Written on 7 November 2019 by Peter Hughes

Public Service Day 2019 v2

Public Service Day Awards recipients pictured with State Services Minister Chris Hipkins, Dame Margaret Bazley, and MC Hewitt Humphrey.

Today is Te Rā Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa, New Zealand Public Service Day 2019!

The Public Service Act of 1912 established a unified, impartial, and professional public service in New Zealand, and Public Service Day is an opportunity to celebrate that. 

Public Service Day is the one day of the year we get to reflect on what it means to serve the public, and to remind ourselves that New Zealand has a public service that values political neutrality, free and frank advice, and merit-based appointments. 

New Zealand’s public service has an enviable international reputation for effectiveness and integrity, and we should be proud of that.

Public Service Day is also a time for us to recognise and celebrate individual achievement. On Monday it was my absolute pleasure to meet and honour some truly outstanding New Zealand public servants.

Public Service Honours were introduced last year, alongside our national Public Service Day. This year State Services Minister Chris Hipkins presented six people with He Tohu Ratonga Tūmatanui o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Public Service Medal – while Dame Margaret Bazley presented 10 people with He Tohu Amorangi a Te Kawa Mataaho, the State Services Commissioner's Commendation for Frontline Excellence. 

I was incredibly impressed by the Honours recipients and the amazing work they do every day. They have shown outstanding spirit of service. Each of them is tirelessly working to make New Zealand a better place – and each of them is thoroughly deserving of their award. 

I would also like to make special mention of a few other exceptional individuals who have received awards in the last year.

In May I awarded Commendations to Paul Hondelink and Nick Wallis, who lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Wanaka, and in August I awarded Commendations to Leigh Cleveland, Peg Noble, and staff of the Ministry of Social Development Ashburton Community Link, five years after Leigh and Peg lost their lives in an attack by a member of the public.

Another very special person that we have honoured this year was Pasimaca Osment, a former prison officer who was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Spirit of Service Awards

All of the 2019 Honours recipients, as well as their whānau and colleagues, can feel justifiably proud of the contribution they have made to our country. We want to create an environment where the spirit of service can thrive – and it’s very encouraging to see that happening. 

I hope that you find some time in your busy schedules to celebrate Public Service Day – and to reflect on the huge responsibility and opportunity we have as public servants to make a difference for New Zealanders. 

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