Hurahura Research

Our research role

The Public Service Commission and the New Zealand public service are continually working to improve how public services deliver for New Zealanders. As we work on improving public services now, we must also keep an eye to the future, so that New Zealanders have a public service that better meets their needs and remains relevant in a changing world.

Part of the Commission’s core function is to provide leadership and over-sight of the public service and ensure the purpose of the Public Service Act is carried out.  From time to time, Commission staff need to do a deeper dive to understand a problem. Sometimes this involves a literature review or empirical research and analysis. Other times it can involve engaging with public administration theory to develop new understandings, or reflective practice and insights.

This collection of papers have been commissioned, written or contributed to by Commission staff members in order for us to get a better understanding of various challenges facing the public service, so that we can continue to work on improving how public services deliver for New Zealanders. The Commission’s aim in sharing the papers here is to make these ideas and analyses available to a wider audience, and to inform and encourage public debate, with the ultimate aim of informing our work.

If you have any questions, would like reports in a different format or are interested in discussing this work, please email:

Disclaimer:  The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these papers are strictly those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission or the New Zealand Government.

Please note: Prior to August 2020, the Public Service Commission was known as the State Services Commission. Documents published prior to this date refer to the Commission by this earlier name.

1 - 25 of 63 results

17 August 2023

Disability Deep Dive

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is an essential part of the Public Service.

14 April 2023

(Non) rationality and choice architecture: a behavioural approach to public administrative discretion in New Zealand

This paper aims to explore the intent of New Zealand’s Public Service Act 2020 in managing administrative behaviour.

21 September 2022

Te Taunaki Public Service Census: Inclusion deep dive

A diverse and inclusive Public Service is essential to the work we do to serve the people and communities of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Data Research
22 June 2022

Administrative philosophies in the discourse and decisions of the New Zealand public service: is post-New Public Management still a myth?

New Zealand is frequently cited as the archetypical example of New Public Management (NPM), having gone ‘further and faster’ than other jurisdictions in radically reforming their public service in the late 1980s. These r…

16 June 2022

Contingent Collaboration

The question of how agencies can work together has been central to the field of public administration for several decades. Despite significant research, the process of collaboration can still be a fraught endeavour for p…

01 December 2020

Institutional Memory as Storytelling: How Networked Government Remembers

The conventional view is that institutional memory is static and singular, the sum of recorded files and learned procedures. There is a growing body of scholarship that suggests contemporary bureaucracies are failing at …

01 September 2020

Collaborative Governance and System Dynamics Modelling: What do clients want

This chapter reports on group decision making in the context of public policy design and implementation and explores which outcomes are important to potential clients in the New Zealand public sector.

01 April 2020

Determined to succeed: Can goal commitment sustain interagency collaboration?

Governments have struggled with addressing problems that cross agency boundaries. Since 2012, the New Zealand Government has achieved significant success by holding groups of agencies collectively responsible for achievi…

01 March 2020

Making sense of New Zealand’s ‘spirit of service’: social identity and the civil service

This paper explores the creation a more unified civil service in New Zealand with the Public Service Act 2020, which promotes the most profound changes to the public service since New Zealand’s New Public Management heyd…

23 July 2019

Innovations in governance – developing collective accountability in New Zealand

This paper examines how formal collective accountability can help bind agencies together. As a leader in the New Public Management reforms of the 1980s and 90s, New Zealand divided its public sector into a large number o…

17 April 2019

Public service motivation and social identity

This paper considers some possible implications of social identity for public administration, with particular regard to joined-up government, integrity, and performance.