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Celebrating the Spirit of Service


Public service workers, from councils to emergency services, government agencies and departments, education, and other public and state sector organisations, all work to improve the lives of everyone in the community.

In recognition of these efforts, and in a national first, a group of Hawke’s Bay and Central Government public service leaders and representatives gathered today for a Spirit of Service Day to acknowledge and share their experiences of what it means to be of service to others.

The half-day conference was held in Hastings just a few days ahead of Public Service Day on November 7, a day instigated for the first time last year aimed at recognising the spirit of service tens of thousands of New Zealand's public servants express in numerous ways in their work every day, throughout the country.

Central Hawke’s Bay mayor and co-chair of the Matariki (Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy) governance group Alex Walker set the scene for the day in the context of the overarching aims of the Matariki strategy.

“The vision of Matariki was that every household and whanau should be actively contributing to and benefitting from a thriving economy.

“Within this is the inclusion of social principles, and how we uplift those who are most vulnerable.

“Matariki is about coming together and collaborating to do the best we can for our people.”

This concept and vision of collaboration and working together was echoed throughout the event by the other guest speakers, including Ministry for Social Development East Coast regional commissioner Annie Aranui.

She highlighted the partnership between MSD and Ngāti Pāhauwera, the success of which earned them the Māori/Crown Relationships award at the recent Public Service Awards.

The partnership was recognised for how it enabled iwi to realise their plans and ambitions for sustainable employment in economically deprived areas of Hawke’s Bay.

With limited funding a lot had been achieved in high-need areas including placing 200 people in employment.

“Ngāti Pāhauwera wanted strong, healthy whanau and a better future in Hawke’s Bay for rangatahi – with something like this it is really important to understand your ‘why’ and share with your partners.

“What Ngāti Pāhauwera have achieved will be life-changing for those whanau and their hapu.”

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment chief executive Carolyn Tremain also attended the event, which she said was rare in that it had brought central and local government together to talk about the spirit of service.

“While all our agencies have focus areas, at the heart of it we all want to make New Zealand a better place for our families, our children and our grandchildren.”

She said occasions like today’s were a valuable way to recognise and celebrate the work being done in the public sector to achieve this aim.

Hastings District Council hosted the event and chief executive Nigel Bickle said local leaders all had a drive to achieve the Matariki aims but while there was much to celebrate about Hawke’s Bay, there were also some powerful challenges to address.

“We have to talk about the why we have big pockets of social deprivation – we have to tackle issues such as mental health and domestic violence.

“Our challenge as leaders is that we can’t solve these issues on our own, we need to work together to target these big issues so we can realise the long-term aspirations of Matariki.”

The second-half of the event was dedicated to hearing from people who were working on the front-line to improve lives in the community – including efforts by Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the New Zealand Police, Hastings District Council and CHB District Council.

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