Te Tohu Ratonga Tūmatanui | New Zealand Public Service Medal

A special presentation of Te Tohu Ratonga Tūmatanui o Aotearoa l The New Zealand Public Service Medal was made on Tuesday 26 January 2021.

Ann Dysart

Ann Dysart, Manager Community Partnerships and Programmes, Ministry of Social Development

Ann dedicated her entire public service career to supporting and empowering whānau communities. Since she started as a public service cadet at 17 years old, Ann worked tirelessly as a champion of whānau, always advocating on their behalf, promoting their values, and nurturing their aspirations.

Ann was best known for her leadership of the Māori-led initiative, “E Tū Whānau” where she worked as an invisible force behind the scenes inspiring generations of whānau to achieve better outcomes for their people. Her quiet, calm and dignified presence earned her enormous respect, trust and mana from her community.

Ann’s authenticity and cultural responsiveness saw her and the E Tū Whānau team take the lead in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attack supporting the refugee community within hours of the tragedy.

The following whakataukī embodies Ann’s dedication to whānau and communities. Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei - Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.

Ann was a leader, champion and advocate for the community she served and she is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal. Sadly, Ann passed away on 28 January 2021, after a period of illness.


Ten medals were conferred in November 2021 to exceptional public servants who have given meritorious service. The recipients were:

Ms Jan Breakwell

Ms Jan Breakwell, Chief Legal Advisor, Ministry of Education

Jan works tirelessly behind the scenes to improve outcomes for learners. She is passionate about helping to shape an education system that delivers equitable access to education for all. She has a strong sense of justice, fair process, and above all, a devotion to New Zealanders, especially the students who are at the heart of everything she does. Jan is known as a go-to person, always willing to support colleagues from across the Public Service. She is motivated by the higher purpose of benefitting our communities – and colleagues say her spirit of service is difficult to match. Jan is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Ms Hinemoa Dixon

Ms Hinemoa Dixon, Senior Mediator Employment Mediation Service, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Hinemoa has an unwavering dedication to improving outcomes for her clients and has been a key figure in developing culturally responsive mediation services for Māori. She breathes mauri into her work, and colleagues describe her as their taonga, someone whose passion and commitment to the service of others is enduring and inspiring. Hinemoa is a proud public servant and is constantly supporting and mentoring other team members. Her spirit of service extends beyond the Public Service too – with her volunteering in several community activities and groups, including a community project to empower youth to realise their purpose and potential, as well as supporting the Kingitanga movement with Ngā Waka Taua o Tainui. She is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Mr Steve Haami

Mr Steve Haami, Pouārahi, Ministry of Social Development

Steve demonstrates his spirit of service with humility, humour, integrity, and most of all, his genuine aroha for people. He works with a desire to help others and is dedicated to improving the lives of Māori. Steve stood out as a te ao Māori champion long before the Ministry developed its Māori strategy. He goes above and beyond to support his colleagues, placing others above his own needs or expectations. Steve is highly respected for his commitment to his work and the revitalisation of te reo Māori, his passion for helping people, and his quiet dedication to bringing te ao Māori to life. He is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Miss Renee Higgison

Miss Renee Higgison, Manager Justice Services, Ministry of Justice

Renee is a driver for change and improvement at the community level, going the extra mile to instil the same commitment in her staff. She is both a leader and a role model. Renee has a big heart for young people and her local Porirua community, and she goes out of her way to connect people across the court with communities and the young adults themselves, which means better outcomes for the people she serves. Renee brings people together. Her colleagues describe her as a force for positive change – someone who motivates and lifts up all those around her. Renee is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Ms Elizabeth Jones, Deputy Chief Executive, Business Integration, Ministry of Social Development

Liz truly cares for the people she supports and has a deep awareness of the wide impacts of her work on everyone, especially the most vulnerable. She embodies the spirit of service through her courage, leadership, and humility and by always ‘stepping up’. She is a consistent, calm, and brave leader, who brings a cool head and a strong sense of what’s important to support people through the most traumatic events. Liz is described as a ‘fixer’ – someone positive who is willing to manage issues and tackle challenges with the bigger picture in mind of improving the Ministry of Social Development’s services for New Zealanders. She is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Miss Koula Tuitupou Kutu, Director Communications, Media and Marketing, Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Koula is deeply committed to advancing social equity outcomes for Pacific peoples. She is someone who shows that ‘higher purpose’ motivation in her work. She leads with compassion, confidence, humility, and honesty – and with people at the heart of everything. This is the spirit of service in action. Koula is a strong advocate for Pacific peoples. She brings her passion for the community and love for her culture to her work. She works hard to strengthen the narrative for Pacific people in Aotearoa and give them the platform and support they deserve. She is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Mr Jeff Montgomery, Registrar-General, Department of Internal Affairs

Jeff puts people at the heart of everything he does, and as Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, his work is all about serving New Zealanders. He comes to work to help people without expecting praise or recognition. Among his colleagues and stakeholders, Jeff is known to be open minded, responsive, and always willing to go out of his way for others – and they say that his generosity and collaborative style truly set him apart. He is motivated by a desire to make accessing public services easy for the people and many diverse communities of New Zealand, and his respect for the public he serves comes through in every project he has undertaken. He is someone who lives to serve. Jeff is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Dr Gerald Rys, Principal Science Advisor, Ministry for Primary Industries

Gerald works with an unassuming dedication to New Zealand and its people. He is generous in sharing his knowledge and time, through formally and informally mentoring other staff, acting as a supervisor for masters and PhD students, and providing advice and guidance to others. He has had a significant impact on the way a generation of science and policy experts view New Zealand. He is honest, enthusiastic, and resilient in his work. Gerald has an untiring commitment to addressing climate change and achieving sustainable land management, with what’s best for New Zealand and New Zealanders always at the forefront of his mind. Gerald is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Dr Sripriya Somasekhar, Principal Advisor, Inclusion and Diversity, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Sripriya is an inspiration to colleagues and the communities she works for, empowering others with her compassion and drive. She has shown courage in addressing serious and sensitive issues relating to family violence and to inclusion and diversity, and she is willing to have difficult conversations that involve challenging the status quo. She lives and breathes her commitment to inclusion and diversity both at work and in the community, and her dedication to a higher purpose is evident in her work every day. Colleagues say that she goes out of her way to create safe spaces for people to share – and she shows the utmost respect for everyone, even in challenging circumstances. Sripriya volunteered her time in a work mentor programme, continuing to offer support to her mentee long after the programme had ended. She is a role model for all public servants. Sripriya is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Dr Prue Williams, General Manager, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Prue has dedicated her life to serving the people of New Zealand with empathy and respect – and her calmness and tenacity in the face of adversity is legendary. Prue is a strong advocate for the difference that research can make to the lives of all New Zealanders, and she is known as a person who cares deeply about the people she works with. Prue quietly and humbly serves as a role model for women in science, fostering an empowering work environment and encouraging her teams to lead in their own right. She demonstrates her commitment to the spirit of service in all she does. Prue is a worthy recipient of the New Zealand Public Service Medal.

Te Tohu Amorangi a Te Kawa Mataaho | The Public Service Commissioner's Commendation for Frontline Excellence

Twelve public servants were awarded the commendation for their outstanding spirit of service in November 2021. The recipients were:

Mrs Poonam Chaudhary, Housing Broker, Ministry of Social Development

Poonam’s belief that every person should have a place to call home is evident in her tireless work to house New Zealanders and the way she demonstrates multiple small acts of kindness along the way. Her commitment and manaakitanga go well above the requirements of her job, and she is held in high regard by tenants, landlords, and property managers alike, who all recognise that she is someone who is there to help. Even during COVID-19 outbreaks, Poonam spent countless hours beyond the call of duty, helping to get vulnerable people into homes. She has a humble, unassuming approach and she never expects recognition. That is the spirit of service. Poonam is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Mrs Anita Edwards, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Justice

Anita is a people person who works collaboratively and relentlessly to improve outcomes for justice sector clients, particularly our rangatahi. She is known for her integrity, her care, and her willingness to go the extra mile to help people. Anita is generous in sharing her time and expertise, mentoring other Pasifika women in the justice sector to help them thrive, and serving as Auckland Chair of the Government Women’s Network.  Anita is motivated to make a difference for New Zealanders, and she’s someone who brings people together and brings out the best in others. She is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Mr Lukas Goode-DeFrancis, Senior Client Services Advisor, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Lukas demonstrates an outstanding commitment to New Zealanders by going that extra mile to serve each and every day – truly exemplifying the spirit of service. He is known for his warm and positive approach – and for his empathy in assisting people. Lukas demonstrates this through his focus on his clients and understanding their needs, and colleagues say his work ethic shines through the office. He is a patient and humble person, one who is always looking to improve his knowledge so he can better support clients and other team members. Lukas is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Mrs Marian Te Kura Jamieson, Work Broker, Ministry of Social Development

Marian, who is better known as Nanny, has shown outstanding service over her career, impacting the lives of thousands of people in her Bay of Plenty community. Marian is passionate about helping people. She is known for her warmth, humour, leadership, and commitment and is highly regarded for being firm but fair. She is someone who sees and brings out people’s potential. Marian is also a part of the Ministry of Social Development’s peer support network, giving her time freely to support other staff in their work or personal lives and helping them to thrive. Marian is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Mr Leleimalefaga Leota, Payroll Analyst, HR, Department of Internal Affairs

Lelei’s commitment to service is inspiring. He is generous with his time and knowledge, mentoring and developing younger Pacific staff and supporting their wellbeing. He is known as a person of integrity and as someone who works with precision. His passion for his work stems from his desire to help people. This spirit of service also extends into the community, where he promotes the Samoan language by teaching Samoan oratory skills. While he has spent most of his life in New Zealand, Lelei’s continued service to his extended family and communities in Samoa has seen him honoured with several chief and orators matai titles. He is someone who truly lives to serve. Lelei is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Ms Rose Mareko, Dispute Resolution Coordinator, Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment

Rose embodies manaakitanga and kotahitanga through her compassion and empathy for everyone she serves. She will always put her hand up to go above and beyond what is required. Her positivity lifts and lightens the workplace, and she can connect and empathise with her clients during some of the most stressful times in their lives. Her motivation to serve people is underpinned by her values of integrity, caring, trust and sincerity – which she brings to her work every day. Rose’s colleagues say that she exemplifies the spirit of service and what it means to be a public servant. She is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Ms Christine McRobie, Customer Service Representative, Ministry of Social Development

Most of Chris’s clients will never see her face, but her warmth, skill and commitment to doing her best for others reaches through the phone. Her clients are not only supported, but cared for, valued, and reassured. This is feedback she gets from New Zealanders time and time again. A Customer Service Representative is a challenging role, supporting people through a hard time in their lives. Chris prioritises understanding and acknowledging people’s situations, putting them at ease with her caring and helpful manner. She is always looking to brighten another person’s day, and her workmates say her smile brings joy to the office. Chris is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Mr Warren Morgan, Court Registry Officer, Ministry of Justice

Warren’s passion for helping people is clear in the care and compassion he shows to everyone who enters the court. His dedication, personal approach, and use of tikanga and te reo Māori are treasures that he brings to his work in the Ministry’s central region. This helps Māori communities especially and makes them feel heard and understood. Warren is a proud public servant – the kind of person for whom service is a higher calling and not just a job. He loves to share mātauranga Māori with others and he gives his time freely to build understanding of te reo and tikanga among his colleagues. Warren is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Ms Deborah Potter, Principal Advisor, Ministry for Women

Deb embodies the spirit of service. She is known for her strong leadership, humility, and willingness to go the extra mile, and her passion for improving the lives of women in New Zealand drives all that she does. She has brought about change for women, particularly those that public services are not reaching effectively, through her innovative use of research and public data and her desire to help people. Deb is a true believer in the value of public service and the positive outcomes the system can achieve. She initiated a cross-agency partnership, along with non-governmental organisations, to trial a new way of accessing integrated data – demonstrating innovation to deliver for New Zealanders. She is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Mr Ian Procter, Kaitakawaenga Māori, Inland Revenue

Ian serves with exceptional care for people and a steady commitment to building the relationship between Inland Revenue and iwi in the Tairawhiti/Gisborne region. Known by many as Matua Ian, he is approachable, caring, and positive. He regularly goes beyond the call of duty to build relationships in the community and bring the voices of Māori to the Public Service. He does all this to serve the Māori population in his region and to help them navigate Inland Revenue services. Ian has looked beyond his role to contribute significantly to Inland Revenue’s capability growth, and he is known for sharing his knowledge and passion for his culture with workmates, allowing them to better serve communities as well. A particularly special gift was the Waiata o Te Tari Taake, the agency’s waiata, which he co-wrote with his uncle. Ian is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Mrs Charmaine Ratima, Kaitakawaenga Māori, Inland Revenue

Charmaine’s dedication to serving tangata whenua is outstanding. She pours her heart and soul into her work – using mātauranga Māori to bridge gaps between government and Māori communities and help them to manage their own tax affairs. She does everything she can to ensure they understand the ‘what, how, and why’ and does not shy away from difficult conversations. Charmaine is described by her workmates as their wahine toa – and is admired for how she stands strong as a wahine Māori. Building relationships with customers takes a huge amount of patience, compassion, and perseverance, which Charmaine role models time and time again. She works tirelessly to improve the lives of her clients and goes above and beyond to empower her colleagues to do the same. Charmaine is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

Ms Wendy Shaw, Secretary for Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa New Zealand Geographic Board, Land Information New Zealand

Wendy embodies the ‘higher purpose’ that shines through her work. She is motivated by her spirit of service and a passion to help all New Zealanders feel a sense of belonging and identity, which she does by helping people to learn about place names and participate in place naming. Wendy goes above and beyond the call of duty to include people in decision making – and she has been influential in improving processes to reflect tikanga and support Māori communities across New Zealand. She is always generous in sharing her knowledge with others, who talk of her caring nature and her firm commitment to helping people. Her contribution to international best practice naming is widely recognised, especially by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names. She does all this with genuine humility. Wendy is a worthy recipient of this Commendation.

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