New Zealand prime minister John Key announces new top civil service post

By on 03/05/2016 | Updated on 25/09/2020
Peter Hughes (pictured) will take over from Iain Rennie as the next State Services Commissioner and Head of State Services

New Zealand’s prime minister John Key has today announced education chief Peter Hughes as the next state services commissioner and head of state services.

Hughes, who holds a post-graduate degree from Harvard University, will take up the most senior civil service post on 4 July.

He replaces Iain Rennie who steps down in June after eight years in the role.

Hughes has been chief executive and secretary for education since February 2013.

Before that, he was professor of public management and head of the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington for two years, following a ten-year tenure as chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development – New Zealand’s largest government department.

He began his career as a clerk with the Department of Social Welfare where he was promoted through policy and operational leadership positions before entering executive level management in the New Zealand Income Support Service.

He also previously served as deputy director-general of Health, chief executive of the Health Funding Authority and Secretary for Internal Affairs.

After graduating with a BA in English literature from Victoria University of Wellington in 1981, a post graduate diploma in business and administration from Massey University in 1985, he obtained a Master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University in the United States.

He is a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management and the New Zealand Institute of Public Administration and was made a Hunter Fellow for services to Victoria University in 2010.

He is also a fellow of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Hughes was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012 for services to the state, and in 2013 was voted Wellingtonian of the Year in the Government category.

Key said today: “I am very pleased to appoint Peter Hughes as the next State Services Commissioner and Head of State Services.

“Peter has dedicated his working life to the public service and is one of New Zealand’s most experienced and respected public service chief executives.

“The state services commissioner is a vital role, leading and overseeing the performance and integrity of the state services, employing most public service chief executives, as well as driving the ongoing improvements of the state sector and how it operates.

“Peter has strong relationships with other public service leaders, ministers and Members of Parliament across the political spectrum, as well as business, industry and union leaders. He will be an effective leader of our public service.

“I would like to thank Iain for his work, he has made a significant contribution to New Zealand state services. I wish him all the very best for the future.”

The state services commissioner is appointed under the State Sector Act 1988 by the governor-general on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and with the minister of state services overseeing the recruitment process on the prime minister’s behalf.

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See also:

Interview: Iain Rennie, state services commissioner, New Zealand

Andrew Hampton, chief talent officer, New Zealand government: exclusive interview


Interview: Jane Halton, Secretary, Department of Finance, Australia

Colin MacDonald, CIO for the government of New Zealand: Exclusive Interview

Interview: Gabriel Makhlouf, Treasury, New Zealand

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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