now more than ever.

On page 17 the authors list some key questions for the public sector, a few of which we note here:

The crisis will promote reflection, changes and innovation in the public service, just as it is doing in other sectors. In particular, it will hold many lessons, and questions for the policy community. For example,

  • Are the methods of sharing and integrating information between siloed ministries and agencies optimal?
  • Did we have the right inputs at the right time from the right experts, both from across government and beyond?
  • Is there a need to institutionalise private sector liaison approaches?
  • Are there trusted data and digital governance oversight arrangements for the public sector, such that the needed data can be accessed and utilised to the best extent possible?
  • What problematic procedures and habits of policymaking have been brought to light during the crisis, and what needs to be overhauled in the post-COVID world?

And how to begin to push our thinking about the future? We are grateful to Stephanie Pride for sharing with us a framework which will get your creative and intellectual juices flowing in thinking about future work. It focusses on futures terminology.

You can see the framework here, with notes expanding on each of the areas. We hope to share with you a video with Stephanie talking about the framework in the very near future.

ANZSOG - Education and Research Contribution

Public sector professionals in New Zealand are fortunate to have agencies dedicated to supporting professional development. The work of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) complements the work of IPANZ with its overall mission of supporting outstanding public sector leadership. ANZSOG runs a range of high quality education programmes aimed to enhance public sector management, which have been adapted to suit the current restrictions on travel. For example, applications are now open for several of ANZSOG's programmes, including the Executive Master of Public Administration and there are a number of specific workshops and resources available, many of which focus on leadership through crises. ANZSOG has good research backing to inform their resources, such as their research translation series, The Bridge. IPANZ is pleased to promote these training and development resources to you.

Find out more at