17 August 2023

Ngā mihi nui to the winners of the 2023 Te Hāpai Hapori | Spirit of Service Awards! 

Last night, the fifth annual Te Hāpai Hapori | Spirit of Service Awards were held at Te Papa. The Awards recognise exemplary mahi that shows how the Public Service makes a positive impact for Aotearoa New Zealand.  

Rt Hon Chris Hipkins presented Te Tohu a te Pirimia | Prime Minister’s Award to Te Tira Tiaki | Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) National Cyber Security Centre (and industry partners) for its work to achieve better cyber security outcomes through partnership with industry. This collaboration provides near real-time threat intelligence information and strengthens New Zealand’s cyber defence capabilities 

Mr Hipkins described this year’s winner as a group of unsung heroes, working tirelessly behind the scenes to protect New Zealanders and the systems we rely on. The judges acknowledged the agency’s innovation and its commitment to continuous improvement of services and sharing data through genuine partnerships. 

Te Tohu Oranga Angitū | Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Raewyn Sowter for her spirit of service to the community. A respected and influential leader, Rae possesses the ability to draw out the true potential of others and guide them to success. She is best described as a ‘champion for Kaipara’. Her mahi is woven with manaaki for everyone she meets.  

“Living and working in the community is really important to me as it is the heart of the people we serve and gives you a sense of what impacts on them as individuals and whānau. What matters to them, is what should matter to us all.” – Rae Sowter

Saunoa (Noa) Samasoni was named Te Tohu te Kaiārahi Rangatahi o te Tau | Young Leader of the Year for her work with Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities. Noa led the team responsible for managing the major works required following January’s Auckland floods. Noa’s work impacted 657 flooded properties and helped to design the award-winning Te Mahi Ngātahi maintenance programme.  

Manatū Aorere | Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were awarded Te Tohu ngā Hua E Pai Ake Ana | Better Outcomes Award for its work in the New Zealand-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement. This is New Zealand’s most comprehensive free trade agreement to date, building strong trade and investment ties with the United Kingdom. 

Te Tohu mō te Ratonga Whakahirahira | Service Excellence Award was awarded to two winners who both captured the breadth of work going on across the public sector to serve current and future generations. The first award went to the team from Te Ope Kātua o Aotearoa | New Zealand Defence Force, Te Arawhiti | Office of Māori Crown Relations, Te Puni Kōkiri | Ministry of Māori Development, Te Tira Ahu Ika A Whiro | Veterans’ Affairs and Te Mata Law who returned the medals rightfully earned by the 28th Māori Battalion soldiers to their whānau. The judges said this work was important in bringing a sense of closure and restoring mana.  

The second went to Te Tira Tiaki | Government Communications Security Bureau’s National Cyber Security Centre (and their industry partners) for their collaborative approach to cyber security, which was also selected for Te Tohu a te Pirimia | Prime Minister’s Award. 

Two finalists were chosen as joint winners of Te Tohu mō te Tūhonotanga a Ngāi Māori me te Karauna | Māori Crown Relationships Award. Both capture the evolution and strengthening of the Māori Crown Relationship.   

Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Uru Taumatua, Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora | Ministry of Social Development, Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health, Te Arawhiti | Office of Māori Crown Relations, Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education, Oranga Tamariki | Ministry for Children, Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga | Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Hīkina Whakatutuki | Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Te Papa Atawhai | Department of Conservationwere awarded  for the signing of He Tapuae (Tūhoe Service Management Plan) in 2021 signifying the Crown commitment to deliver on the aspirations of Ngāi Tūhoe. 

Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga | Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Te Puni Kōkiri | Ministry of Māori Development received the award for Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga Māori Housing Prototypes. This is a four-year commitment to creating meaningful change in the future of housing and empowering Māori to determine the best approach for their communities. 

The Border Executive Board, an interdepartmental executive board, was awarded this year’s Te Tohu te Kaiārahi Mahi Whakahaere | Leadership in Governance Award for their work in delivering an integrated and effective system that enables the prosperity and security of New Zealand through a safe and smart border.  

Te Tohu mō te Hiranga o te Mahi Kaupapa Here | Excellence in Public Policy Award was awarded to Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education and Tatauranga Aotearoa | Stats NZ for their Equity Index Project. This is a complex, multi-workstream system shift and investment to support ākonga facing socio-economic barriers to educational achievement. 

Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes said it is important to acknowledge and reward public service.  

“Public servants come to work every day because they want to make a difference,” said Mr Hughes. 

“They care about the people they serve and want the best for our families, communities, and our country. The Spirit of Service Awards acknowledge the contribution public servants make every day.” 

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to our sponsors Westpac New Zealand, Deloitte, ANZSOG - The Australia and New Zealand School of Government, DXC Technology and Victoria University of Wellington School of Government.