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Michelle Hippolite: Reimagining public administration closing remarks

Michelle Hippolite: Reimagining public administration closing remarks

I remember being late in the airport at
Paris and over the mic it was saying Madame Hippolite please get to the gate
and I thought who are they talking about? Of course I discovered they were talking
about me and the reason I’m referencing that is
because that’s how complex our histories are. The Hippolites, my husband’s family came just before the Treaty of 1840 was signed, had a couple of liaisons and said
we have a very dark coloured Hippolite family and we have a very light-coloured
Hippolite family and what I was struck about in coming to Australia is that
our histories are interesting and complex and they are shaping the
dialogue that we have continued to have today because much of what we’ve
traversed in the last couple of days is about human experience – and the human
experiences are creating collisions they’re creating conflict and they are creating
opportunity to imagine something else than what we have seen. But I want to pay
homage to the proposition of day one about remembering because we don’t
remember much about Charles Barron Hippolite who came to Aotearoa because it’s just a part of our history we thought it didn’t matter
because what matters is what we do at home – in Aotearoa New
Zealand. I think I can speak for our New Zealand
colleagues is we listen to your questions here in Australia, we listen
to the way you talk about what this means in your country – Commonwealth or
state – you have some complexities that we haven’t quite I think got a
grasp for because we have two degrees of separation. Most of the New Zealanders here we know each other professionally and in a family context we know we are related to somebody by two degrees and I think that
is a feature of our size that we are able to maintain a network and a
connection in a way that means we know who’s going to challenge the thought
and the theory of what it means to be a colonised nation. The thought and the
theory that Marcia Langton challenged us with all the rhetoric of how poor the
outcomes look for our people, that the network that we have in Aotearoa is so
small and yet so big and so I’ve been a bit struck by that I’ve seen
this many a time when I’ve come to to Australia but the stark challenges
that exist have a unique dimension. We have them in Aotearoal but there is,
because of country, just something quite unique about that. The Hippolite family
have a really great opportunity to look after the tuatara in the top of the south. We have one island that’s dedicated to go to our Tuatara – our dinosaurs of Aotearoa have lived for a very long time and as kaitiaki of the
tuatara one of the interesting facts about this creature is that he and she
said she’d be skinned every year so they have to get ready to adapt to whatever
the environmental challenges might be and if they keep having lots of babies
they start to eat themselves and so every now and then the tuatara are
redistributed across Aotearoa so we can keep that population
of animal life but so that they don’t eat each other and so I want to pick up
two themes from what happens to the tuatara and the first one is about how
we have to continue to adapt to the challenging environments that we face: m
the political, geographical, the agency the relationships we have in government
and with our communities across the country mean that our preparedness to
adapt, to restrategise and reimagine can’t wait for the long story.
Now interestingly I was listening to some side commentary as some of us who
on panels talked about the long story, you know the long game that we’re in and
I too use that phraseology: it’s a long game. Then I realised some of us were
saying well it might be a long game but we actually need to get something done
tomorrow not wait for next year or the next election. How can we all be the
agents of change because we can’t wait for tomorrow. So our windows as we know in a political context are three to four years and our obligation to get ready to
adapt to the environment before we shed our skin is really important. Some of the tuatara have three eyes these two and then one in the middle
that enables them to look around and see what else is going on and so I’ve got a
few call-to-actions which is related to the third eye and I’m going to use the
phraseology of ‘imagine’ to talk to each of the things that I think we’ve
traversed while we’ve been here the last couple of days. The first one of course
is ‘I’ and my colleagues have talked about the insight that we have have been able
to talk with each other about. My call to action for each of us is to find ways to
share insight on different platforms. My colleague talked about digital platforms
being a vehicle some of us have been left behind in this digital
revolution and sometimes I don’t like it. Sometimes I don’t think the digital
platform promotes good value sometimes I think it makes people do
stupid things say things that they actually don’t mean but it’s too late
because they’ve pushed the button. Nonetheless I think it’s an opportunity
for our insight to be made more accessible to our own communities and to
others. There is much richness and intelligence in this audience and I
think as we pull together as a collective our capacity to talk about what
is great but actually what is hard and how we’ve found our way through that
there is and I know some have already gone home but I think the potential here
to talk about those stories that act as a bridge between one the past and to the
present and what it might mean for the future is actually in our hands. Next
letter is ‘M’ – I think we’ve found mate. So mates are only as good as the energy
that we put into those relationships and we’ve again traversing that but I use
the term mate or aunty, brother, sister whanaunga as we would say at home
because we should maximise our mateship to turn relationships into
something that is more than seeing each other every now and then. The impact of a
wider collective network is something that we saw when the rugby league game
happened. The symbolism of that rugby league game where two indigenous peoples
turned up dressed doing their thing and ready to go I think was more than just a
rugby game and there’s something in mateship that comes between us in our two
countries. ‘A’ for action. We do a lot of talking many of us do we have a saying
at home less hui an more do-ey – less talking, more action so my call to
action for all of us you know it doesn’t have to be huge,
take a nugget, make a difference, talk to somebody else about it and spread the
movement of us imagining what the public service can be when it
understands indigeneity. ‘G’ for gains – all of us live in this narrative
of the socio-economic demise of our people I call it the misery story.
I’m intolerant of it. I think you no let’s to talk about the possibility story what
the potential looks like but you know we don’t measure potential we measure
misery. We’ve got to find different ways in the conversation. In the data
workshop which I didn’t attend but I know that is about what is possible,
what gets measured, what gets collected and how do we turn it into actual
insights that take our narrative from misery to possibility and I’d like to
think I’m joining with community, academics and those of the public
service do your part of that movement about the big indigeneity concepts that
exist in both of our countries. Nearly there, ‘I’ as I was saying I don’t
doubt that we’re all intellectually able I hope that we’re all clever and clever
for me means you combine not only what you learn in your head but you do bring
that heart and that spiritual dimension to your engagement in your work. I heard
one of the Aunties say that gee some people might think that’s a bit cuckoo. I
don’t think that’s cuckoo I think that for me as Māori. But not everybody
understands that so that is our challenge how do we bring insight to say:
this is a pathway to possibility not to stay in misery. ‘N’ for New Zealand I
think we’ve got some thinking to do at home. We have started
to think about what does the public sector have to do to deliver better for
Māori so that’s a wero to us that’s a challenge to us, a call to action and I’m
going to undertake in front of my colleagues to pull a few of them
together so that we can think about how we can talk about what we’ve experienced
here at ANZSOG and at previous conferences to maintain momentum rather than just
wait for the next conference and ‘E’ that last part of ‘imagine’ – I reckon we have
to enjoy ourselves. If what you do is a drag then you’re in the wrong job. This
stuff gives us grey hair it’s giving me grey hair. I never started
dyeing my hair until I became a chief executive but we have to enjoy what
we’re doing and I don’t doubt the passion that we all have but if we
start to sound like a broken record perhaps it is time to do something else.
I’ve not heard that here because we all have a passion for what we’re doing.
So imagine, go beyond the analytics, go further than the analytics so that we
are engaging and building the bridges and helping ourselves and our colleagues
to have the courageous conversations as it’s called these days and doing it with
integrity and honesty and entering those discussions and with concepts
that can be broken down because words mean different things to different
people regardless of what language they’re in. And so that’s me
I think it’s been a wonderful couple of days I want to acknowledge my colleagues
who have come from Aotearoa New Zealand. We’ve had a great time.
I think a number of us really enjoyed the wairua, the tempo of last night’s
dinner really struck by I forgotten his name already, the AFL player (Adam Goodes), I didn’t expect that much honesty. I didn’t expect somebody to
speak truly to what his experience was and as those who work with communities
I reckon people can see whether we have been honest or not and because our
language depicts that and the way we convey our thoughts being very inspired
by all of the panelists here and in the small rooms – very diverse actually most
of the panels have been very diverse from one end of the spectrum to another
but this format of having time to talk together to hear different perspectives
either from our two countries and our American colleagues – awesome and so it’s
given us much food for thought. At home we would thank the organisers so we’re grateful to ANZSOG and the Chartered Accountants from
Australia New Zealand. Hope you picked up your torch and we’d also thank the cooks
even though they’re the hired help what we eat and drink brings us
sustenance to keep our minds going during the two days so I want to acknowledge all the ringa ropu all the ones with the red t-shirts on we know and
organising these events that nothing can happen without people like those wearing
the red t-shirts so I want to acknowledge all your patience, guidance I
was hoping we weren’t going to have a fire because I don’t know how the heck
we were going to get out that small door so not only do we come not only has our minds and hearts been
sustained over these last couple of days we’ve been supported to have a good
experience and a great experience that really means our call to action and the
core for each of us to think about is what are we going to do to keep the
magic going. Kia Ora tatou

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