25 November 2021

I am absolutely delighted to announce the winners of the third annual Te Hāpai Hapori | Spirit of Service Awards, which were held virtually last night.

The Spirit of Service Awards celebrate outstanding public sector governance, young leaders and initiatives delivering exceptional outcomes for New Zealanders. Once again, we had a range of amazing finalists from across the Public Service, and it was great to have the opportunity to celebrate their incredible work.

A special congratulations must go to the winners of this year’s Te Tohu a te Pirimia | The Prime Minister’s Award: the COVID-19 border response team and the overall health sector response to COVID-19.

Joint Prime Minister’s Awards were presented to Aviation Security Services, Civil Aviation Authority, New Zealand Customs Service, New Zealand Defence Force, Maritime New Zealand, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Health, Ministry for Primary Industries, and Ministry of Transport for the border response – and to Ministry of Health for the overall health sector response.

The judges said it was impossible to choose between the two entries, which they noted delivered incredible outcomes, given the magnitude and complexity of the challenge. These two entries comprised tens of thousands of public servants going above and beyond for New Zealanders. That is truly the spirit of service.

It was also exciting to see such inspiring rangatahi in the Young Leader of the Year category. Again the judges were unable to choose between two exceptional finalists, and I’d like to congratulate the winners, Isaiah Apiata of Oranga Tamariki and April Kwak of Customs. These young leaders are the future of our Public Service – and the future looks bright.

I would also like to make special mention of Tā Wira Gardiner, who was presented Te Tohu Oranga Angitū | The Lifetime Achievement Award at a special ceremony in Whakatāne on 19 November 2021.

Tā Wira has influenced generations of public servants through his authenticity and steadfast commitment to serving the people of New Zealand, and in his many years of public service he always left a mark.

The Spirit of Service Awards demonstrate outstanding examples of how the Public Service is going that extra mile for New Zealanders.

I think it is very important to acknowledge and reward excellence in the Public Service, particularly after a challenging and busy year.

You can find more information and a full list of the awards on our website. Congratulations once more to all the winners!