DHB leadership renewed and strengthened

Health Minister Dr David Clark says new appointments to DHBs represent a significant changing of the guard, with 13 new chairs including four Māori chairs.

Today 76 appointments have been announced to complement elected board members, as well as eight elected members appointed as either chair or deputy chair.  Four board members were named for each of the 19 DHBs. No appointments were made for Waikato DHB as it is currently governed by a Commissioner.

“District Health Boards play a vital role delivering health care to New Zealanders. It’s critical that they are well led, and well governed,” David Clark said.

“I am delighted with the calibre of people that have agreed to take on these important board roles. I also want to pay tribute to outgoing board members for their public service.

“It is no secret that our DHBs face their challenges. Nine years of underfunding and neglect has taken its toll – with rundown hospitals, workforces that have been stretched too thinly and worsening DHB deficits since 2013.

“While this Government is investing more than ever in health and has hired 677 more doctors and 1699 more nurses, it will take time to rebuild our public health service. DHB chairs and boards are at the heart of this work.

“DHB board governance is not an easy job. It requires leadership, focus, a strong skillset and a commitment to delivering high quality care for all New Zealanders,” David Clark said.

“Boards also need to reflect the communities they serve. Almost exactly half of the appointed board members are women (37 out of 76), and I have appointed four Māori board chairs – compared to none in 2016. 

“For the first time, the number of Māori chairs and deputies reflects the proportion of our Māori population. This is crucial to improving health outcomes for New Zealand’s Māori communities.”

“I expect the new DHB boards to deliver on the Government’s clear expectations – in particular, robust financial management, improved services and good management of capital infrastructure.

“While there are a range of ongoing challenging issues in health, timely access to services remains a key priority. For example, there needs to be meaningful improvement in access to first specialist assessments, surgery and radiology so people get the care they need.

“To help them to succeed, board chairs and members will be supported by an improved Ministry of Health induction and development programme. This will ensure DHB boards have the support they need to provide strong governance and leadership,” said David Clark.

New DHB chair appointments include:

  • Northland - Harry Burkhardt (Ngāti Kuri), plastics manufacturing and recycling business managing director and Ngāti Kuri Trust Board chair
  • Bay of Plenty - Sir Michael Cullen, former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister
  • Lakes - Dr Jim Mather (Ngāti Awa / Ngāi Tūhoe), qualified accountant and former Chief Executive of Māori Television and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
  • Tairawhiti - Kim Ngarimu (Ngāti Porou), member of the Medical Council’s Audit, Education and Health Committees and director of Tāua Limited
  • Hawke’s Bay – Shayne Walker (Ngāti Kahungunu), head of Māori Business at the Bank of New Zealand and a former Māori health manager at HBDHB
  • Taranaki - Cassandra Crowley, has directorships on several boards, President of the Chartered Accountants ANZ Board and Taranaki Whanui Benefits Limited
  • Whanganui – Ken Whelan, former chief executive of Northland and Capital and Coast DHBs, Crown Monitor at Counties Manukau and Waikato DHBs
  • MidCentral – Brendan Duffy, former Horowhenua mayor and DHB deputy chair
  • Hutt Valley, Capital and Coast - David Smol, inaugural MBIE Chief Executive
  • Canterbury – Sir John Hansen, retired High Court judge and chair of the Canterbury Clinical Network
  • West Coast – Rick Barker, former Cabinet Minister
  • Southern – Dave Cull, former Mayor of Dunedin and former President of Local Government NZ

The current chairs of Nelson Marlborough, South Canterbury and Wairarapa DHBs have been reappointed for a further three year term, as have the chairs of Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau (who were first appointed in 2018).

NOTE: The new Boards start work on 9 December 2019. Each board has up to 11 members, seven are elected and four are appointed by the Minister of Health. Attached is a full list appointments and biographical information for each chair.

Today’s appointments mean that 16 DHBs have had new chairs appointed since the last election. Pat Snedden (Auckland), Vui Mark Gosche (Counties-Manukau) and Judy McGregor (Waitemata) were appointed last year and reappointed today, while the chair of Waikato also changed prior to the removal of the board and the appointment of a Commissioner.