24 May 2024

Acting Public Service Commissioner Heather Baggott has today released the findings of an independent assessment of Te Puni Kōkiri’s process to appoint a senior advisor.

In February 2024, the Chief Executive of Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), Dave Samuels, asked the Public Service Commission to look into TPK’s processes and decision-making relating to the fixed-term appointment of a Senior Advisor – Māori Capability role.   

Independent expert Pania Gray, of Kororā Consulting, led the work. She looked into the agency’s recruitment processes, not the applicant or any other individuals.

Ms Gray made no findings on the question of whether the Senior Advisor should have been appointed by TPK, which was not within the scope of her assessment. Hiring decisions are a matter for TPK. 

The independent assessment found:

  • TPK did not explore the risks arising from the applicant’s professional serious misconduct at his interview. 
  • The interview panel did not collectively consider the applicant’s professional serious misconduct charge in assessing his suitability for appointment during the moderation process after his interview. 
  • TPK should have carried out a review of the appointment, which was requested eight times, but did not. 
  • The Deputy Secretaries who approved the appointment also made the decision to not review the appointment, which was not appropriate.
  • The chief executive was not aware the applicant had listed him as a referee for this role.
  • The chief executive did not have undue influence on the process or decision to appoint, or any role in considering the requests for a review of the appointment.

Ms Baggott said it was disappointing TPK did not apply the rigour that is expected of the Public Service in a recruitment process. 

“TPK did not consider the implications of the applicant's background in sufficient depth and refusing to conduct a formal review was a missed opportunity to clear up the matter,” said Ms Baggott.

“I have made my expectations clear to the chief executive who has assured me he will tighten the agency’s recruitment process to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Media queries: Grahame Armstrong 021 940 457 or grahame.armstrong@publicservice.govt.nz

Read the review and related information