Health department wins NZ’s top public service award

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday September 13, 2019

Source: Unsplash

An initiative that improves the health of low-income families with housing has taken the top gong in New Zealand’s Spirit of Service Awards.

Led by the Ministry of Health, the Healthy Homes Initiative was a joint effort between Housing New Zealand; the Ministry of Social Development; the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority; and Auckland Council.

The initiative aims to reduce hospitalisations by creating warm, dry homes for low-income families. It has so far delivered more than 46,000 housing interventions — which could involve installing new mechanical ventilation, heating sources, carpets or insulation — to 16,000 families.

The Spirit of Service Awards recognise the public servants who are delivering the best outcomes for NZ. State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said it was important to reward the people who actively try to make a difference. 

 “I really believe in the power of awards and recognition,” he said.

 “Public servants go about their work quietly without expecting any thanks. They work hard for New Zealanders. They come to work wanting to do the best job they can for their communities.  The select few who go the extra mile and make a real difference to their country deserve recognition and reward.”

Healthy Homes won the Prime Minister’s Award, and was chosen from the winners of other categories including Service Excellence and Leadership in Governance.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the initiative reflects the heart of the public service.

 “Public servants do great work every day to make New Zealand better and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders and this is a great example of identifying a role for government to find solutions,” she said.

 “Whenever I work with public servants, I sense a common purpose and belonging. The public service values that spirit of service to the community that I have always believed in.” 

 Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said the awards celebrate outstanding public services and cross-agency initiatives which can “protect the vulnerable and help to improve everyone’s quality of life”.

 “They are essential to our economic development and prosperity.They strengthen our communities and bind us together as a society. Each recipient of these Spirit of Service Awards has demonstrated passion and commitment every day,” he said.

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