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 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) took on significant additional responsibilities during a year of considerable challenge for the country.
DPMC, supported by our business partners, worked at pace to ensure the successful establishment of new business units to manage those responsibilities and to bring on board associated new staff.
COVID-19 continued to confront New Zealand and the rest of the globe with a range of challenges, requiring resilience and innovation from Government, the public service, business and communities.
DPMC worked closely with agencies and other groups to ensure a coordinated and effective response to the evolving nature of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Response Group was established in DPMC with responsibility for integrating strategy and policy, system readiness and planning, risk and assurance, and the national communications and public engagement campaign.
Reporting directly to the Minister of Health, a Health and Disability System Review Transition Unit was set up to develop the policy response and design of the system operating model to transform the health and disability system, and deliver New Zealanders with better health outcomes. The Government response was announced in April 2021 and the Unit then continued work with the sector to implement those decisions.
The year also saw the establishment of a small Implementation Unit, reporting directly to the Deputy Prime Minister. The Unit is charged with monitoring and reporting on some of the Government’s critical initiatives to help ensure they remain on track and deliver the intended outcomes.
In December 2020, Ko tō tātou kāinga tēnei, the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain was delivered. The Government accepted the findings and agreed in principle to the 44 recommendations. The National Security Group within DPMC was tasked with leading the work to implement the recommendations, beginning with a series of 33 hui to engage with communities. It hosted He Whenua Taurikura, New Zealand’s first annual hui on countering terrorism and violent extremism, and supported establishment of an Implementation Oversight Advisory Group to support the lead Minister. A small unit was also established in DPMC during the year to support the Christchurch Call, aimed at eliminating terrorist and violent extremist content online.
Cabinet Office continued to support Cabinet and its committees and provided procedural and constitutional advice, particularly in the pre and post-election periods for the 2020 General Election, which was delayed due to a resurgence of COVID-19. The team also played an important role in the organisation of the State Memorial Service for His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Government House supported the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, as she continued to connect with New Zealand communities. Planning also began for the transition to the next Governor-General, Dame Cindy Kiro.
The advice of the Policy Advisory Group assisted the Prime Minister and Cabinet in a year of complex challenges and decision making, while the Policy Project continued work to help lift the quality of public sector policy advice.
Advice was provided by the Child Wellbeing and Poverty Reduction Group on the second set of child poverty reduction targets. It also published the first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy Annual Report, tracking progress and setting out the next steps for the Government’s vision to make Aotearoa New Zealand the best place in the world for children and young people.
As steward of the emergency management system, the National Emergency Management Agency continued to build its capability and capacity while also supporting the COVID-19 response and responding to emerging events.
The work to support DPMC through such a period of growth, pressure and change was supported by the Strategy, Governance and Engagement Group (SGE). Along with business partners in Central Agencies Shared Services, SGE helped keep us connected across DPMC so we could effectively deliver our work.
As a department, DPMC focused on progressing our three central organisational priorities of strengthening our commitment to diversity and inclusion through enriched understanding of te ao Māori, building cultural competence and further lifting the quality of the department’s policy advice.
The dedication and professionalism of staff right across the department was consistently demonstrated in a year that required great commitment, flexibility and stamina. Through our shared sense of purpose and collective effort we remained focused on advancing an ambitious, resilient and well-governed Aotearoa New Zealand.