E-Update - 11 August 2021

Kia ora koutou

The IPANZ conference itself is but one day. But the conversations and challenges will start before, via IPANZ events and e-updates: for example, our Public Sector Journal due out in late August, explores some of the themes such as regulation, young people’s visions and collaboration and a tribute to Ivan Kwok. The conference offers a platform for deeper debate which will be developed in all IPANZ products over the months ahead, hopefully sparking participation and forward-thinking from everyone.

We are busting at the seams for this conference, we are at the capacity for Te Papa. We are working on options to have as many of you as possible to be part of the day, and of course, the ongoing deliberations. You can register for the waitlist here

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


Wellbeing Approaches from Around the World

IPANZ had the pleasure of hosting Professor Arthur Grimes at our AGM. He shared with the audience the various theories underlying wellbeing approaches to budget policy. He noted particularly the value of the subjective wellbeing (SWB) concept.

He also described the experiences in five other countries with wellbeing frameworks. He drew attention to the way in which the Welsh approach had strong accountability mechanisms. He criticized the New Zealand approach for its failure to assist prioritisation

The presentation slides give a succinct summary. Professor Grimes noted that the Treasury are reviewing and refreshing the living standards framework with a particular focus on the indicators. In the next e update we will focus on this so you have a chance to input.

Mastering the Art of Free and Frank Advice

IPANZ has been running an Aspiring Senior Leaders Masterclass over the last four weeks. This has involved numerous outstanding presenters sharing their insights in a generous and frank manner.

One session was on Effective Relationship with Ministers. We referred to a paper written in 2016 for IPANZ by Andrew Kibblewhite (then Chief Executive of DPMC) which contains much wisdom on the subject. “Tell Ministers what they need to hear, not what you think they want to hear” is one piece of advice. “Policy advice needs to be fearless. It needs to be bold in striving for new and different ways of doing things…”

The speakers emphasized the importance of working with the Minister’s staff to ensure the political and policy lines of advice understand each other, but Andrew Kibblewhite notes “ the no go zone for me is when ministerial advisor act in ways that prevent officials independent advice getting through to the Minister”. This paper is worth a read.

Workplace Culture - Your Superpower?

This brief article by Carla Ewin gives five very straightforward questions leaders and managers can use to do what she calls a quick health check. They could well be explored in conversations with your teams. Gathering these opinions and views could help to discern misalignment between the vision for the team’s culture, and the reality.

We have benefitted from the opportunity given by the Mandarin to access its premium content for free to access this article.

COVID-19 Presents Opportunities for Radical Changes ....

There are mixed views on whether the public service is learning enough lessons quickly from COVID-19 and transforming many aspects of public service work as a result. Sir Peter Gluckman talks of “decades-long echoes on mental health and social wellbeing” and we “should be thinking very long-term about the many interrelated consequences of COVID”. This is a quick read, published originally in Newsroom.

....And Specifically from Transactional to Relational Public Services

We offer you a chance to read a more substantive paper from Polly MacKenzie here from Demos, subject to the terms of the Creative Commons. The author describes the way in which the pandemic in the UK has increased need, led to queues and backlogs, increased costs, reduced capacity and resources and changed public expectations. All with far-reaching consequences.

However, the significant conclusion is the benefits of a significant move to an even more relational model of engagement for the public service. This recognizes the extraordinary strengths in community and the speed of mobilisation that were evident during COVID in Aotearoa/New Zealand as well as other parts of the world. The article talks of three sets of relationships, collaboration between the professional and service user, the public service and the community and between citizens. We already have a relational model in many ways, but this article envisions something more radical. It is a long read but valuable.

Evolved Digital Government

We ran an event called Applied Innovation in the Public Sector presented by Sean Audain and Pia Andrews You may like to look at some of the video recording of the talk here. We also have the presentation slides here. A combination of looking at both might work best!

Picking out a few ideas from Pia - she talked about transformation and innovation, saying that transformation is systemic and normalised, innovation is doing something new and a "means for transforming" in other words, not a goal in itself. She said that you have to plan for time and space to innovate, too often the managing of the urgent and what is in front of you crowds out the space of innovation. Worth thinking about the "learned helplessness" that exists in government.

She also talked about leadership saying that seniority is not necessarily superiority, suggesting that that the concept of servant leadership is an idea with promise.

Neither Pia nor Sean said this, but IPANZ wonders if we can achieve digital transformation unless all senior leaders are skilled and comfortable in the digital world?

Find out more about H2R here


New Professionals - An Inquiry on Inquiries

WELLINGTON, Thursday 19 August, 5.30-7.30pm

Have you ever wanted to know more about what government Inquiries actually do? Who works on them? And whether they make a difference?

Join the IPANZ New Professionals for a lively panel discussion on government Inquiries! Light food and refreshments will be provided.

We have an exciting array of panelists joining us for the evening – each playing different roles in government Inquiries

Read about our panelists and register here

New Professionals Social Event

WELLINGTON, Wednesday 25 August, 5.30-7.00pm

IPANZ New Professionals Committee is pleased to be hosting our second social event for 2021!

Everyone is welcome at this event and it is a great chance to meet with peers from across the public sector. The New Professionals Committee will be walking around and happy to chat about our upcoming events. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Snacks will be provided by IPANZ, and drinks will be available for individual purchase from the bar.

Register here

New Professionals - Climate Leadership & Taking Initiative

WELLINGTON, Wednesday 1 September, 5.30-7.30pm

What does it mean to be a leader in the climate change space, and what can organisations and individuals do?

Join the IPANZ New Professionals for a panel discussion on climate change leadership and taking initiative when it comes to climate action. We have an interesting line-up of panellists, who all bring a different perspective and background, and can provide practical tips on what organisations and individuals can do to contribute to a better Aotearoa

Register here

Read more here


History matters, looking back helps us move forward. So often, the challenges of today are ones that have been thoroughly traversed over many years, there are so often profound insights which public servants working today can use.

In the interests of a historical perspective, in relation to the public administration, we go right back to 1914 to take a glimpse at the public sector then in this article written by Tim Shoebridge, produced by the NZ History team.

Just three bits of information to get you thinking

  • “Business operations made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public service. The two trading departments (the Railways and Post and Telegraph departments) provided 43% of government revenue, with Customs bringing in another 28%.”
  • “The public hospital system was maintained by local bodies under government supervision, but the government managed the mental hospital system directly through its Mental Hospitals Department.”
  • “In 1913, most of the public service was put under the control of a Public Service Commissioner. He introduced a service-wide recruitment process, and restricted the public service entry examinations to male candidates”.

Find out more about The Johnson Group here


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