COVID-19 Update

We’re creating a Fire and Emergency where everyone is included, welcome and safe

Fire and Emergency New Zealand was formed in July 2017 and brought together 14,000 people across 40 different organisations, all with different cultures and ways of doing things.

We are creating a new culture in our organisation going forward.

We’ve been working towards this for some time, here’s our story so far…

He waka
eke noa

in one canoe with no exception

When we formed, an agreement was co-signed with unions and associations to work together to protect the health and safety of our people.

This is our moment to create a place where everyone is genuinely included, welcome and safe. We must be the trusted organisation our communities deserve.

We’ve been delivering the work programme outlined in our Respect and Inclusion Strategy since June 2018.

In January 2019, the findings of an independent review of Fire and Emergency’s workplace policies, procedures and practices to address bullying and harassment was released. This review was our choice. It was our line in the sand – bullying and harassment have no place, not in our place.

We committed to creating an action plan to map out the busy road ahead within eight weeks of the release of the review.

Since releasing the initial action plan, we now have a three-year work plan in place.

We have just released our 6 month progress report for the positive workplace programme. Have a look, we've come a long way!

Addressing unwanted behaviour at Fire and Emergency

We are focused on creating a culture where everyone is safe, welcome and included, with an aim to eliminate bullying, harassment and victimisation at all levels of Fire and Emergency.

For behaviour change to happen, we need to know what’s acceptable, what isn’t and how to hold each other to account for unacceptable behaviour.

As a result of the independent review of Fire and Emergency’s workplace policies, procedures and practices to address bullying and harassment, and subsequent positive workplace culture work programme, we’ve worked with our unions and associations to create two documents to address unwanted behaviour:

We’ve consulted with our unions, associations and our people on both documents and are working to incorporate their feedback into the finalised Shared Code of Behaviour and Policy, expected in April.

We all deserve to be treated right

We have launched our internal video campaign to raise awareness of bullying and harassment and encourage people to take action. You’ll hear real stories that had big effects on people, reminding us we deal with tough stuff every day, so we need to make sure we look after each other. Let’s start here – everyone in one canoe with no exception.

Do you think these videos will encourage our people to think about what they say and do?

Give feedback on videos

Wondering how to best use these videos to facilitate a conversation?

Make use of A guide to leading positive cultural change.

Latest updates on our work

Behaviour and conduct office

A director of the behaviour and conduct office has been appointed and announced.

Shared code of behaviour

Commitment from Unions and Associations to support the development of a shared code of behaviour.

Support for our people

We’ve started a stocktake of our existing support channels.

As of December 2019

Established a project to make sure we have fit for purpose policies.

Policies and procedures

Building awareness and capability

We have run bullying and harassment awareness workshops.

Bullying and harassment complaints process

An interim complaints process is now in place while we work on a long-term solution.

Full programme and engagement plans

Draft programme and engagement plans developed. To be in place end of June.

Other work in progress

Volunteerism Strategy

We now have a Volunteerism Strategy to sustain, support and grow our volunteer base across the country. Read more…

Fire and Emergency is investing in learning tools to support people’s growth, development and innovation. Read more…

Learning tools

People Strategy

The People Strategy is being developed with help from people across our organisation. Read more…

Leadership development

We’ve been building our suite of leadership development opportunities, with more to follow. Read more…

Women’s development

Women in Fire and Emergency NZ is a network of women who promote and facilitate the participation and success of women in fire and emergency roles. Read more…

Afi Pasefika

We are extending the Afi Pasefika network across Fire and Emergency for safer Pacific communities in New Zealand. Read more…

Kaupapa Māori

We are drafting a strategic implementation plan so we can deliver on our commitment to working with tangata whenua for safer communities. Read more…

Safety, health and wellbeing

We’ve introduced several safety, health and wellbeing initiatives. Read more…

Respect and inclusion

Our strategy received Board approval in June 2018 and creates a vision for how we continue to build a respectful, inclusive and diverse Fire and Emergency. Read more…

Values were announced in April, an implementation plan is in development. Read more…

Living our values

We have launched our organisational strategic framework. Read more…

Strategic framework

We’ve put together a Respect and Inclusion Task Force to help identify and champion the many positive role models who exist in Fire and Emergency. Read more…

Enabling role models

Stories of our people

Our values sit at the heart of what we believe in and how we behave – but they’re no good on a page, they have to be lived.

Values must be lived to be relevant

When we support each other, we support our communities

Ruatāhuna is a tight-knit but isolated community in Te Urewera National Park. With the nearest fire station over an hour away, the community relies on local volunteer brigades to stay fire safe.

We want to share more positive stories about our great people. If you know of anyone who demonstrates our values in their Fire and Emergency work, let us know!

As a reminder, our values we want people to demonstrate are: we do the right thing, we serve and support, we are better together, we strive to improve. Email us your story ideas and it may feature here.

JUNE 2019

Taskforce meets to progress workplace culture change

We are building an organisation where our people feel included, welcome and safe. To help create that, the Respect and Inclusion Taskforce is driving and championing the work underway.

Kerry Gregory recently took up his position as Deputy Chief Executive – Service Delivery, a role that takes him to every corner of New Zealand, working with our dedicated people keeping New Zealanders safe. He sees first-hand the vital importance of a positive workplace culture.

What you walk past, you condone

APRIL 2019

Research to support recruitment

Recruiting isn’t an exact science, but Fire and Emergency undertook detailed research to ensure we’re addressing key workplace behaviours to attract the best people across a diverse set of backgrounds.

Keeping it close in Waimangaroa

There’s a tight family connection at the Waimangaroa Brigade on the West Coast, and it started when an eleven-year-old volunteered as a cadet. When Carmen Greenland turned 11, her mum ‘gently’ suggested she needed an after-school job or hobby.

Sharing our safety message in a new language

When Roy Breeze, Area Commander – Waikato, saw the multi-cultural growth in his local Hamilton communities, he decided something had to be done to ensure important safety messages were being understood and acted on. The Chinese population in particular had grown at a great rate.

APRIL 2019
APRIL 2019

Give us your feedback

If you have any questions, please email and someone will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

If you need support or want to raise a bullying or harassment complaint, please visit the ‘Support’ section of this webpage.

If you are media and have questions, please contact our media team by emailing


Seek support immediately if you’re feeling bullied or harassed.

  • Talk to someone you trust – this could be your manager, a peer support person, a union representative, a Regional Women’s Advisory Network representative, a human resources advisor or a safety, health and wellbeing advisor in your region.
  • Members can contact the United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) on 0508 832 269 or email
  • Members can contact the NZ Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) on 04 568 4583 or email
  • Members can contact the Public Service Association (PSA) on
    0508 367 772
  • Members can contact the Fire and Emergency Commanders Association (FECA)
  • Anyone can contact Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Services on 0800 327 669
  • Te Hiku (previously region 1), Ngā Tai ki te Puku (previously region 2),
    Te Ūpoko (previously region 3) personnel can contact Vitae Services on 0508 664 981,
  • Te Ihu (previously region 4) and Te Kei (previously region 5) personnel can contact Workplace Support on 0800 443 445, or 0800 333 200,
  • We also have external, independent, confidential counselling and support services available for all personnel and immediate families, at no cost.

An interim complaints process is now in place while we work on a more permanent solution.

This new process is designed to give people confidence that their issue will be received by someone independent from the incident or issue. The process is coordinated by the Behaviour and Conduct Office (BCO). The BCO will provide oversight, review and reporting of enquiries and complaints, and continue work to develop a future complaints process which is timely, transparent, trusted and fair.

This process is available for Fire and Emergency employees, contractors, volunteers and members of the public who want to raise a complaint of bullying and/or harassment, or to seek information about the options and process for resolving complaints.

Email or visit the Portal for more information.

Alternative options:

The images we have used on this page are from our Fire and Emergency photo library, if you have any concerns about the use of these images, please contact

© 2020 Fire and Emergency New Zealand


Sharing our safety message in a new language

When Roy Breeze, Area Commander – Waikato, saw the multi-cultural growth in his local Hamilton communities, he decided something had to be done to ensure important safety messages were being understood and acted on. The Chinese population in particular had grown at a great rate.

“In Hamilton, some suburbs have up to 13% of the public who speak Mandarin as their first language, and there are a lot of businesses and developers in the Waikato that are run by Chinese people,” said Roy.

So Roy decided to step up and learn Mandarin, to better engage with the Chinese community in their own language, and ensure fire and emergency safety messages were clearly understood. “I also wanted to see if I could learn something new, and test myself in my old age,” laughed Roy.

Roy found a local tutor, Ying Sun, and nine months later was able to have basic conversations, including speaking some Mandarin at a Chinese restaurant. “Mandarin, like English, can be difficult in that some words can have 10 or more meanings. I’ve had a few minor embarrassing incidents, but hey, you have to be brave and just keep trying. Plus, most people respect the attempt.”

By learning the language, Roy also developed a greater appreciation of the culture.

“One of the key things that I’ve learnt is that pleasantries aren’t culturally universal. For example, in English we say please and thanks a lot, but that’s not needed as much in Chinese. It doesn’t mean Chinese people are being impolite, it’s just that they show respect through the way they say certain things and through non-verbal cues. For me, it’s important to know this when dealing and communicating with members of the Chinese community, and to be able to understand things from their perspective.”

Roy has been working with Ying to develop text and audio instructions for Chinese communities, via her multimedia networks, to help them dial the emergency services. They will also be looking at how to translate fire-safety education packages such as the home-safety information.

“Mandarin is one of the most common languages in the world and Fire and Emergency needs to support a growing community in New Zealand, the same as we support other ethnic and at-risk groups. 

“The more we learn about other cultures and ethnic groups, the better we can protect and build resilience with all members of our communities,” says Roy. 

On a personal level, Roy would like to get to a point where he can have a basic conversation in Mandarin with members in his community. “In the longer term, I would like to be able to converse with Chinese businesses and community groups about building compliance and general home-safety education.” 


How we behave and what we believe in

  • Our values lay the foundation for everything we do. They bind us together, articulating what we believe in and how we work together to keep each other and our communities safe.
  • Values provide an organisation wide yardstick so we know what’s expected of us.
  • Our values will be incorporated into all aspects of how we connect with Fire and Emergency. We are each accountable.

Why it’s important

What we’ll do next

  • Develop a plan for embedding our agreed values into everything we do.
  • Confirm support for our values from unions and associations.
  • Develop a plan for a soft launch and roll-out of our values as part of the operating model design and delivery.
  • Embed our values in every position description for new roles from mid-April 2019 and through the organisational design tranches.

We need your input

  • Talk about values in your crew or team. What does living the values mean to you? What do you expect to see from each other? How can you incorporate them day to day?
  • Celebrate that as a unified organisation we have delivered these values together.

Values bind us together. They’re the clearest signpost of what we believe in and how we work together. As a new organisation, we’re developing strong, meaningful values that acknowledge the demanding work we tackle, and the absolute need for us to all be on the same page, delivering on what our communities deserve.

What we've done

We've announced the values, they are:

Watch this space for more information about how we will be making the values part of our culture.

  • We do the right thing – Kia tika
  • We serve and support – Manaakitanga
  • We are better together – Whanaungatanga
  • We strive to improve – Auahatanga

Leadership development

We’re implementing our new organisation’s ‘Leadership Framework’ and have been delivering leadership programmes for different levels of leaders across our organisation.

In 2018, we launched our Strategic Leadership Programme and piloted the new Incident and Leadership Development Programme, which focuses on building incident management and leadership skills.

We’ve run Volunteer Leadership Development modules in a number of our regions, and are extending this to the rest of the country this year.

2019 saw the launch of our new Role Transition programme for those moving into a Station Officer role, which is an operational management role.

All of our leadership programmes are supported by our Leadership, Management and Personal Effectiveness online resource Mind Tools.

In addition to these programmes, we partner with external leadership development organisations and management courses for our operational officers and leaders. We also support the United Fire Brigades’ Association on programmes that they deliver.


Supporting the people leading the way

  • Anything we build needs to be fully informed by the knowledge and insights of our people.
  • We need individuals to test and champion new ideas and bring ideas forward.
  • We need role models to reinforce appropriate behaviours and help address poor behaviours.
  • We need as many people as possible communicating our organisational goals and building a positive workplace culture. 

Why it’s important

What we’ll do next

  • Use the data from the workshop to design an approach to standing up and enabling a network of role models.

We need your input

  • Share stories or individuals or teams who are role models in building a positive culture.
  • Share ideas with your unions, associations or the positive workplace culture team about what is working well.

We have many role models in Fire and Emergency who promote a positive culture and demonstrate respectful and inclusive behaviours. We want to continue to support these people in doing the good work that they do.

What we’ve done

  • We have stood up a Respect and Inclusion Taskforce made up of our unions and associations, employee networks and supporting functions.
  • We have completed a workshop with our Respect and Inclusion Taskforce, Leadership Reference Group and He waka eke noa video storytellers on what it would take to stand up and support a group of role models. 

Values must be lived to be relevant

Our values sit at the heart of what we believe in and how we behave – but they’re no good on a page, they have to be lived.

Since we launched our values in June 2019, we’ve heard a number of stories from teams around the country exploring meaningful ways to bring them life. In Sumner, Chief Fire Officer, Daryl Sayer decided to front foot it and lead by example. At a brigade meeting he stood up and asked members to call him out on any words or actions that could verge on bullying, harassment or being disrespectful. He then gave the brigade the opportunity to stand and ask the same thing of each other. Every person stood up.

They also agreed that everything they do – from building a station to running a meeting should be measured against our values. As we embed the values throughout our organisation, we know their strength and impact will come from individuals and teams finding their own connection to the values and the behaviours they champion.


Strong leaders making it happen

What we’ll do next

  • We’re working on fine tuning the workshops based on pilot feedback and plan for a national roll out mid 2020.

We need your input

  • Commence planning for training pilots within the Respect and Inclusion work programme.
  • Leaders let us know your thoughts on the support you need when managing issues in your teams.
  • Let us know your thoughts on what skills and capabilities are important for leaders.

We all understand the value of effective leadership, but we need to make sure our leaders are supported and trained to build a truly respectful and inclusive workplace. We all have a role to play, but leaders especially must live and champion a culture where bullying and harassment is not tolerated – so we’re reviewing our leadership frameworks and tools to make them more relevant and effective.

What we’ve done

  • We have run bullying and harassment awareness workshops with over 300 people in NHQ and regional leadership teams.
  • We have designed and developed two workshops, four videos and e-learning courses to support them.
  • We have launched two of our videos along with a guide for leading positive culture change which have been embedded into two workshops.
  • The first workshop, Respect, is focused on creating a respectful workplace free of bullying and harassment. This workshop helps our people understand the causes, consequences and prevention of bullying and harassment. It focuses on the importance of recognising the impact of our own behaviours and influencing the behaviour of others.
  • The second workshop, Inclusion, is focussed on creating an inclusive workplace. This workshop equips our people with strategies to challenge our unconscious bias when it isn’t helpful. It helps people identify environmental triggers that can cause people to stereotype, exclude others and make poor decisions.
  • We have piloted these workshops in two regions and are now processing feedback from over 600 participants.

Volunteerism Strategy

Fire and Emergency’s Volunteerism Strategy will help us better sustain and support our volunteers.

The strategy acknowledges the role of our volunteers and upholds our commitment to volunteers and volunteerism. It explains why a strong volunteering culture and an effective model for volunteerism are critical for effective services and stronger, more resilient communities.

We are committed to the following principles, which will guide the decisions and actions of everyone, and against which we will hold each other accountable.

You can view the full Volunteerism Strategy, otherwise here’s an overview.

To enable and sustain volunteerism, we will:

  • Appreciate that volunteering is always a matter of choice
  • Make it easier to be a volunteer
  • Identify, share and grow what works for volunteers
  • Recognise volunteers, their employers and families, as well as their contributions.

To respect and involve volunteers, we will:

  • Involve volunteer perspectives in decision-making
  • Demonstrate openness, transparency and fairness
  • Operate with mutual trust and respect.

To serve and strengthen communities, we will:

  • Be responsive to local needs
  • Be inclusive and embrace difference
  • Build an environment that enables volunteerism to thrive.

Keeping it close in Waimangaroa

There’s a tight family connection at the Waimangaroa Brigade on the West Coast, and it started when an eleven-year-old volunteered as a cadet.

When Carmen Greenland turned 11, her mum ‘gently’ suggested she needed an after-school job or hobby. Straight away she joined the Waimangaroa Brigade as a Fire Cadet, where her aunt, Lynn Brooks, was already a volunteer. Today Carmen’s a Senior Fire Fighter, Lynn is Chief Fire Officer, Carmen’s mum Jeni is a Qualified Fire Fighter – and Lynn’s husband is now also on the team.

“I love what I do,” says Carmen. “On my 16th birthday I joined up as a recruit with parental consent, and I spent my 19th birthday on a Senior Fire Fighters Course – I’m hooked!”

In a small community, volunteering is critical and lending a helping hand runs deep in this family.

“We’re a small community and when I joined, it looked like the brigade could close. We’ve lost our school and our pub, so this brigade has become a hub for the community,” says Lynn.

“Lending a hand in a small community is vital, and like a lot of local families, ours has always helped out wherever we can – it’s just what you do!”

While it may be a little unusual to have a mother, daughter and aunt team in a small brigade, all three are quick to point out that the whole brigade operates like a family.

“We’re a really tight crew and we know each other well – our strengths and our weaknesses – so we jell together to make one really effective unit. You partner up with a strong person – and for me that’s often my daughter!” says Jeni.

All agree that trust and dedication are critical in emergency situations, working together for a successful outcome.

“Everyone’s equal in the brigade,” says Carmen, “no matter what your size, your strength, gender or background. When we train and work as a real team, we’ll always achieve what we need to.”

As Chief Fire Officer, Lynn is in total agreement with her niece.

“I think brigades need to reflect the communities they serve and that means a mix of age, gender and beliefs. We’re all here for the same reason, to serve our communities and keep them safe – that’s an amazing way to bind people together.”

And when it comes to offering advice to anyone considering volunteering, all three women speak the same language. “Just do it!”.

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Learning tools

Two tools Fire and Emergency has invested in are Beacon, our crowdsourcing ideas platform and Mind Tools, an extensive repository of online learning resources focused on leadership, management and personal effectiveness.

At a 2017 Volunteer Workshop, attending volunteers highlighted the need to have a place to submit ideas online and support our 14,000 people. Out of this idea came Beacon, our crowdsourcing platform and a way to harness the collective knowledge and ideas of our people. People can share their ideas on a current problem or post a ‘challenge’ the organisation is looking to solve. People can also suggest a topic that will become a future challenge, or they can suggest an idea for improving the way we do things at Fire and Emergency.

Check out Beacon (Fire and Emergency personnel only)

Mind Tools provides access to reputable, digestable and on demand information to support and develop the capability of our people. Mind Tools can support the growth of all individuals and encourage them to continually develop themselves. Users can access information on improving decision making and remaining agile. This also strongly aligns with the Fire and Emergency’s leadership development work. 

Check out Mind Tools (Fire and Emergency personnel only)


Clear expectations of ourselves and each other

  • Having a shared code for everyone means we all know what is expected of us individually and what we can expect of each other.
  • Acceptance of and adherence to a shared code of behaviour is an essential foundation to eliminating bullying and harassment from the workplace.
  • We will align with the standards of state service agencies.
  • We all need to understand and agree to what we are held accountable for.

Why it’s important

What we’ll do next

  • Ask our people what behaviours are important to them.
  • Develop the shared code, incorporating our values, behaviours, standards, and functions in the organisation, with input and review from our people, unions and associations.
  • Explore our alignment with sector agencies and industrial brigades.

We need your input

  • Tell us what behaviours you would like to see in the code.
  • Review the draft code and tell us what you think.
  • Tell us what help, support, and training you might need to understand and adhere to the code.

A shared code of behaviour means everyone in our organisation will be clear about what great behaviour looks like, and what unwanted behaviour looks like. It’s about having one explicit, binding code so we all understand the behaviour standards that will help make this an inclusive, respectful, safe place to work.

What we’ve done

  • Consulted with our unions and associations on a draft shared code of behaviour for everyone. We’re now undergoing consultation with all of our people to develop a final code of behaviour we can all agree on.

People Strategy

People are at the heart of everything we do and deliver. To best support our people, work has commenced on the creation of our People Strategy, gathering the voices and perspectives of our people and stakeholders across 20 workshops, with unions and associations and strategy owners, and with insight from our People Survey.

Focusing our efforts around a clear set of strategic priorities, our strategy will help people understand how their unique talents and strengths connect to broader organisational and strategic priorities, as well as our organisational values and vision.

Our People Strategy will also shape how we deliver people practices and experiences in the future, including recruitment, learning and development, and reward and recognition, as part of making Fire and Emergency a great place to work and volunteer.

Watch this space to get a copy of the People Strategy once completed.


Safety, health and wellbeing

In July 2017 we co-signed an agreement of shared commitment to safety, health and wellbeing with our unions and associations, has been updated in draft form and is ready for final approval and re-signing by current union and association leaders. Since then, we have been working together towards our aim of a workplace where everyone goes home safe and well, every time.

  • successfully implemented and rolled out the Safe@Work reporting and investigation system accessible to all personnel
  • expanded access to EAP and Vitae services to all our people and their immediate family members
  • provided free flu vaccinations to volunteers, with over 1000 volunteers using a voucher to receive their flu vaccination
  • run over 100 Psychological Wellbeing Workshops, with more than 1400 people attending
  • implemented our Safety, Health and Wellbeing Strategy as the basis for annual planning and prioritisation of initiatives such as the Psychological Wellbeing Workshops in 2019/20
  • developed wellbeing information and support for families, ready for piloting.
  • the annual safety, health and wellbeing work plan and focus of new initiatives for the 2020/21 year
  • enhancing our health checks programme for our people through continuing with the Health Standards project development being co-designed with unions, associations and networks representing the interests of personnel
  • safer management of contractors we engage, and who work alongside our people
  • embedding psychological wellbeing training, information and support into every aspect of life and development at Fire and Emergency from recruitment through to preparation for retirement.

We continue to work on:

Together we have:


Organisational Strategy

Over the past months, the Board and ELT have been working to develop a new long term strategy and strategic framework for Fire and Emergency. This includes an organisational vision, refreshed outcomes, strategic priorities, values and operating principles. Where possible, elements of this work has been developed in conjunction with our people, taking a co-design approach.

Our long-term Strategy will set out our higher level direction for the coming decades. Five Strategic Priorities will underpin our strategy. These will reflect what we believe are most important to focus on now, so we are well placed to respond to the challenges of the future. We will be working with some of our people to seek feedback and input into the strategy, over the coming months. We will look to launch our new strategy in the second half of this year, and we will give full effect to our new Strategy as we refresh our 2017-2021 Statement of Intent in 2020.


Tackling issues early, fairly and consistently

What we’ll do next

  • Develop a proposed complaints process and undertake testing with our people, including unions and associations
  • Set up a reporting and monitoring system for receiving, triaging and managing complaints

We need your input

  • Let us know what you need from a complaints process, including any training and education

This is a priority we’re determined to get right. We need a transparent process that is easy to access, fair, trusted – and moves quickly but meticulously. We’re creating a project team and engaging with unions, associations and our staff to design our complaints process. In the meantime, we’ll look at what short-term improvements can be made to create a central complaints point.

What we’ve done

  • Gained approval to set up a complaints process for managing all complaints

Women in Fire and Emergency New Zealand (WFENZ)

  • Currently women represent very small numbers of our operational personnel and those numbers get even smaller as they move into leadership roles. A large part of the Women’s Development work aims to address this specific gap.

Why it’s important

Supporting each other

  • We also provide support to anyone, regardless of gender or rank, who needs guidance on an issue they may be facing within our organisation.
  • We not only work directly with our network members, we work across the organisation to provide a diverse perspective on a range of activities, policies, strategies and work programmes.
  • WFENZ is endorsed by senior management, and our unions and associations. 
  • We welcome anyone who is supportive of our purpose to join their local network.

We need your input

If you would like to find out more, or join the WFENZ network, get in touch with your local network.

About the network

  • WFENZ aims to support, connect, retain and develop women across Fire and Emergency NZ.
  • We want all women to feel safe, connected and included. We don’t expect special treatment; we simply believe that everyone is equal, and we advocate for an inclusive and diverse workforce.
  • As a network, we provide advocacy, development and networking opportunities by bringing women together to share ideas and experiences.

Since the network was formally established in 2016, we have developed a Regional Women’s Advisory Network (RWAN) in each of the five regions. These RWANs are closely connected to our women on the ground, their regional leaders and our National Women’s Development team. Their insights are influencing our priorities in creating an inclusive workplace culture and, more specifically, helping to establish priorities for improving the recruitment, retention and development of women across the organisation.

What we’ve done


What you walk past, you condone

Kerry Gregory recently took up his position as Deputy Chief Executive – Service Delivery, a role that takes him to every corner of New Zealand, working with our dedicated people keeping Kiwis safe. He sees first-hand the vital importance of a positive workplace culture.

“Every day our people are exposed to massive challenges and stresses. Fire and Emergency is full of passionate people doing extraordinary things, but we need to put that same passion into respecting and keeping each other safe as well. Nobody in our organisation should carry additional stresses due to a lack of respect and inclusion,” says Kerry.

Kerry knows leaders have a critical role to play in the long-term cultural change and attitudinal shift we’re all embarking on – and he’s starting with being clear about his own expectations of himself.

“I think respect for others is at the heart of it, and I will hold myself to account every day to ensure I am genuinely living this. Certainly we need to be accountable for our performance – but we need to be equally accountable for our behaviour. I will be conscious of ensuring the way I work is in line with our values, and I’ll be expecting the same thing from everyone in our organisation.”

He believes everyone has a basic right to come into an environment and feel safe, respected and included, and their contribution valued. Even in the high pressure environment many of our people work in, he is pushing for people to release tension in the right way.

“We all have different ways of releasing pressure – black humour is one of them, but we need to understand it can often be seen as hurtful and negative. One of the first things to remember is that it’s okay not to be okay. If you’re feeling stressed, please reach out and talk about it. Know you are not isolated.”

He acknowledges not everyone has the courage, for a number of reasons, to speak up for themselves. He urges others to have a voice for those who feel they have to be silent.

“Don’t be a bystander. Call out bad behaviour in a respectful way. There’s an old saying in Fire and Emergency that’s as true today as it ever was – “What you walk past, you condone.” Stand up for what’s right, even if it’s not directly affecting you. Your support will give others courage to speak out, change behaviours and make us all stronger.

“Fire and Emergency needs to be the leading light in New Zealand on respect, inclusion and diversity. Our communities look to us for support and safety, and we give it unquestioningly every day. Let’s all genuinely commit to having that same unconditional support for each other.”


Afi Pasefika

The Afi Pasefika firefighter’s network started in 2003, after recognising the importance of reaching our Pasefika community within New Zealand. There are now over 80 Afi Pasefika members in Fire and Emergency across New Zealand including Communication Centres, NHQ and regional support staff. We have established three main groups in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with a smaller number of Pasefika firefighters throughout provincial New Zealand.


The right guidelines for the right job

  • Our policies and procedures to address bullying and harassment must provide sufficient detail for every single person to understand expectations and responsibilities.
  • We need to ensure we provide comprehensive guidelines that meet the State Services Commission’s Standards of Integrity and Conduct – being fair, impartial, responsible, and trustworthy.

Why it’s important

What we’ll do next

  • Consult with our people, Unions and Associations on the draft policy.
  • Produce a revised version based on the feedback.
  • Develop a set of How-to guides that support the policy so our people know what to do if they are affected by bullying and harassment and/or are supporting someone.
  • Complete stocktake of current policies, procedures, and guidelines to ensure alignment and consistency.
  • Identify what policies and procedures need to be revised or discontinued, and what new policies and procedures are needed. 
  • Develop an implementation plan so our people are aware of the resources and training available. 

We need your input

  • Tell us what you think of the policy – is it easy to understand and use?
  • Tell us what support, training and help you need to use the policy effectively.

All relevant policies and procedures are coming under the microscope to ensure they address bullying and harassment appropriately. If they don’t measure up, they’ll be revised or discarded, with new policies and procedures created where needed. Again, we will do this with full engagement with our people, and their input is vital. Once these are finalised we will provide our people with support and training so they understand what’s expected of them.

What we’ve done

  • Developed a draft policy to address bullying, harassment and victimisation in collaboration with our Respect and Inclusion Taskforce, subject matter experts and our Policies and Procedures Sub-Group, with full Union and Association representation.

Kaupapa Māori

By committing to work with tangata whenua, we contribute to a safer environment not only for Māori but for all New Zealand communities.

A strategy is being developed to help us achieve this. Fire and Emergency’s Māori Liaison team continues to lead our engagement with Māori communities at national, regional and local events. We also support our people to learn te reo, understand tikanga with Marae visits, pōwhiri and working at Te Matitini and Waitangi each year.

Read more here.

Do you think these videos will encourage our people to think about what they say and do?

Let us know what you think, using the form below or emailing us directly on


Respect and inclusion

Building a respectful, inclusive and highly skilled workforce representative of the communities we serve and work alongside, will ensure that we have the right people and organisational capability to operate in a strategic and agile way to enhance wellbeing and community resilience.

Implementation of programme activities is underway and will encompass evaluation and reporting, communications, policy and process review, championing and growing networks, promoting health and wellbeing, building capability and cultural intelligence and supporting our disabled workforce and communities.

The Positive Workplace Culture Review supports the following priority areas:

  • empowering respect, equity and fairness
  • enhancing our leadership capability and accountability
  • empowering an inclusive environment that promotes health and wellbeing
  • strengthening our foundations: policy, process, governance and monitoring.

Planning to bring everyone on board

  • As well as planning for the priorities above, we need to take time to agree how we’re going to respond to all the recommendations in the report.
  • We need to identify all the activities and deliverables required across policy, procedure, processes, training, education, and engagement.
  • We need to understand what is involved in producing each distinct piece of work, who needs to be included, and how we engage with everyone in our organisation and stakeholders.
  • We need to define the benefits we expect from this work, know what success looks like, and understand how we will measure that success.

Why it’s important

What we’ll do next

  • Get formal approval of our programme and engagement plans.
  • Appoint an independent member to the Positive Workplace Culture executive panel to provide assurance as initiatives are developed.
  • Develop our measures and evaluation framework.

We need your input

  • Tell us the key recommendations in the report you’d like us to address.
  • Tell us your thoughts and ideas on how we can grow a positive workplace culture.
  • Tell us the best ways to get your input and keep you informed.
  • Support your colleagues, union or association to get involved.

All 33 recommendations from the Positive Workplace Culture Review were accepted and we’re now deep in the process of analysing the recommendations and building a programme to make things happen. We’re mapping what’s already in play, and where we need to build new programmes. A key part of all this is keeping our people and our communities informed and involved, every step of the way.

What we've done

  • Complete full analysis of the recommendations.
  • Map where there is already work under way that will contribute to the outcomes we want to achieve (e.g. Values, Respect and Inclusion), and how we will collaborate
  • Define all projects, initiatives, and deliverables required to implement our response to the recommendations.
  • Identify and plan our success measures and evaluation framework.
  • Identify the resources and services required to deliver the programme.
  • Plan how we will productively and meaningfully engage with our people, and how we will work with our unions, associations, sector partners, and our communities.

When we support each other, we support our communities

Ruatāhuna is a tight-knit but isolated community in Te Urewera National Park. With the nearest fire station over an hour away, the community relies on local volunteer brigades to stay fire safe.

Earlier this year our local volunteers, regional and area staff joined local iwi and communities to bring fire safety into every home.

It wasn’t about imposing a plan, it was about coming together, listening to what the community really wanted and working together to make it happen. Behaviours that create a positive culture and long-lasting change.

More than 40 locals from Ruatāhuna, Te Whaiti and Minginui, along with the Fire and Emergency team visited over 150 households to ensure every home had a working smoke alarm and talked about how to keep whānau safe from fire. It was an overwhelming success with more than 300 smoke alarms installed or replaced in several marae and homes.

We supported each other to support our community. We listened first, worked together and made a difference. Simple but powerful behaviours that deliver genuine support.


Setting the standards and staying accountable

What we’ll do next

  • Develop a draft outline of the options required to operate the Behaviour and Conduct Office
  • Develop a training and education framework to promote and embed resources which support a positive workplace culture

We need your input

  • Provide your feedback on the proposed structure and roles of the Behaviour and Conduct Office through the consultation process (coming in 2020)

What we’ve done

  • Establish the office and appoint a director to lead the development of the function
  • Asked our people what is important to them in relation to the principles and service provided by the Behaviour and Conduct Office
  • Developed a draft outline of the functions of the Behaviour and Conduct Office, with input and review from our people, unions and associations
  • Appointed an Interim Complaints Manager, and Project Manager to support the Interim Director in the design and establishment of the Behaviour and Conduct Office

We’re setting up a dedicated behaviours and standards office to develop and promote ethical behaviour and benchmarks. This will be a clear measurement of the standards we hold each other to, and the way we stay accountable. The Office will have an education focus and take a supportive approach, so we can bring these standards to life with energy and conviction.


People first, to be our best

  • We need to make sure we all have the right support to thrive at Fire and Emergency.
  • This means creating a respectful and inclusive environment for all our people; He waka eke noa (everybody in one canoe with no exception).
  • This is your opportunity to say what matters to you and your teams, so we can build a safe and respectful organisation that supports everyone.

Why it’s important

What we’ll do next

  • Analyse the responses from the national culture hui to understand what would best meet our people’s needs and consider how we can build this into our support services.
  • Plan our visits to the regions in early 2020 to share the findings from the hui, engage with your teams and listen to further feedback.
  • Use your feedback to shape the recommendations we make to our Positive Workplace Culture Panel to improve our support services.
  • Develop an implementation plan to develop and enhance our support services.

We need your input

  • Let us know your thoughts on our existing support services. What works well? What could we do differently?
  • Tell us what you have seen work well elsewhere.
  • Support each other, check in on your team, ask “Are you ok?”

It is essential that we genuinely support each other to remain safe, resilient and well. We are doing a stocktake of all our support channels, to ensure we are delivering effective support to our people at every level.

Support, in this context is not restricted to the wellbeing of a person affected by bullying or harassment. It includes the different types of support our people may need for complaints/disputes processes, legal, peer support and advocacy.

What we’ve done

  • We held a two-day national culture hui in Wellington, inviting about 60 of our people from around the country.
  • We listened to what’s needed in building the support services we need, the type of culture we aspire to be part of and identify what we can do to help realise that.

Research to support recruitment

Recruiting isn’t an exact science, but Fire and Emergency undertook detailed research to ensure we’re addressing key workplace behaviours to attract the best people across a diverse set of backgrounds.

We carried out three pieces of research to better understand barriers and concerns:

  • Young people’s perceptions of firefighting as a role
  • Experience of the Career Recruitment process
  • An Evidence Review of successful interventions to increase the diversity of new recruits

Research evidence and insights helped us make changes to our recruitment campaigns, cognitive testing and led to trialled boot camps to get people ‘match fit’ for physical tests.

A key finding was that it’s not simply enough to ‘get more difference in the door.’ We need to ensure everyone who joins Fire and Emergency feels safe, welcome and included. A focus on creating a positive workplace culture helps us all feel valued and excited about what we do. We attract better people who will stay with us longer. Copies of the research reports are available at


Taskforce meets to progress workplace culture change

We are building an organisation where our people feel included, welcome and safe. To help create that, the Respect and Inclusion Taskforce is driving and championing the work underway.

The Taskforce met in June in Wellington with over 20 members present. The day was focused on the concept of ‘crawl, walk then run’ as many projects are in the early stage where testing and feedback is vital.The agenda included: learning the new regional Māori names, looking at the 12-month work programme for addressing unwanted behaviour and creating a respectful and inclusive place, the development of a shared code of behaviour, how we plan to engage and communicate with our people, and pilot training focused on acceptable behaviours. 

The work underway

The positive workplace culture and respect and inclusion teams are working on getting the right processes, policies, training, tools, and support in place so we can address and change the unwanted behaviour, respect and include each other, and stop the harm. 

About the Taskforce

The Taskforce was formed in 2018 and meets every six weeks in Wellington. Collectively, they give input on any work or ideas shared by the respect and inclusion and positive workplace culture teams. It’s then their role to champion the work that’s underway by walking the talk and sharing information with their peers.

The Taskforce is made up of people from every corner of Fire and Emergency, including representatives from Unions and Associations. Every person brings their experiences from where they work, and represent the views of their colleagues or members.

Nothing can be designed or implemented if there’s not a good understanding of the day to day realities, or the challenges different groups face - the Taskforce provide those insights.

Why are we doing this work?

We have plenty of people in Fire and Emergency who bring their whole selves to work and respect and include all their peers – and that’s great, we want more of that. 

But, the reality is, Fire and Emergency has a dark side where many people are suffering from bullying, harassment or discrimination. This review has the evidence.

Get involved

If you want to know more about the work underway or have positive stories or examples to share with us, you can email us

There will also be opportunities to have your say on the work underway so keep an eye out for future updates. We expect everyone to play a part in creating a positive workplace culture and stay committed for the long haul. Because when we help, include and respect each other, we’re in a better place to protect our country, our iwi, our communities, our whanau and each other.