Centenary of the Public Service Act

Imelda Bargas, a historian who works on our sister site NZHistory, writes about an important piece of legislation that was passed 100 years ago today.

Forget the Melbourne Cup and the US elections – today we’ve got our something of our own to get excited about.

7 November is the centenary of the Public Service Act. So, if you manage to squeeze in a morning, lunch or afternoon tea break today (in between serving the public, for those of us who work in the public service) we encourage you to look at some of the excellent content on our Manatū Taonga – Ministry for Culture and Heritage websites about this event and the New Zealand public service more generally.

A group of public servants (the cast of Glide time, predecessor of Gliding on – click for image credit)

A group of public servants (the cast of Glide time, predecessor of Gliding on – click for image credit)

The Public Service Act created a framework for New Zealand’s bureaucracy and made it more independent from the government of the day. You can find out about the passage of the Public Service Act on NZHistory: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/page/public-service-act-passed-law.

You can learn more about the man behind it, Alexander Herdman, a senior minister in the new Reform Party government, in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3h18/1.

You can also read about the Public Service generally on Te Ara: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/public-service.

Those of you who have a long commute home might like to download the series of talks jointly run by Manatū Taonga and the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ) to mark the centenary of the Public Service Act from our podcast channel: http://newzealandhistory.podbean.com/.

We know some of you prefer ‘tree books’ – you could search out a copy of Alan Henderson’s history: The quest for efficiency: the origins of the State Services Commission, and many other histories of government departments and state activity (quarantine, Labour Department, tourism to name a few) produced by the History Group here at Manatū Taonga, including our latest publication: Social developments: an organisational history of the Ministry of Social Development and its predecessors, 1860–2011.

Or, for an alternate history, perhaps check out an episode of Gliding on available from one of our friends in the culture and heritage sector, NZOnscreen: http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/gliding-on-1981.

Warmest Public Service Act centenary wishes from the NZHistory team and the rest of Manatū Taonga.

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