Top New Zealand official moves to head off further sexual harassment scandals

By on 29/10/2015 | Updated on 25/09/2020
New Zealand’s civil service chief, Iain Rennie, has pledged to speak more directly with senior leaders in government

New Zealand’s state services commissioner, Iain Rennie, has told Global Government Forum that he’s taking steps to ensure officials receive consistent training in what constitutes sexual harassment and bullying, after a senior civil servant resigned following claims of sexual harassment.

Rennie sparked controversy when he allowed Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority boss Roger Sutton to hold a press conference in which he described the claims against him as just “hugs and jokes.”

Rennie publicly apologised over his handling of the case, while resisting calls for his resignation.

Speaking to in an exclusive interview with Global Government Forum, he said that he and his team already published a piece of guidance on what constitutes sexual harassment in July and is due to release “a wider piece of system-wide guidance on conduct that constitutes harassment generally, including behaviours such as bullying” due to be completed by the end of the year.

Rennie said that, as well as providing consistent guidance for organisations across government, the work will also be “about having good, appropriate and regular training” so that both people joining the public service and existing officials understand the level of professionalism expected of them.


See also:

Our full interview with Rennie

New Zealand’s top civil servant pledges to meet more people, send fewer emails

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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