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OGP GovTech Graduate Workshop 17 February 2021

Active Citizenship

Government needs to reduce the cost of engaging and encourage the desire to.

Explain how Government processes work in a simple way. You could use apps and different platforms. In the UK you can take a picture of a pothole and it can be sent to the appropriate people.

Some people don’t know what they don’t know. It’s hard to know how to get involved.

People need to see actual outcomes of initiatives; they want to know if it was successful and the end result. Make people more aware of the fact their action has a consequence. When people have more information, they feel more confident to engage publicly.

Who is in New Zealand? Are you counting people who aren’t citizens? They have rights to influence New Zealand.

Are people on visas involved? Everyone should be. Public servants are from administrative part.

Need to look at what Government is aiming for. Residents of New Zealand have different values and what not. A representative sample of New Zealand is different than citizens. The IR bright-line compliance applies.

Need to research what group is getting the most disenfranchised. Potentially young people or new immigrants. Need to work with Māori and Iwi leaders. Older people are still involved just less involved online.

More civics education is needed. I didn’t learn anything in primary and secondary school. When I did learn more that’s when I decided to continue my studies.

Disparity it set up when we’re young and at school. I did heaps and even then, it wasn’t enough. If you do Cambridge, you’re not leaving with a sound understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi. If you did it properly it could have really positive effects on the country. Particularly if you look at the roles private school students have a higher chance of getting in to, they should learn about the Treaty and civics.

Make civics part of the curriculum. Make it something where you can show leadership. Could do Model UN but for the NZ government, or learn about the census, submissions etc.

Those who have made it though the system have a better connection. There are some that get left behind and won’t have been heard.

Local government is the most visible level of government.

There should be community hubs people could go to where central government can bring in a few different agencies, have direct communication with communities. This would help the community accessing government and help with silos.

Government needs to be more responsive to people trying to change things. This would increase the desire for people to engage in political stuff, small scale and large scale. They would also have an increased desire, a secondary effect, to learn about government. You need more government information about what’s happening coming through things like Facebook ads, actually reaching people.

Friends and family feel like they don’t get listened to. They get no response from a council member. Anger and pessimism towards government as a whole can be created from one experience.

There’s a narrative that a petition won’t change anything.

People also see good stuff government does as the governments job and then the bad things that happen are focused on.

Parents told me that I should join government because they need more diverse voices.

I came from a large country and have a different background and what I’ve noticed about New Zealand is that it’s a small country and New Zealanders seem timid about trying new things, be competitive, push boundaries and go forward. We have been bold in the past with women’s suffrage which was bold and innovative. There’s a dichotomy between that and not wanting to move forward. There’s a lot of unspoken tall poppy syndrome.

Ex British Colonies with a Westminster system do things very differently to say Spanish, wildly variable. They do stuff, revolution. Whereas the Westminster system is stable and progresses things very slowly.

There is that petition by the Green party to ban conversion therapy with over 100,000 signatures. This shows that you can create something to hold to government and put pressure on.

Voting is a core part of Active Citizenship but its quite blunt. It’s saying I support your platform but then they’re probably quite a few things that you don’t support as much in their policies. It would be great to have more say in how your chosen party prioritises its work.

Voting is great for national issues but with potholes etc we need more open local government.

National does too though. We could have a much more participatory democracy way of doing things. This would help with urban planning, environmental issues, getting people to have an immediate say.

Look at the youth vote. It would’ve been nice to know how to vote.

Who is involved in the big policy questions? Involve the people affected. Actually try and explain to people why it matters to them. Give an introduction to it, its about a bit of give and take.

What is the purpose of government? Depends on who is in power. Should government be there to make sure we are okay when national disaster hits or should we go above and beyond or does that hinger our evolution. We will forever be a developing country if government is assisting us. Or if we take risks and fail and get supported by government to get back on track.

Where is the right balance for health care – with private health, all risk is on public. Insurance could be done by government. Could take a capabilities approach, equal opportunity for free healthcare and education. People are born into poverty, we should give people capabilities to build, then they can vote on what’s right and wrong. Look at Martha Nussbaum’s work.


There should be more openness about what’s happening in government. 

People come to me as a representative of my agency and want to solve anything related to IR etc. Or asking is this a scam I received from same agency. I forward them on but there’s so many hoops for people to contact the right person. Need to weigh up privacy and efficiency. We need efficiency but obviously a privacy breach would be massive.

Ask the key questions – what are the best policies that provide value to society. What value does the public add to that. Need research, data and science.

The public can provide outlook on the values public servants should have, what we actually care about as a society. Wellington is a niche bubble.

Should government be reflective of people or the people reflective of government. Government does a lot of we know best, overruling local council.

Government should ultimately be reflective of how people think. If more people start being super nationalist the government should then respond to that even though there are moral dilemmas.

The public should be able to say this is what we care about and these are our values.

We need to get the public to communicate these values in the policy process. Citizen juries would have 20 to 100 people given all the info. They could then make an informed decision on different ways of doing things and they can express what they value.

There’s more use then just values though, the public should have a say in the exact stuff that ends up happening.

You could utilise people having the COVID app. You could have are you cold today or not, is housing lacking or not. Could have a citizen data collection exercise to show what’s happening where.

Ultimately you’re trying to serve the public and hear what they think matters. It’s important to feel heard.

One of the key issues is government as a platform when most key people who need to interact can’t use digital. Maybe the hub idea comes in here but learn because attempts in the past haven’t done very well. Look at which ones have worked and where.

At hubs you could be involved in the policy process and also get practical help, hire suits, have job interviews, get free hair cuts, reduce some of the massive barriers.

It would be really nice if we could expand what resources libraries have. Need more classrooms to use computers safely.

DIA service designers are designing for the invisible customer. People are required to have a government accepted ID, this can actively push them out. People are also digitally excluded. If you need to be using a government service to be involved some people are already excluded because they don’t have the pre requisite. For refugees its harder to be involved.


Need to centralise local government and get them all on the same page.

Centralise local government security. It’s a threat to have local administrators using different legacy security systems. Risk of state sponsored terrorism and individuals are at risk. Can government go in and update to latest system, Microsoft systems and give training.

Does local government need to comply to the NZ Information Security Manual for Government, it should? Primary schools? There is really sensitive information out there like that of young people or health care data.

There was the whole thing that the first lockdown wasn’t legal. Going to court was actually holding government to account.

FYI website shows when an OIA has been progressed.

Some people overload an area with OIAs to hurt an agency.

Outside of the graduate circle the public don’t talk about OIAs. Anti-vaxxers, or 1080 protestors, but they aren’t promoted to the general public.

OIAs should be promoted but then if they were it would be a massive workload.

I had no idea you could just send an email or tweet as an OIA. I thought it was a form or involved legal expertise.

New Zealand public doesn’t believe that ministers are accountable. David Clark during lockdown wasn’t really fired, just portfolios taken off him.

90s platform failed, that Minister didn’t take responsibility. Public does not trust the government in that regard. It’s all internalised. Sure there are repercussions but not extreme.

All repercussions are realised at election time. We care about what are you going to do. Doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of culpability. Managers go down if something happens.

Could encourage more accountability, a pound of flesh. Could you have an independent body like reserve bank but that has costs.

Ombudsman? Auditor General. You can use them to complain against public servants. I didn’t know about the Ombudsman until I saw it on reddit.

Could work on open data that is immediately accessible. Information that isn’t covered by the privacy act should be put in a public space and available. There are limitations I’m sure, deanonymization can be devastating. Can we have an all of government approach.

We need to make outcomes, goals, targets, KPI’s, what’s achievable transparent. What are the key indicators of your success at each level of government, make that transparent. Say if you’re trying to improve an initiative, when you completed it, and was it improved? Make it all visible to public. Start internally and open up government.

There’s a con to opening up. Possibility government will only choose indicators we can definitely achieve and projects won’t get funded if there was a risk they would fail. This is common to all goal setting.

Be open about how much people influence the government. Is it up down or down up. Need open and effective government trade offs.

With open data, if its open then people will ping you for requests and its untenable.