Chief Executive’s foreword
Mahia i runga i te rangimārie me te ngākau māhaki
With a calm mind and a respectful heart we will always get the best results
The COVID-19 pandemic cast a shadow across the globe this year, with health, social and economic consequences that will be material for some time to come.
Meeting the challenge of COVID-19 brought into sharp focus the purpose of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) – advancing an ambitious, resilient and well-governed New Zealand.
As the system leader, DPMC began to coordinate the response to COVID-19 as it emerged overseas. The National Security System (NSS) and the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) were activated. An All-of-Government group was established alongside the Ministry of Health to further enhance cohesion and depth of response. Chief executives met regularly, including as the Officials' Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC), to underpin coordination and to provide advice to the Prime Minister and Ministers.
The public service responded at pace in a highly complex, fast-evolving environment, with the wellbeing of all New Zealanders at the centre of the approach. All business units in DPMC provided people and resources to the combined effort, as did other agencies.
Maintaining a well-governed New Zealand during this period required working in different ways. Cabinet Office supported virtual Cabinet meetings as well as the COVID-19 Ministerial Group. The Policy Advisory Group in DPMC continued to provide advice to the Prime Minister and Ministers as they managed far-reaching and diverse issues.
In what was a particularly challenging year for New Zealanders, the NSS and NCMC were also activated following the eruption of Whakaari White Island. The eruption sparked a swift response from emergency services and health professionals. One week before the eruption, on 1 December 2019, the National Management Emergency Agency (NEMA) came into being, as a departmental agency hosted by DPMC. NEMA replaced the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) as part of a programme of change for New Zealand’s emergency management system. It has a national leadership role and is charged with ensuring people and communities are at the heart of the system.
Looking to the future, New Zealand’s first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy was released with the vision of Aotearoa New Zealand, being ‘the best place in the world for children and young people’. Its development was led by DPMC's Child Wellbeing and Poverty Reduction Group and included input from 10,000 New Zealanders, more than half of them children and young people. The Strategy sets the direction for short and longer-term government policy and action, with a programme to be led and delivered by 20 government agencies.
The National Security Group published New Zealand’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy in early 2020 to help protect New Zealanders from terrorism and violent extremism of all kinds. The comprehensive Counter-Terrorism work programme focuses on reducing the threat and building social cohesion, while ensuring systems and capabilities are in place to act early if needed.
The Global Settlement between the Crown and the Christchurch City Council was a significant milestone in the return to local leadership nearly a decade after the first of the Canterbury earthquakes. Although small and reducing in size, DPMC’s Greater Christchurch Group played a key role in delivering this settlement and continued to work closely with partners.
Our staff at Government House supported the Governor-General, Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, as she hosted the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during their visit to New Zealand in November. Their Royal Highnesses visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and also engaged with other communities on issues such as the environment and sustainability.
Efforts across the Department have been supported by our Strategy, Governance and Engagement Group (SGE), and Central Agencies Shared Services (CASS). SGE provides the glue as we build our capability as an organisation, continue to deliver on government priorities and provide leadership as a central agency. Underpinning this are the values that continue to guide us; we are courageous – kia māia, we are connected – kia honohono, we are committed – kia manawanui, and we do it with respect – kia taute.