I write this on my lunch break from our ‘Effective Engagement with Māori’ workshop – I am learning so much! – which has added a whole new dimension to my reading of our first article about tokenism and te reo Māori…. I’ll let you decide what you think about this topic. The Auditor-General’s concerns about public accountability is attracting debate – and there’s a lot else besides in this E-Update – I think there’s something for everyone.
And yes – we will be running ‘Effective Engagement with Māori’ workshops in 2023 as well as our popular one-day seminar ‘Parliament in Practice'. We’ll let you know dates once we confirm them.
Kay Booth, Executive Director
Earlier this year Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan objected to the tokenistic use of te reo Māori in government departments.
In this article here in The Conversation, Carl Mika expresses caution about the overuse and inappropriate use of the reo Māori. He explains that the “translated” English text in law and policy will emphasise measurable, tangible things, whereas te reo terms always refer to intangible worlds and abstract dimensions as well.
Carl Mika suggests that we would simply advise policymakers and legislators to use English terms if they are referring to a non-Māori worldview. To recommend NOT to use the reo Māori, might seem unthinkable for many, given the push to use it at every opportunity to ensure its survival. But it would also be the face of a deeper mission to ensure the use of te reo Māori accords with a Māori worldview.
What you have told us about working in the public service
In September we asked you what you thought about working in the public service – thanks to everyone who completed the survey we sent out.
Here’s a preview of some initial high-level findings about what public servants think in 2022…
About their workplace:
- Satisfaction with their work-life balance – 59% reporting being satisfied or very satisfied, 26% dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, and 15% neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
- Most said they have a good or very good working relationship with their colleagues (90%) and their direct manager (80%).
- Many had found their work stressful in the last 12 months – sometimes (42%), often (42%) or always (7%) – with 9% reporting never or hardly ever finding their work stressful.
About bullying and harassment:
- In the past 12 months, 22% reported having been personally bullied or harassed in their workplace (comprising 17% ‘now and again’ and 5% ‘more frequently than now and again’).
- Most people who had been bullied or harassed did not report it (63%).
- The main two reasons given for not reporting were that they did not think any constructive action would be taken, and it was not worth the hassle of going through the report process.
Further results are available here including what people said about the public service principles of politically neutrality, free and frank advice, merit-based appointments, open government and stewardship.
A compelling critique of the New Zealand accountability system
The Auditor-General has written a set of articles about the importance of the government and the public sector demonstrating that they are accountable to New Zealanders. He sees a diminution in accountability to the public, declining trust from Māori, and a need for comprehensive and accessible reporting flowing from good monitoring and evaluation. This article here sums up some of his key points in his plea for a first principles review of the way accountability operates. This is a matter for deep reflection for public servants.
A largely positive report card on the New Zealand COVID approach
Just after the last COVID restrictions were lifted, The Spinoff presented a set of seven charts on a range of measures to compare the impact of New Zealand’s approach with other comparable countries. As the authors say “on the whole, we should all be collectively proud of how we confronted this generation-defining challenge”. That was by no means to suggest we managed it perfectly, but the sum total of our efforts during the pandemic was easily among the world’s most successful.
And yet the critique of the Prime Minister, in particular, has been intense, and from some sources, it has become viciously personalised, even though she would have acted on advice from many sources including public servants. The critique is primarily about the restriction of freedom implicit in lock downs and mandates. People care about their rights, and public servants will be dwelling on this for the future. Perhaps we can approach a potential future COVID response (should it be required again) somewhat differently, focussing on safety and trust. Read about this here.
How can we possibly allow this glaring inequity to continue?
There is a documentary called Need versus Greed on TVNZ. Read about it here. It argues that white collar crime is far more damaging than the crimes of the poor, like ram raids. When we talk “tough on crime” we are not talking about fraud and tax avoidance. While welfare fraud is publicly perceived as a major problem, the annual $26 million loss is nothing compared to the estimated $5-7 billion of tax avoidance each year.
Even more stunning, with an average tax fraud of $287,000, offenders have a 22% chance of receiving a prison sentence, but for the average welfare fraud of $67,000, 60% of offenders are likely to be sentenced.
While the numbers of reported burglaries, robberies and drug offences are slowly trending down, white-collar crimes like fraud and scams are rising.
Have we got our priorities right? Far from it. The inequities are stark.
Valuing experts as guides not masters – strengthening democracy
According to the 2020 world values survey, nearly four in ten Kiwis (about 38.5%) think it would be good to have “experts, not governments, make decisions”.
This seems to be because people see the flaws in democracy. Of course, democracies could work better but Max Rashbrook argues we need far more democracy not less.
For example, since climate change will require us to rethink the way we eat, move around, build houses and pay taxes, we cannot hand control for decisions over to unelected experts. We all need to be involved, deeply involved, locally, regionally and nationally.
There are clear ways to strengthen our democracy. All countries, including New Zealand, could emulate the Welsh Assembly, whose future generations commissioner speaks up on behalf of those not yet born with intense engagement with communities. It is an institutional arrangement, amongst others, that we could consider.
We have to learn to use experts in the right way: as guides for citizens, not as their masters. Read the article here.
Westpac Financial Wellbeing Series
VARIOUS DATES IN DECEMBER • FREE • ONLINE
We'd like to attract your attention to the next online 'Managing Your Money' webinars from Westpac - with the special topic of the Housing Market from Nick Goodall, Head of Research from CoreLogic, who will give his views on what happened in 2022 and a look at what might happen in 2023.
Understanding debt: Tuesday 6 Dec. 11am-12pm --- Click here to register.
Buying your first home: Thursday 8 Dec. 11am-12pm --- Click here to register.
Managing your mortgage: Tuesday 13 Dec. 11am-12pm --- Click here to register.
The housing market update: Thursday 15 Dec. 11am-12pm --- Click here to register
A tribute to Helen Kelly
The recent passing into law of the Fair Pay Agreements Bill is the legacy of a passionate union leader who was driven to uphold the rights and dignity of workers. This article is a tribute to a remarkable woman, Helen Kelly, and a description of her contribution to this landmark legislation, six years after her death. (from Stuff)
If you have time, and also enjoy Don McGlashan’s song “Anchor Me” – why not look at this? He sang at Helen’s memorial service and this youtube clip click here contains some very moving pictures of a New Zealand heroine, Helen Kelly.
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