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What policy topics are you interested in?


The New Zealand public service has a duty of stewardship, to look ahead and provide advice on future challenges and opportunities.

Good policy advice is informed by a strategic view on what’s important in the medium to long term – it takes a stewardship perspective. Good advice helps current and successive governments develop and implement their policies. It also supports the long-term interests of the public. Having a long-term perspective means your advice considers future trends, challenges, opportunities, scenarios and assumptions. Scanning the future helps you bring insights into today’s decisions. For example, how will changes to demographics, the climate, technology and social norms impact policy decisions and their outcomes going forward?

Stewardship is one of the principles of the Public Service Act 2020. In promoting stewardship, section 12 of the Public Service Act 2020 requires the public service to consider:

  • its long-term capability and its people
  • its institutional knowledge and information
  • its systems and processes
  • its assets
  • the legislation administered by agencies.

The Public Service Act 2020 (Schedule 6, clauses 8 and 9) also introduces a new requirement on departmental Chief Executives to publish a long-term insights briefing at least once every three years. These briefings are to explore the medium and long-term trends, risks and opportunities facing New Zealand and the options for responding to these matters. A suite of guidance materials has been developed to support government agencies in developing the Long-term Insights Briefings.

The following resources can help you get a better understanding of stewardship in the context of policy advice and why it’s so important.


At the Improving Intergenerational Governance symposium in March 2017, Andrew Kibblewhite, then Head of the Policy Profession, talked about The Challenges for the Public Service: In pursuit of Better Stewardship.

Policy leaders came together for the Policy Stewardship symposium in April 2017 to discuss what success in policy stewardship would look like.

Read the Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission’s guide on Free and Frank Advice and Policy Stewardship and its Frequently Asked Questions.

Aaron Maniam talked at a senior leaders’ roundtable in May 2019 on Foresight for Governance in Singapore.

The Policy Project co-hosted a roundtable with the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University on Future Generations – protecting the interest of future generations, and foresight. The lead speaker was Marie-Brousseau Navarro from the Office of Future Generations Commissioner in Wales.

We also encourage you to check out our:

Last updated: 
Thursday, 17 March 2022

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