The Public Service Act of 1912 established a unified, impartial, and professional public service in New Zealand, and Public Service Day is an opportunity to both celebrate that and reflect on what it means to be a public servant.
2020 has been an extraordinary year for the public service, and I’m incredibly proud of the way we have banded together to deliver for New Zealanders in such trying circumstances. To me, that is the spirit of service in action.
This year’s celebrations are even more special following the introduction of the Public Service Act 2020, which means the spirit of service is now embedded in legislation. Under the Act, the spirit of service to the community must be preserved, protected and nurtured.
I chose to be a public servant because I care, and I want to make a difference. I really do believe in the ideal of public service.
I also believe in the power of awards and recognition. It’s important on days like these that we reflect on our spirit of service and why we do what we do. But equally, those who go the extra mile in serving New Zealanders deserve to be acknowledged, celebrated and rewarded.
It was an honour and a privilege last week to award Te Tohu Ratonga Tūmatanui | The New Zealand Public Service Medal to 10 exceptional public servants who have given meritorious service, as well as awarding Te Tohu Amorangi a Te Kawa Mataaho | The Public Service Commissioner's Commendation for Frontline Excellence to 14 public servants for their outstanding spirit of service. You can read about the Public Service Day Awards recipients here.
These individuals have made a huge difference. They embody the spirit of service, and they deserve the respect of all New Zealanders.
I am also excited for this evening, when Te Kawa Mataaho will host the second annual Spirit of Service Awards. These Awards celebrate outstanding public sector governance, young leaders and initiatives that deliver great outcomes motivated by a spirit of service to the community. I suggest following the Te Kawa Mataaho LinkedIn and Facebook pages, where you will see the winners announced live tonight!
I see the spirit of service every day. Ministers see it, and the public sees it too. Please take some time today to look back on the year and to celebrate what you and we as a public service have achieved.
And finally, thank you for your service!