IPANZ E-Update - 6 June 2023


Kia ora

This e-update illustrates the diverse matters that public sector professionals turn their minds to every day, for example – politics, influence and advice, the collection and use of data, and the future of the workforce to name a few.

We are also letting you know about two upcoming events that IPANZ are hosting for those new to the public sector, as well as lots of opportunities for kaimahi (workers) in the public sector to connect with their colleagues.

This e-update really covers some vital issues! – do enjoy it.

Kay Booth, Executive Director


Making sense of politicisation in the Public Service

Politicisation is when partisan considerations get into the advice and operations of a non-partisan public service. Richard Shaw and Chris Eichbaum present a very helpful conceptualisation of politicisation, outlining three types: formal, functional, and administrative. This article from the upcoming Public Sector Journal helps us dig into the ideas further.

The authors say that there are demand and supply sides to the issue. Politicisation is not just something that is done to public servants: it can also be something officials engage in themselves. Just two examples worth discussing; ”It may be that the institutional predisposition is reactive and risk averse” and “we tend to manage upwards”.

Ensuring public service “agency”

Here is a report from Australia on some research exploring public service “agency”, a term used carefully to describe the inherent capacity of the public service to influence government policy through its advice.

The research found senior managers thought that ministers welcome ideas, but this was dependent on mutual trust and the public service commitment to expertise and evidence.

The research also showed that junior staff do not feel a sense of agency, as senior managers tended to block their ideas. More junior staff also felt that senior managers did not push back enough against ministers. Is this true in New Zealand?

As the authors conclude ”Establishing and maintaining the legitimate agency of public servants and their organisations is not a ‘set and forget’ action; it is a constant process that requires judgement and leadership and goes well beyond codes and rules, important though those are.”

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A comprehensive picture of the future of jobs

The World Economic Forum has recently published the Future of Jobs Report 2023. Here is a brief summary of the key findings, which include:

  • Big data, cloud computing, and AI feature highly on likelihood of adoption. More than 75 per cent of companies are looking to adopt these technologies in the next five years.
  • Large-scale job growth is expected in education, agriculture, and digital commerce and trade. The largest losses are expected in administrative roles and in traditional security, factory, and commerce roles.
  • Analytical thinking and creative thinking remain the most important skills for workers in 2023. This is followed by resilience, flexibility, motivation, curiosity, and lifelong learning.

The importance of Māori data sovereignty

Sometimes concepts or terms become widely used without people being brave enough to ask what they really mean, and why they matter. Māori data sovereignty might be one such concept.

In this article, author Ngapera Riley takes us back to the core belief that Māori data is a taonga. She describes the steps every agency and public servant can, and should, take when collecting and using Māori data, while also providing straightforward context as to why we should do this. A very helpful article.

Taking care of front line staff – for example home support workers

Platform technologies, or care apps, for Home Support Workers are on the rise in New Zealand due to their purported increased efficiencies. And it is claimed that the use of care apps could release resources for higher pay to Home Support Workers. However, this article suggests the situation may be more complex.

A survey of Home Support Workers was not reassuring. The workers found, for example, that rosters would be changed via care apps without discussion, that they could not speak to their bosses easily, and there was additional burden put upon them.

As the writers point out, home care is highly varied, personal, and “messy”. It is vital that clients and workers voices are properly engaged when technology is designed and introduced.

Can we ensure redress to those who suffered from abuse in care?

No public servant could listen to the testimonies from the Abuse in Care Commission without deep distress. As Coral Shaw said, “the scale of abuse is beyond what anyone had ever imagined at the start of this inquiry”. This article expresses concern that redress to those who suffered from abuse in care is still not progressing. The author suggests three things:

  1. “To protect our children today, we must enshrine the right of the child to be free from abuse into statute. In doing so we would make institutions criminally liable for abuse in care”
  2. “We must open a way through the courts for civil proceedings” (the State and Church have strong arguments against this) “But without the courts being open, there is no check or balance in the system to ascertain what fair financial redress actually is”
  3. “The government needs to make good on the intent of the royal commission’s rapid redress recommendation and set out a clear path forward for urgent redress for survivors, who have been through previous redress processes that we now know to be patently unfair”

What do you think?


  • 4 July: IPANZ New Professionals: Meet the Chiefs Breakfast series (Wellington) - Join the IPANZ New Professionals Leadership Team for a light breakfast and the opportunity to meet with Mervin Singham – Chief Executive, Ministry for Ethnic Communities.
  • 11 July: Parliament in Practice - Designed for departmental and crown entity kaimahi (workers) who are new to the public sector. Join us next month for a unique opportunity to learn about the operations of Parliament, from those working within Parliament walls and tasked with supporting Parliament.


Women in Public Service Summit 2023

Sign up to the Women in Public Service Summit 2023 to celebrate this year's theme "together again" with a day of inspiration, learning and reflection, the perfect mid-year boost!

This event offers the chance to connect kanohi ki te kanohi at the TSB arena, Wellington. In addition to concurrent sessions, keynote addresses and practical workshops the programme includes a Chief Executive Panel featuring:

  • Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone, Secretary for Pacific Peoples and Chief Executive, Ministry for Pacific Peoples
  • Megan Main, Chief Executive ACC
  • Karen Chang, Chief Executive Serious Fraud Office

Westpac Financial Wellbeing Series

Westpac invites you to join their Managing Your Money team for their June series, including an economic update where they will have Michael Gordon – Senior Economist at Westpac NZ giving his insights into the economy, breaking down the headline news and a look at the remaining half of the year. 

  • Session One: Spending & budgeting, Tuesday, 13 June. 11am-12pm. Register here.
  • Session Two: Weathering the storms, Thursday, 15 June. 11am-12pm. Register here.
  • Session Three: Preparing for the future, Tuesday, 27 June. 11am-12pm. Register here.
  • Session Four: The Economic update, Thursday, 29 June. 11am-12pm. Register here.

Democratic innovation: why we need it and how we can do it

Trust Democracy and Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures invite you to a webinar to learn from two world experts on democratic innovation. The webinar will explore the potential of citizens’ assemblies and Polis to include and empower the public in agenda setting and problem solving. Register here to learn from Art O’Leary, who is responsible for the Irish Citizens Assembly, and Colin Megill, who co-created Polis, one of the most promising online platforms for large-scale public discussions that are safe, productive and insightful.

GOVIS 2023 Digital Resilience

GOVIS are running a conference on Digital Resilience that will look at how we can build institutional and personal resilience in the face of recent challenges like climate change-induced floods, a pandemic, loss of social cohesion, and cyber attacks.

So can attend in person and reconnect with your colleagues, or tune in online. GOVIS have a special offer for anyone who brings along a plus one. Here are some programme highlights:

  • Resilience and security – featuring Michael Jagusch National Cyber Security Centre
  • From customer service to crisis recovery – featuring Damon Rees Better as Usual (and former head of Service NSW)
  • Security and sovereignty in the cloud (panel) – featuring Dr Te Taka Keegan (Waikato University), Louisa Joblin (Duncan Cotterill), Don Christie (Catalyst IT) and Phil Pennington as chair (RNZ)


If you found this e-update useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues. We're always looking to reach more people with our news, events and insights. If you have friends and colleagues outside of Wellington, we would be particularly happy to hear from them.

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