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New Zealand has moved back up to first place, equal with Denmark, with a score of 90 in the just released 2016 Corruption Perception Index (the TI CPI). One more point and we would have passed Denmark.
For the increased number of people paying attention to the TI CPI, this will be a surprise and a relief as there was a risk that international coverage of the Saudi Sheep, Dirty Tricks, Judith Collins / Oravida, Panama Papers and Auckland Transport affairs would besmirch the New Zealand government's reputation.
Take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are to have a public sector that both values integrity and is regarded by independent sources as being trustworthy.
For a country where winning in fields that matter means achieving first place, even being first equal isn't good enough.
Our score could be higher - the now more granular and descriptive index highlights areas that need improvement.
The TI CPI is compiled by the TI Secretariat in Berlin based on twelve independent data sources, seven of which apply to New Zealand and are calibrated to calculate our score. While there are still some subjective/perception-based components included in the data, the TI-CPI is far more objective than in the early years.
National security has been much in the news in recent months. By being focused on the public sector, the TI CPI provides a comparative measure of good governance public policy and services that are basic to authentic and trusted national security.
"A well governed nation provides: rule of law; political and civil freedoms; medical and health care; schools and educational instruction; roads, railways, the arteries of commerce; communications networks; a money and banking system; a fiscal and institutional context within which citizens can prosper; support for civil society; and a method of regulating the sharing of the environmental commons."
We Kiwis can easily find fault here at home. Given the information published in Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics and the Panama Papers plus recent Auckland Council and investment company corruption cases, it's easy to think that somehow those assessing New Zealand have missed something or been overly liberal in their assessment.
The reality is that corruption is far worse in other countries.
We have a responsibility to keep our own house in order. We also have a responsibility to take pride in what we've achieved over a relatively short period of nationhood.
Haste is required to demonstrate to the rest of the world the huge difference it makes to a country’s peace and security when focussed on preventing corruption.
People don't need to immigrate here to have what we have. They need to learn the lessons we have learned and apply them to their own countries.
We could double our refugee intake each year for the next 100 years and still never absorb all the politically disenfranchised people in the world.
To give them real hope, we need now to take pride in our public service and then use it as a springboard to engage the rest of society to understand that being trustworthy is a strength.
Suzanne Snively, Chair
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.
 World Peace Foundation Report 36: Good Governance Rankings, based on Robert I. Rotbert, When States Fail, Causes and Consequences (Princeton, 2004), p. 2-5 and Daniel Kaufmann, Aart Kray and Pablo Zoido-Lobaton, Governance Matters (Washington, D.C., 1999)