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Public service achievement honoured by Aotearoa New Zealand’s 2023 Te Hāpai Hapori/Spirit of Service awards

23 August 2023

News and media


The hard work and excellence of public service agencies across Aotearoa New Zealand has been rewarded at the 2023 Te Hāpai Hapori/Spirit of Service awards. The fifth annual awards were held at the Te Papa museum in Wellington on 16 August, to recognise exemplary work which has made a positive impact for Aotearoa New Zealand.

New Zealand Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes said it was important to acknowledge and reward public service.

“Public servants come to work every day because they want to make a difference,” said Mr Hughes.

“They care about the people they serve and want the best for our families, communities, and our country. The Spirit of Service Awards acknowledge the contribution public servants make every day.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins presented Te Tohu a te Pirimia | Prime Minister’s Award to Te Tira Tiaki | Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) National Cyber Security Centre (and industry partners) for its work to achieve better cyber security outcomes through partnership with industry. This collaboration provides near real-time threat intelligence information and strengthens New Zealand’s cyber defence capabilities.

He described the winners as ‘a group of unsung heroes, working tirelessly behind the scenes to protect New Zealanders and the systems we rely on’. The judges acknowledged the agency’s innovation and its commitment to continuous improvement of services and sharing data through genuine partnerships.

As part of our commitment to supporting public service excellence, The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) sponsored the Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Mahi Whakahaere | Leadership in Governance Award which was won by The Border Executive Board, an interdepartmental executive board, for their work in delivering an integrated and effective system that enables the prosperity and security of Aotearoa New Zealand through a safe and smart border.

ANZSOG Dean and CEO Adam Fennessy congratulated all nominees for the award for their work in promoting good governance and delivering results for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The winner is an outstanding example of public sector governance,” he said.

“This board has played a crucial role in delivering better social and economic outcomes for New Zealand under extremely challenging circumstances. Since its establishment, it has led the way in establishing best practice governance principles and guidance for Interdepartmental Executive Boards and sharing these learnings as widely as possible.”

Othe Award winners were:

  • Te Tohu Oranga Angitū | Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Raewyn Sowter for her spirit of service to the community. A respected and influential leader, Rae possesses the ability to draw out the true potential of others and guide them to success. She is best described as a ‘champion for Kaipara’. Her mahi is woven with manaaki for everyone she meets.
  • Te Tohu mō te Hiranga o te Mahi Kaupapa Here | Excellence in Public Policy Award was awarded to Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education and Tatauranga Aotearoa | Stats NZ for their Equity Index Project. This is a complex, multi-workstream system shift and investment to support ākonga facing socio-economic barriers to educational achievement.
  • Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Rangatahi o te Tau | Young Leader of the Year went to Saunoa (Noa) Samasoni for her work with Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities. Noa led the team responsible for managing the major works required following January’s Auckland floods. Noa’s work impacted 657 flooded properties and helped to design the award-winning Te Mahi Ngātahi maintenance programme.
  • Te Tohu mō ngā Hua E Pai Ake Ana | Better Outcomes Award was awarded to Manatū Aorere | Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were awarded for its work in the New Zealand-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement. This is New Zealand’s most comprehensive free trade agreement to date, building strong trade and investment ties with the United Kingdom.
  • Te Tohu mō te Ratonga Whakahirahira | Service Excellence Award was awarded to two winners who both captured the breadth of work going on across the public sector to serve current and future generations.
    • The first award went to the team from Te Ope Kātua o Aotearoa | New Zealand Defence Force, Te Arawhiti | Office of Māori Crown Relations, Te Puni Kōkiri | Ministry of Māori Development, Te Tira Ahu Ika A Whiro | Veterans’ Affairs and Te Mata Law who returned the medals rightfully earned by the 28th Māori Battalion soldiers to their whānau. The judges said this work was important in bringing a sense of closure and restoring mana.
    • The second went to Te Tira Tiaki | Government Communications Security Bureau’s National Cyber Security Centre (and their industry partners) for their collaborative approach to cyber security, which was also selected for Te Tohu a te Pirimia | Prime Minister’s Award.

Two finalists were chosen as joint winners of Te Tohu mō te Tūhonotanga a Ngāi Māori me te Karauna | Māori Crown Relationships Award. Both captured the evolution and strengthening of the Māori Crown Relationship.

Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Uru Taumatua, Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora | Ministry of Social Development, Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health, Te Arawhiti | Office of Māori Crown Relations, Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education, Oranga Tamariki | Ministry for Children, Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga | Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Hīkina Whakatutuki | Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Te Papa Atawhai | Department of Conservation were awarded for the signing of He Tapuae (Tūhoe Service Management Plan) in 2021 signifying the Crown commitment to delivering on the aspirations of Ngāi Tūhoe.

Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga | Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Te Puni Kōkiri | Ministry of Māori Development received the award for Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga Māori Housing Prototypes. This is a four-year commitment to creating meaningful change in the future of housing and empowering Māori to determine the best approach for their communities.