Written on 13 December 2019 by Peter Hughes

christmas blog

This is the final blog from me this year. I had planned to leave you with some uplifting thoughts about next year’s reforms. However, the tragedy of this week at Whakaari has thrown the preciousness of life into stark relief. 

As you know, on Monday afternoon Whakaari/White Island erupted suddenly while 47 people were on or near the island. 

A number of people have lost their lives, others are still missing, and many more are critically injured. This is a terrible tragedy for the families of those lost or injured, of which a large number are foreign nationals. 

The response of government agencies in the wake of this incident has been significant, and I am hugely proud of all the public servants working with the local community, to locate, recover, and support those affected, and to support the wider national incident management response here in Wellington and in the Bay of Plenty. That is spirit of service in action. 

And it is also when the public sector is at its best – when we move out of our agencies, think collegially, and act collectively. Sadly, we have had to do this all too many times in recent memory, with the multiple tragic events in Christchurch, the Seddon quake, and the Pike River disaster. 

An observation I’d make is that it shouldn’t take a tragedy for us to work collectively. I expect the Public Service Bill, to be passed next year, will make such efforts much easier – however, that conversation can wait for another day.

For now, I want to thank each and every one of you for your efforts this year. We have had many successes and we go into next year on the front foot. 

I wish you all a relaxing and restful Christmas break with your friends and whānau. And to those public servants who are working over the break to keep our public services running, thank you.

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