Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Fears over lack of local know-how

Lesley Longstone. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Lesley Longstone. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Education Secretary Lesley Longstone's resignation has highlighted concerns that overseas public servants are being parachuted into top roles in New Zealand without the necessary local knowledge and experience.

Ms Longstone, who came from Britain to take up the job, yesterday stepped down after little more than a year in the role.

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie didn't believe the fact Ms Longstone came from overseas was "a relevant factor in this outcome".

"New Zealand chief executives have found themselves in similar difficult situations. I don't believe there's an issue here."

Public Service Association National Secretary Brenda Pilott said Ms Longstone's resignation came not long after another British import Janet Grossman resigned as Work and Income boss after just nine months.

"The [State Services] commission needs to think long and hard about making overseas appointments and consider the unique complexities, demands and pressures of the New Zealand context," she said.

"High level public sector management requires not only competence but a deep understanding and experience of the issues past and present."

President of the Secondary Principals Association Patrick Walsh said Ms Longstone was an intelligent, hardworking and capable executive, but "it was always going to be a big ask for someone to come in from overseas to take over as secretary".

- NZ Herald

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