IPANZ E-Update - 8 August 2023


IPANZ is about connecting people and ideas. One way we do this is through our events. We’ve got some great events lined up in the next few weeks – on 9 August there is a session on the election season and how to navigate the pre- and post- election period, as well as an upcoming webinar on wellbeing (practical ways to look after yourself) on 16 August. And there’s still a few spaces left for Sophie Pascoe’s ‘Dare to Dream’ session on 24 August. See below for details.

Kay Booth, Executive Director


There are strategies everywhere – action on them is less evident

Keynote speaker Sir Bill English told providers of disability services at their annual conference that government wasn't coming to their rescue and to get on with the job themselves. He advised disability service providers to “stop waiting for a white knight” because it's not coming.

He sees an opportunity for families and carers to drive the policy process because of their knowledge of their own lives and what works.

His words might resonate: “there'll be more documents about strategy, there are strategies everywhere … so let's get out of that kind of double public speak stuff because we just keep saying the same things”.

Whaikaha Ministry of Disabled People, which came into effect with the health reforms last year, promises to transform the disability system in line with Enabling Good Lives principles. Sir Bill says progress has been too slow over the past ten years. You can read more about this here

Policy can lead public opinion, if well managed

July saw ten years since the passing of the same-sex marriage legislation in the UK – it represented a “master class in consensus building” by policy makers, according to the UK Institute for Government. At every step of the way, the development of the policy involved the people most against it, as well as those for it. Everyone felt their view was respected and answers were found to build consensus. Support was sustained and grown over time. Read this brief article here.

A challenge on co-governance

Recently reported in the NZ Herald is a speech delivered to the Iwi Communications Collective Communicating for Health Equity by Rob Campbell. It was a message to Māori, but useful for Pākehā too. This section is quoted in full:

  • “I think you are better not to get tangled up in debates over co-governance. For tangata Tiriti there is an obligation to establish governance structures that enable us to act in appropriate Tiriti ways. That is largely our problem. For Māori, I think that asserting mana motuhake is more important. In my governance career I have never encountered a Māori group who was not ready, willing and able to contribute where they are welcome. I have met plenty of Pākehā who are distinctly unwilling to share power. The “co” part is our problem;
  • Don’t be afraid of “disruptive” or “assertive” change. Equity is not something which can be given by those with power. It can only be claimed and asserted and it will by definition be disruptive for those forced to share. Again, it is a Pākehā problem;
  • Culture change is typically a long-term exercise. It took some decades for colonial rule to be imposed in Aotearoa after all. The German physicist Max Planck once said that “science advances one funeral at a time”. Let’s be kind and make that “one retirement” at a time for system culture change. Decolonisation is driven by the colonised calling “time’s up”. I think it is.”

Rob Campbell is known fir his forthright views: these thoughts prompt honest reflection.

Giving deliberative democracy a try

Last year, Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures and Watercare partnered on a citizens’ assembly approach to involve Aucklanders in a decision-making process to debate water care options for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. It shows us that deliberative democracy has the potential to reinvigorate democracy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

There is a specific methodology; however, it requires significant expertise in its design and facilitation. This report should be regarded as an example rather than a recipe. As a public servant in today’s environment of disengagement and misinformation, it is surely worth finding out more about this and other efforts at genuinely engaging people in Aotearoa New Zealand in deliberation on complex issues.

Our cities, and our planning for them, must adapt

There are some challenging ideas here for urban planning across Aotearoa New Zealand in this article focused on Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

The author raises important points. For example:

  • Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s city centre occupies roughly the same amount of land as London’s city centre – which houses 9M people. There is plenty of room for medium- or high-density housing.
  • 16% of Auckland is built on wetland or flood plain: the more we sprawl, the greater the risk of flooding.
  • One in four Aucklanders will be over 65 by 2073.
  • Aotearoa New Zealand has the seventh highest car ownership rate globally – with 884 cars for every 1,000 people. This is not sustainable climate-wise.
  • Potential high migration to Aotearoa New Zealand, driven by climate change, demands that we are prepared to make significant changes to housing and transport in our cities.

Some helpful historical and forward-looking thinking about public service reform

This article from the Institute for Public Policy Research may say much you already know, but some things are worth repeating.

It first analyses the thinking behind the New Public Management theories and makes a number of points. For example:

  • Targets may be good for simple problems but are not helpful for complex ones.
  • Harnessing intrinsic motivation of public servants is more powerful than emphasising extrinsic motivation.

In creating what they call their playbook for public service reform, they list ten shifts. For example:

  • Freeing up the front line.
  • Creating a learning ecosystem.
  • Unleashing technology and data.

Those of you new to the public sector in the last ten years might find this quick summary of past reform ideas helpful. They provoke us to think about how well we are doing so far in Aotearoa New Zealand on their ten recommended actions. 


Wednesday 9 August, 5.30pm: Election Season in the Public Sector: Navigating the Pre- and Post- Election Period - Join us for an evening discussion with three esteemed guests, focusing on the caretaker convention. This timely discussion will particularly help those new to the public sector develop their understanding of the role of the public service in the pre- and post-election period. This event is being hosted in Wellington, with a live stream feed into Auckland where you will also be able to join the discussion, ask questions and network.

Wednesday 16 August, Online, 12.00pm: Skills Consulting Group Work Wellbeing webinar - Improving workplace wellbeing will improve not only workplace satisfaction and effectiveness, it will improve people’s lives. While a wellbeing culture ranks as a top priority for employees, Skills Consulting Group research has found this area to have the largest gaps between employee expectations and the reality.

So, how do we bridge this gap? Join us for this online webinar where Skills Consulting Group takes us through the findings of their Work Wellbeing Index and shows us where to focus. Register here

Thursday 24 August, in person (Wellington) and virtual, 2.00pm: Dare to Dream by Sophie Pascoe - IPANZ is thrilled to announce that we’re hosting Dame Sophie Pascoe, who will be presenting her Dare to Dream programme, powered by Westpac New Zealand. This is a hybrid event, you can attend in person in Wellington, or virtually via Zoom.

Wednesday 20 September, Wellington, all day: Parliament in Practice - We will be holding our final Parliament in Practice seminar for 2023 next month. Designed for departmental and crown entity kaimahi (workers) who are new to the public sector. Register here for a unique opportunity to learn about the operations of Parliament, from those working within Parliament walls and tasked with supporting Parliament. 


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