E ngaa rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei I tēnei poo, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Whanganui-a-Tara.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House Wellington.
I specifically want to acknowledge: the Hon Grant Robertson, Deputy Prime Minister; the Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister for the Public Service; Peter Hughes, Public Service Commissioner; government agency chief executives; and, of course, today’s award recipients and their families.
I’ve known Peter a long time – since he was appointed Chief Executive of the Health Funding Authority – when we were both much younger.
Since then, we have both moved onto different roles, including working together during his term as Chief Executive of the Ministry for Social Development, as Secretary for Education, and as State Services Commissioner.
We are lucky to have a Commissioner who is so deeply committed to our public service, and who believes deeply in the notion of ‘service’ for the benefit of New Zealanders. Peter truly epitomises the ‘spirit of service’.
I’m delighted to host Te Rā Ratonga Tūmatanui, the Public Service Day Awards – otherwise known as the Oscars of the New Zealand public service – being held here at Government House for the first time.
In many ways, I see that the values of the modern public service are very much aligned with the values of my term as Governor General. These are values of:
Kaitiakitanga – that we are temporary guardians of things that are precious to us, and have a responsibility to look after them for future generations.
Oranga – preserving the health, vitality, and wellbeing of living things.
And Manaakitanga – our duty of care for others: to uphold their mana, respect them, and look after them.
Though I am not a public servant, I serve on behalf of Her Majesty for all the public of Aotearoa New Zealand, and therefore public service will be at the heart of everything I do during these next five years.
I am pleased tonight to help shine a light on the commitment and ingenuity of our best public servants, whose work so often goes unacknowledged.
Twelve recipients will be awarded He Tohu Amorangi a Te Kawa Mataaho, the Public Service Commissioner’s Commendations for Frontline Excellence – for outstanding spirit of service.
A further ten will receive Te Tohu Ratonga Tūmatanui o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Public Service Medal – for service that has brought significant benefit or prestige to New Zealand or its public service.
The Public Service Medal was established in 2018 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and I am honoured to be presenting it on her behalf.
New Zealand has a public service to be proud of – ranking second in the world for effectiveness and first equal for transparency.
During my time as Children’s Commissioner, I was struck by the outstanding quality and commitment of our public servants.
I worked alongside highly skilled individuals with deeply held values, who were driven by a desire to improve the lives of their fellow New Zealanders.
Indeed, we are fortunate in New Zealand that many of our best and brightest minds choose a career in the public service. I’m personally thankful Dr Bloomfield chose this as his.
And I do think our Director-General of Health is a wonderful example of the New Zealand public servant: someone who demonstrates exceptional integrity, judgement, and a deep sense of care for the people of New Zealand.
I must add that Dr Bloomfield was here just a few weeks ago for my Welcome Dinner, and I’m pleased to report, he is also a lot of fun.
My very warmest congratulations again to this evening’s award recipients – and to Peter and to those of you in public service: thank you for all you do, on behalf of all New Zealanders.
Ko tenei he iti, he pounamu ma tatou katoa.