Written on 5 July 2019 by Peter Hughes

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On Wednesday the State Services Commission hosted the third annual Public Service Leaders’ Summit. We brought together more than 650 senior leaders, a week to the day since State Services Minister Chris Hipkins announced the proposed State Sector Act reforms, the biggest transformation of the Public Service in 30 years. 

I found it to be an incredibly worthwhile day. Our very capable MCs, Rebecca Kitteridge and Andrew Hampton, led us through a busy programme, and we had a number of interesting panellists and presenters.

It was great to hear first-hand from Minister Hipkins about the Government’s proposed public service reforms, and to break some of these down to discuss. Also, his insights on the importance of free and frank advice were invaluable. 

As public servants, it is our responsibility to shape, drive, and communicate the reforms throughout the sector. We will do this by working together as a more unified Public Service. 

At the Summit we discussed the challenge of how we think about our principles and values and how we embed these in our day-to-day work. This was a good start. The day threw up a lot of ideas that will help us move forward. 

It was important to hear from Minister Kelvin Davis, the Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti. It was important to hear his vision for how we fulfil the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – not just the words, but the intent. And it was important to hear him talk about the bridge between Māori and the Crown. His challenge to the audience: who has travelled across that bridge and into te ao Māori? 

Events like the Summit help us to connect as public servants, and they unite us in our collective responsibility to New Zealanders. As I said in my address, people sign up to the Public Service because they have a spirit of service to the community. 

It’s great to see the spirit of service at work.

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