Medals for public servants

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a new medal that “that recognises meritorious service in the Public Service”. It is anticipated that about five will be awarded each year.

The medal will be awarded to public servants who have provided service that has brought significant benefit or prestige to New Zealand or the Public Service, or who go above and beyond what is expected.

“The new medal will also help reaffirm the Public Service’s spirit of service to the community that New Zealand’s public servants bring to their work every day.

“This medal will recognise those public servants who have really made a difference.”

Public servants fill a wide variety of essential roles. It is unquestionable that we have to have a lot of them, but it is questionable how many we need.

How many are there? From 2017 Public Service Workforce Data

  • The number of public servants increased by 1,357 (3%) to 47,252 full-time equivalent employees at the end of June. This is largely due to operation of Mount Eden Prison returning to the Department of Corrections (it was previously run by private provider Serco). The Department of Corrections is now the largest Public Service department
  • The average annual salary in the Public Service in 2017 was $75,416. Average salaries vary greatly among departments, ranging from the lowest at $65,701 (Ministry of Social Development) to the highest average of $134,658 at the State Services Commission.

So they are generally well paid. The median weekly earnings from paid employment to June 2017 was $929 per week, which $49,868 annual earnings.

Note that the public service is a part (16%) of the state sector, which is a part (13%) of the total workforce.

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From the Beehive: New medal for public service

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today announced a new medal that recognises meritorious service in the Public Service.

The medal will be awarded to public servants who have provided service that has brought significant benefit or prestige to New Zealand or the Public Service, or who go above and beyond what is expected.

“Recognising and celebrating public servants who have been exemplary or a model to others is an important way to promote and acknowledge the work of the public sector,” Jacinda Ardern said

“The new medal will also help reaffirm the Public Service’s spirit of service to the community that New Zealand’s public servants bring to their work every day.

“Public servants rarely get acknowledged for the exceptional work they do that changes New Zealand society and lives for the better.

“This medal will recognise those public servants who have really made a difference.

“Some of the greatest contributions of public servants are not always obvious to the public. Public servants find solutions to New Zealand’s most challenging problems and implement big changes.

“They create new ways for New Zealanders to access services, whether it be cutting wait times to receive social support or designing innovative campaigns that lead to better health and education outcomes.

“This is the calibre of service we can be proud of because it changes peoples’ lives.

“It’s time we acknowledge high-achieving public servants.  New Zealand needs public servants prepared to take risks and find solutions to the big challenges. I hope that this new medal will inspire others to do that,” Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand’s current Royal Honours system includes extensive options for the recognition of state servants, particularly those in the Armed Forces and uniformed services, such as Police, and Fire and Emergency NZ. But there is no medal that exclusively recognises the work, achievements, and contribution of core public servants.

The introduction of a new medal is consistent with other jurisdictions, including Australia. It will be instituted by Royal Warrant.

The medal, which will be presented for the first time later in the year by State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes, will be part of the New Zealand Royal Honours system. It is anticipated that around five medals will be awarded each year.