01 December 2021

Public servants are building their capability to engage with Māori and are supported by their agencies to do so, according to data from New Zealand’s inaugural Public Service Census.

Carried out earlier this year, 40,000 public servants responded to Te Taunaki Public Service Census 2021. In the survey, public servants were asked questions on a range of topics, including Māori Crown capability skills.

Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes said one of the Public Service’s most important roles is to support the Crown in its relationships with Māori under Te Tiriti ō Waitangi | the Treaty of Waitangi.

The new Public Service Act 2020 places a responsibility on the Commissioner, chief executives and all Public Service leaders to develop and maintain the capability of the system to engage with Māori and understand Māori perspectives.

The survey showed 65 percent said staff at their agency are encouraged to use te reo Māori, 59 percent are supported to develop their skills and 58 percent use at least some te reo Māori at work. Fewer are proficient, with six percent of all respondents saying they can have a conversation about a lot of everyday things in te reo Māori. This jumps to 26 percent for Māori public servants.

Almost seven out of 10 public servants (69%) understand how their agency's Tiriti | Treaty responsibilities apply to its work.

Public servants are comfortable supporting tikanga Māori in their agencies (69 percent), and 65 percent of respondents said they were encouraged and supported to engage with Māori to ensure Māori views and perspectives are considered.

“The Census results show we’ve made a good start,” said Mr Hughes.

“We’re working closely with Te Arawhiti and Te Puni Kōkiri to strengthen system leadership and capability across the Public Service in this important area. But we have much more to do. And we’ll do it.”

Te Tumu Whakarae mō Te Puni Kōkiri | Secretary for Māori Development Dave Samuels said Te Puni Kōkiri was working across the public system to enable equitable and effective public sector performance for Māori.

“Te Puni Kōkiri is the Government’s principal policy advisor on Māori wellbeing and development, but across the Public Service there is a collective responsibility on all of us to help improve wellbeing outcomes for Māori.

“It’s promising to see data showing public servants are motivated in this area, because there is a lot of work ahead of us. What’s good for Māori is good for all New Zealanders.”

Lil Anderson, Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive of  the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti, said it was clear from the results that public servants across the board want to increase their capability in te ao Māori.

“They know how important this mahi is to ensure the Crown is a better Treaty partner and that it requires every one of us,” she said.

“There is already some ability and lots of enthusiasm in the Public Service, and we expect this will only grow as agencies embark on their Whāinga Amorangi:Transforming leadership  journeys.

“Whāinga Amorangi helps individuals and organisations in the Public Service build their capability to engage with iwi Māori, focusing on te reo Māori and the history of Aotearoa and the Treaty of Waitangi.

“Te Arawhiti has been privileged to lead this work.”

Te Taunaki findings will help benchmark and measure Public Service progress in this important kaupapa.  

Data from this year’s Census will be published on Te Kawa Mataaho’s website on 7 December.



Media queries: Grahame Armstrong: 021 940 457