State Services Commissioner and Head of State Services and Chief Executive
“I strongly believe in the ideal of public service and I have devoted the whole of my working life to it. It is a privilege to serve as State Services Commissioner.” Peter Hughes
Peter started at the State Services Commission in July 2016. He has had a career spanning more than thirty-five years in various roles across the state sector, most recently serving as Secretary for Education from 2013.
Peter began his career as a clerk with the Department of Social Welfare. He was promoted through policy and operational leadership positions before entering executive level management in the New Zealand Income Support Service. He then served as Deputy Director-General of Health, Chief Executive of the Health Funding Authority and Secretary for Internal Affairs.
In 2001 he was appointed Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand's largest government department. He held this role for ten years before becoming Professor of Public Management and Head of the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington from 2011 to 2013.
Peter attended Victoria and Massey Universities and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, completed while studying as a Harkness Fellow of the Commonwealth Fund of New York.
He is a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management and of the New Zealand Institute of Public Administration. In 2010 Peter was made a Hunter Fellow for services to Victoria University, and he is also a Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.
Peter was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012 for services to the State, and in 2013 was voted Wellingtonian of the Year in the Government category.
Deputy State Services Commissioner
Helene started her public service career as a frontline worker in the Department of Social Welfare. She went on to develop a career in the Department and then in the Ministry of Social Development where she finished her time as a Deputy Chief Executive in 2007. From 2007 to 2012 Helene was a Deputy Commissioner with the State Services Commission responsible for chief executive and agency performance in the Justice and Security sectors. Helene was appointed Secretary of Defence in 2012 and completed her term of office in June 2019. She was appointed Deputy State Services Commissioner in July 2019.
Helene became a companion of the Queen Service Order in 2019. She holds a Masters in Strategic Studies from Victoria University.
Deputy Commissioner | Strategy & Policy
“I am motivated by a desire to connect thinking and problem-solving across government to deliver better results for New Zealanders.” Hannah Cameron
Hannah joined the SSC in April 2018, having previously held the role of Deputy Chief Policy Officer at the Ministry of Health.
Hannah came to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 2004, in search of a home where she could continue to work at the centre of policy-making and democracy, but also have easy access to the great outdoors. She found Island Bay, Wellington, and has not looked back since. She believes that New Zealand can be a wonderful place to raise a family, and is frustrated that not all New Zealanders have equal access to a safe and fulfilling life.
Hannah has worked in the New Zealand public service for 14 years in government departments that also include the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice and Department of Internal Affairs. During that time, she has worked on policy issues as varied as family violence, organ donation, special education and medicinal cannabis, building a strong network of colleagues across government.
Hannah grew up in Nottingham, has a MA in social and political sciences from the University of Cambridge and spent the first part of her career in London as part of the UK Government’s Fast Stream programme.
Deputy Commissioner, System & Agency Performance
“I was called to public service when I was in university … I genuinely believe in the collective vision of contributing to make New Zealand a better place for us all, now and in the future.” Kellie Coombes
Kellie moved from Taupo to attend Victoria, University of Wellington, where she graduated with a first class honours degree in Public Policy in 1998. She has lived in Wellington ever since, except for her OE time in London.
Kellie joined public service as a graduate policy analyst at the Ministry of Education and has been in public service for all her New Zealand-based career. She joined the Commission 3 years ago, post time as the Private Secretary to the Minister of State Services. Kellie previously held policy and operational leadership roles at the Department of Labour, and the Ministry of Social Development.
Kellie is committed to women in the Public Service achieving their potential and goals, and believes it is important that our Public Service reflects the diversity of the community it is here to serve.
Deputy Commissioner | Integrity, Ethics & Standards
“Integrity is crucial to the trust and confidence New Zealanders have in the Public Service. I’m proud to play a part in supporting Public Servants to maintain that trust and confidence.” Catherine Williams
From organising blue light discos as a teenager to leading trans-Atlantic global banking teams, Catherine brings extensive experience in positive influence through strategic thinking to the State Services Commission.
Her first taste of the New Zealand Public Service was a holiday job as a university student working for the Department of Internal Affairs.
This “fascinating” glimpse into what it means to be a public servant helped shape her decision to refocus her energy from global banking to the Public Service about 14 years later.
The roles Catherine has been attracted to allow her to connect big-picture strategies with operational pragmatism, in a way that has a genuine positive impact on New Zealanders.
She has held senior leadership positions at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. She joined the leadership team at the State Services Commission in 2016.
Catherine holds a BA in English Literature and a BSc in mathematics and chemistry.
Deputy Commissioner | Workforce & Talent Management
"Our people are our biggest asset. I'm committed to an inclusive and diverse public sector that enables our people to reach their full potential, giving us better services for all New Zealanders." Dale Farrar
Dale joined the State Services Commission in June 2017, having specialised in strategic people leadership in both public and private sector organisations.
Her public service career began as a solicitor for the Ministry of Education and she's spent close to 17 years in government agencies.
Dale's expertise spans organisation development, talent management, people change management, leadership development, and employment relations strategy and practice.
She has held a number of senior executive human resource management roles in a diverse range of global and local industries, most recently as executive vice-president human resources at Fisher & Paykel Appliances.
Dale studied law, history and philosophy at Victoria University, graduating with an LLB and BA.
Chief Legal Officer
“Upholding the rule of law is an important component in ensuring the integrity of New Zealand’s public service. I’m privileged to play my part, along with my State Services Commission and Government Legal Network colleagues, in helping the public service to be world class.” Nicola Purvis
Nicola joined SSC as the Chief Legal Officer in April 2019. Prior to joining SSC, Nicola worked at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as the corporate legal services manager and, most recently, as private secretary to Hon Dr Megan Woods in her greater Christchurch regeneration portfolio. Nicola also has extensive experience as a corporate and commercial lawyer in the private sector.
She has an LLB (Hons) degree from The University of Waikato and is a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.
Director (Acting), Office of the Head of State Services
“New Zealanders are at the heart of everything we do in public service. Supporting our agencies and our people to make the greatest possible positive impact to the lives of New Zealanders is what drives me every day.” Alastair Hill
Alastair joined SSC in January 2017 after nine years at the Ministry of Social Development where he started his public service career.
Alastair entered public service in 2008, having graduated from university and returning to his hometown of Palmerston North as a case manager for Work and Income. This experience cemented Alastair’s passion for public service and wanting to ensure New Zealand’s government agencies do more to deliver for the communities they service.
Previous roles included working for Ministers as a private secretary, supporting senior leaders, and leading teams. Prior to joining SSC, Alastair was responsible for the Ministry of Social Development’s employer engagement strategies. He enjoys bringing public service agencies closer together, cutting through complex issues, and a bringing a focus on the front-line to Wellington’s political environment.
He has a BA Political Science and Geography from Victoria, University of Wellington, and is currently studying towards a Master’s degree in Public Management.
Deputy Commissioner | Corporate Services and Deputy Chief Executive
“Corporate Services is about backing the business to win. At SSC there is an additional responsibility, as leaders of the system, to be an exemplar.” Rachel Bruce
Rachel joined the Commission in April 2015 from the Ministry of Social Development where she was the Manager of Finance Strategy. In this role, she built baseline models to enable the Ministry to make informed investment decisions, supported strategic change programmes, lead the finance streams for the external Budget process, and coordinated capital investment planning to enable service delivery strategies.
She has over 25 years' experience in the Public Sector across a number of departments. Rachel held senior roles at MSD including National Finance Director for Work and Income, Business Sustainability Director for Students, Seniors and Integrity Services, and National Manager of the Integrity Intervention Centre. Prior to MSD, she worked at the Ministry of Justice as Finance Manager and the Office of Treaty Settlements where she managed the implementation of the Tainui and Ngai Tahu treaty settlements.
Rachel has a BSc (Hons) in Management Sciences from the Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, is a Chartered Accountant and holds a certificate as a black belt in Lean Six Sigma. Rachel is an alumni of the ANZSOG Executive Fellows programme.