Outgoing Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf received glowing tributes from the Government ministers and his public sector boss who thanked him for his leadership at a farewell function tonight in the Beehive.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and State Services Commission Peter Hughes both paid tribute to Makhlouf's eight years of service, but both acknowledged the unusual circumstances they were in.
Hughes, his employer, has ordered an inquiry into Makhlouf's actions and advice to Robertson during Budget week which is being conducted by Deputy State Services Commissioner John Ombler.
What was originally described by Makhlouf as a systematic hack on the Treasury website turned out to be the National Party opposition using the search bar to get early access to Budget information.
Makhlouf is scheduled to leave on June 27 to head Ireland's central bank.
In his speech he made no reference to the scandal that has enveloped the Government since the non-hack.
He said he was proud to leave the books in good order, proud of the international recognition New Zealand got and most proud of Treasury people.
One of his proudest moments was listening to Robertson deliver the Wellbeing Budget and his greatest success was having gained citizenship.
"My greatest success is that when I arrived at the Treasury I was a Brit and when I leave, I will be a New Zealander. Kia Kaha."
Hughes said the current situation had been hard for Makhlouf personally and professionally and that he had been dealing with it with professionalism.
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Makhlouf had led a culture change at the Treasury. It had become a place of diversity and inclusion and he had developed Treasury's relationship with Maori.
He had also helped to manage the finances through the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes and helped to bring the books back to surplus.
"Thank you from the people of New Zealand. Our country is a better place for your work."
He said Makhlouf had brought "strong leadership and a great deal of personal integrity" to Treasury.
He had been "authentic and straight up" and had been calm and unflappable.
"I will certainly miss your calm authority," Hughes said.
Both Makhlouf and Hughes talked about the collegiality of the team of public sector chief executives, many of whom were present.
Grant Robertson said that "notwithstanding the current situation" it was a chance to acknowledge Makhlouf for everything he had done including his role in the Wellbeing Budget.
"Gabs I believe it is your work in the further development of the Living Standards Framework and the push you have given to your department and indeed to the wider public service that has launched a transformation of the way we do Budgets and, I hope in time, the way we organise public services as well.
"I don't believe there will be many secretaries of the Treasury that will be able to leave knowing they had that much of an impact on the core operations of the Treasury."
Robertson also said Makhlouf had changed Treasury to be more reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand "not just in the make-up of the people and their backgrounds but also in the attitudes … to its place in the public sector and to its place in the wider New Zealand community".
Responding to criticism by the New Zealand Initiative and the Taxpayers' Union that Treasury has weakened under Makhlouf, Robertson said: "Actually Treasury should have economists but it should also have people from other walks of life who should also aspire to be part of an organisation that delivers to New Zealand better living standards and Gabs, I am grateful to you for your leadership."
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Greens co-leader James Shaw and Cabinet minister Shane Jones were among those at the event which was hosted by Robertson.