Senior Leaders

Chief Executives have statutory responsibilities for both their individual agencies, and the responsiveness of their agencies to collective interests. Together, chief executives have committed to build a strong and diverse group of Public Service leaders, unified around a spirit of service and capable of working across agency boundaries to better serve New Zealanders.

Te Pae Turuki | Public Service Leaders Group

The term ‘Te Pae Turuki’ can be translated as ‘Action Leaders’. Pae refers to orators/leaders or a collective of such people. Turuki is used in the traditional call ‘Turuki! Turuki!’, which exhorts a group of people to move as a collective to accomplish large, heavy tasks such as the portage of waka.

Te Pae Turuki, the Public Service Leaders Group (PSLG), was formed in 2017. It is a cohort comprised of senior public servants in the most complex and influential leadership roles drawn from Public Service departments, departmental agencies, Police, NZ Defence Force and some large Crown Agents. Members hold a special role leading across the Public Service and their Chief Executives support their development and career progression.

The Public Service needs senior leaders with experience across a range of sectors, roles, service delivery and operational environments, communities and customers. This broadens and deepens our collective skills and strengths, enabling us to deliver better outcomes and services for New Zealanders.

Members of Te Pae Turuki are nominated by chief executives according to role-based criteria set byTe Kawa Mataaho | the Public Service Commission. Members are drawn from agencies where the chief executive is part of the Public Service Leadership Team (PSLT - defined by s59 Public Service Act 2020). For the purposes of Te Pae Turuki membership this definition includes all functional and departmental agency chief executives, including those that currently sit outside PSLT. The criteria applied by these chief executives when nominating members requires one or more of the following criteria to be met:

  • being a member of an executive team
  • running a Public Service business for Aotearoa New Zealand or a significant region
  • heading a corporate function in a medium or large agency
  • creating high strategic impact, working across larger agencies and in concert with other agencies.

Career Boards

Career Boards are a mechanism by which Chief Executives provide senior leaders with cross agency development.

There are three functional Career Boards and one regional Career Board (Auckland). Functional Career Boards each have a different area of focus: Policy, Operations, and Corporate. A System Career Board sits across all four. Each Career Board has a chair, appointed byTe Tumu Whakarae mō Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commissioner, Head of Service, and board members that are a mix of agency chief executives and senior system leaders.

Not every agency is represented on each Career Board so members are required to bring and apply a system perspective rather than an agency view.

Each Career Board has its own vision:

  • Policy: to create policy leaders who support good Ministerial decisions that improve the lives of New Zealanders.
  • Operations: to create leaders who will transform Public Service operations for a future that better delivers for New Zealanders.
  • Corporate: to create strategic leaders who stimulate and lift public service performance through corporate service-led transformation.
  • Auckland: to facilitate opportunities for building the leadership capability of the Auckland cohort.

For more information, read Understanding Career Boards (PDF, 2.1 MB) or email

Senior Leader Development and Deployment

Agency Chief Executives are responsible for senior leader development and deployment. The right developmental experiences at the right time are central to growing senior leader capability.

Te Kawa Mataaho has resources to support senior leader development. These tools, along with the talent management system, common assessment and benchmarking approach supports agencies, CEs and Career Boards to match system needs and development needs with the right learning opportunities. The Leadership Development Centre (LDC) is a branded business unit of the Commission and delivers senior leader development.

In 2018 Te Kawa Mataaho developed a set of senior leader movement standards to enable greater cross-agency movement and development of senior leaders in the Public Service Leaders Group and/or Career Board cohorts. They have been designed to minimise and navigate the practical issues that can act as perceived or actual barriers when senior leaders move across agencies for individual development, agency and/or system need. The standards set out the minimum expectations for all agencies, unless otherwise agreed between the parties involved. These standards have been refreshed to reference the Public Service Act 2020 and link to LDC guidelines for shadowing opportunities.

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