Congratulations to the 2021 Spirit Service Award winners! See Award Categories for more information.

Te Tohu a te Pirimia | Prime Minister’s Award

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern announced the Prime Minister’s Award, selected from the winners of the Better Outcomes, Service Excellence, Māori Crown Relationships and Leadership in Governance categories. This year the Prime Minister’s Award has been presented to the joint winners of the Better Outcomes Category.

Te Tohu mō ngā Hua E Pai Ake Ana | Better Outcomes Award

Two finalists have been chosen as joint winners of the Better Outcomes Award. They have both done extraordinary work to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand in the period before the vaccine rollout. Their combined efforts helped to keep whānau and communities safe in the early stages of the pandemic.

Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health

The health sector response to COVID-19

The overall health sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic delivered exceptional outcomes for New Zealanders under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. This was an outstanding example of team effort across the health sector, delivered at pace and under immense pressure.

Kaiwhakamaru Rererangi | Aviation Security Services, Te Mana Rererangi Tūmatanui o Aotearoa | Civil Aviation Authority, Te Mana Ārai o Aotearoa | New Zealand Customs Service, Te Ope Kātua o Aotearoa | New Zealand Defence Force, Nō te Rere Moana Aotearoa | Maritime New Zealand, Hīkina Whakatutuki | Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Manatū Aorere | Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health, Manatū Ahu Matua | Ministry for Primary Industries, Te Manatū Waka | Ministry of Transport

COVID-19 Border Response

The overall border response to COVID-19 truly exemplifies a unified Public Service. Tens of thousands of public servants across multiple agencies went above and beyond the expectations of their everyday roles to stand up the border response and keep New Zealanders safe.

Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Mahi Whakahaere | Leadership in Governance Award

Te Papa Tongarewa | Museum of New Zealand

Te Papa Tongarewa is an excellent example of governance that is reinvigorating bicultural kaupapa. They truly embody a co-leadership model. They understand their role as the forum for the nation – creating a place where Aotearoa New Zealand can understand its past, enrich its present and meet the challenges of the future.

Te Tohu mō te Tūhonotanga a Ngāi Māori me te Karauna | Māori Crown Relationships Award

Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga | Archives New Zealand and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

The Ngāi Tahu Archive and Archives New Zealand Partnership

Te Rūnanga Ngāi Tahu and Archives New Zealand started their collaborative partnership over a decade ago with dedication and commitment to preserve, protect and make accessible taonga of significance for Ngāi Tahu through digital initiatives.

Te Tohu mō te Ratonga Whakahirahira | Service Excellence Award

Hīkina Whakatutuki | Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health, Te Mana Ārai o Aotearoa | New Zealand Customs Service, Manawatū District Council

MBIE Small Business Collective, including the Digital Boost programme and Business Connect

This initiative provided outstanding support for New Zealand’s small businesses. They helped to lift the digital capabilities of these businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The agencies leading this initiative successfully joined together to address some of the main pain points identified by small businesses in managing licences and permits from across government. They did this by using a customer-first approach and demonstrating a real understanding of small businesses and the people running them.

Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Rangatahi o te Tau | Young Leader of the Year

This year, two finalists have been chosen as joint winners of the Young Leader of the Year award. They exemplify the meaning of the spirit of service not only in their roles, but in the communities they serve.

April Kwak

Policy Analyst

Te Mana Ārai o Aotearoa | New Zealand Customs Service

April is recognised for being a strong example for young people in public service and for her commitment, her drive to bring forward new ideas, and not being afraid to challenge the status quo. She proudly celebrates her ethnic and cultural diversity as a Korean New Zealander.

Isaiah Apiata

Governmental Relationships Manager – Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-Ō-Ngāpuhi

Oranga Tamariki | Ministry of Children

Isaiah works with a vision and passion to deliver better outcomes for taitamariki | young people. In his Government Relationships Manager role, he guides many young people towards positive life pathways through strengthening their cultural identity and reconnecting them with their whakapapa.

Te Tohu Oranga Angitū l Lifetime Achievement Award

At a special presentation on 19 November 2021, Te Tohu Oranga Angitū l Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 was presented to Tā Wira Gardiner.

Tā Wira Gardiner

Tā Wira Gardiner embodies the spirit of service.

In his many years of public service, Tā Wira always left a mark.

He has enjoyed a long and highly distinguished career. This includes roles as the founding Director of the Waitangi Tribunal, founding General Manager of the Iwi Transition Authority, founding Chief Executive of Te Puni Kōkiri, and Lieutenant Colonel in the New Zealand Army.

Tā Wira is motivated by a higher calling to serve his community. His contributions go above and beyond this dedication to the Public Service. He is a Māori leader and an educator, scholar, historian, and author.

With whakapapa links to Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa, and Ngāti Pikiao, Tā Wira built relationships between Māori and the Crown around Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi settlement issues, fisheries, broadcasting, local and regional government, and tertiary education. In his decades of leadership, he has supported the development of Māori social, cultural and economic outcomes.

Tā Wira has influenced generations of public servants through his authenticity and steadfast commitment to serving the people of New Zealand. His spirit of service is an inspiration to all.

Even after he initially left the Public Service, Tā Wira continued to serve the public, holding governance roles on several boards, including Te Māngai Pāho, Te Papa, and the Tertiary Education Commission.

In 2008 he was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions and services to Māori. This was a fitting honour for such an outstanding leader. Tā Wira was called on time and time again to assist in the resolution of major Māori Crown relationship issues, and his dedication came from desire to make a difference in this country. This was very clear to see when he answered the call to serve and came out of retirement to lead Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children.

Tā Wira’s spirit of service is exceptional, and he is an extremely worthy recipient of the Spirit of Service Lifetime Achievement Award.

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