To mark Public Service Day 2019, Rosemary Paterson, Divisional Manager for the Environment Division, reflects on how our values of manaakitanga, kotahitanga and impact are being brought to the fore.

Over the past few years we’ve spent quite a bit of time looking inwards in MFAT, and rightly so.  At the same time it’s good to look outside too.  For me, one of the great things about working at MFAT is being surrounded by fantastic colleagues.  I want to pay tribute also to the great people outside MFAT who add so much value to our mahi.


Rosemary Patterson

Rosemary Patterson

I’ve seen it in the emergency responses to events in the Pacific:  where would we be without our hard-working colleagues in New Zealand Defence Force?  On the consular side, we’re supported by a number of agencies.  The professionalism of people in Victim Support, for example, is second to none. 

For the past few years I’ve led an interagency team at international biodiversity meetings.  It won’t surprise you that we’re covering issues that are not within MFAT’s span of expertise.  It has been an absolute privilege to work alongside smart, passionate specialists on marine and conservation issues, or on genetically modified organisms.  It’s also an eye-opener to participate in interagency processes on domestic implementation where equally smart and passionate people are coming up with solutions to problems.  The work that the Environmental Protection Authority is doing to bring traditional knowledge into decision making is, frankly, very cool.  Speaking of agencies, our “cousins” in Antarctica New Zealand bring expertise across a range of issues.

Looking beyond that first circle, here’s to New Zealand’s world class scientists underpinning our policy decisions on, for example, climate change, Antarctica, conservation and oceans issues.  Their ability to explain complex issues to those of us who might have sacrificed science for other subjects at school is astounding.  (Yes, I’m regretting it now – hydrofluorocarbons or gene editing anyone?)

In our fisheries negotiations, we sit alongside both our fishing industry and our environmental NGOs.  Is it challenging?  No question.  Does it strengthen our position?  Yes, it does. 

I’ve seen on postings the power that New Zealand brings to relationships when a number of agencies are working closely together, pulling in the same direction.  Whether that’s providing support to New Zealand geothermal investment in Chile through regulatory, technical and high level political activity, involving MFAT, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand investors and geothermal experts.  Or working closely with NZTE’s investment experts in North America to gain maximum value from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

We know from experience that being open to different approaches and perspectives delivers more robust responses.  There are lots of challenging issues out there, and lots more examples of MFAT collaboration with external stakeholders.  Our APEC 21 team is living and breathing this close collaboration at the moment. There are IT solutions being designed for us by smart people.  Having the Ministry for the Environment’s Carbon Market Team co-located with us adds value both ways.

In all cases, these interactions bring our values of manaakitanga, kotahitanga and impact to the fore.  So let’s take a moment to acknowledge all of those talented individuals outside the Ministry, whether they are seconded into us, co-located with us, working with us here in Wellington or at posts, or helping respond to emergencies.