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Peter Hughes to retire as New Zealand Public Service Commissioner

14 September 2023

News and media


New Zealand Public Service Commissioner, Peter Hughes, has announced he will retire on 29 February 2024 after seven years in the role and more than 40 years of public service, including three years as Chair of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s (ANZSOG) Board.

Mr Hughes, who turned 65 in May, said leaving at that time gives the Government an opportunity to start its term with fresh leadership at the head of the Public Service.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve as Public Service Commissioner,” said Mr Hughes.

“I personally thank every public servant who has chosen public service as their career. I truly believe it is a noble thing to choose to serve your country and your fellow citizens. Every single public servant has my respect and my gratitude.”

Mr Hughes delivered ANZSOG’s John Paterson Oration in Sydney in 2018 on the theme of ‘the spirit of service’, which united people who chose to work in the public sector as a way of serving their community.

“I believe that public service is something we should acknowledge, celebrate and reward,” Mr Hughes said in the Oration.

“In my years of public service, I’ve felt a lot of things – frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned even – but never once have I felt that it wasn’t worthwhile.”

“Since I’ve been in this job, I start every speech by talking about public service and the spirit of service. It gets a hugely positive response as if I am articulating something that everyone believes in, but no one talks about anymore.”

“Underpinning everything and propelling it forward is the spirit of service. Our first and last responsibility as public service leaders is to support, protect and nurture that spirit in the people who give expression to it every day, every week.”

“They deserve that from us, and they also deserve a public service system that enables that spirit to be translated into the better services and outcomes that they are so very motivated to deliver.”

Mr Hughes said he remains committed to the role of Public Service Commissioner right up until the end of his term.

“The Public Service has an important role to play through the election period and formation of the Government and I am absolutely committed to leading that effort,” said Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes was ANZSOG Board Chair from 2017 to November 2020, leading the Board through the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.