7 Dec 2019

Health Minister appoints 13 new DHB chairs in 'changing of the guard'

4:32 pm on 7 December 2019

The government has overhauled leadership of the nation's health boards, appointing new chairs at 13 of the 19 DHBs.

Minister of Health David Clark.

Minister of Health David Clark. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Among the DHB heads are four Māori chairs, a former High Court judge, two ex-mayors and a former Labour deputy prime minister.

Each district health board has up to 11 members, with up to four appointed by the Minister of Health, including the chair and deputy chairs.

Health Minister David Clark said the new appointments to DHBs represented a significant changing of the guard.

He said the boards needed to reflect the communities they served. Almost half of the appointed board members were women.

Dr Clark said for the first time the number of Māori chairpersons and deputies reflected the proportion of the Māori population.

"Māori and Pacific people often have worse health outcomes. That's entirely unacceptable and that's something that I personally am keen to see the system improve on."

Māori health researcher Andrew Sporle, who is based at Auckland University, said the appointments won't be able to do much without boosting the Ministry of Health's resources for collecting data and making effective policy that targets Māori health inequalities.

"So just having the voices at the table isn't going to be enough when you actually need a Ministry of Health who can actually provide the information and the policy advice to support change," Mr Sporle said.

Sir Michael Cullen at the Tax Working Group announcement.

Sir Michael Cullen Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Among the new appointees is former Labour deputy prime minister Sir Michael Cullen, who will lead the Bay of Plenty DHB. His former roles include Labour deputy prime minister and chair of the Tax Working Group.

Sir John Hansen, a former High Court judge, has been appointed chair of the Canterbury DHB. His previous roles include chair of the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal Commission. He currently chairs the Independent Hearing Panel responsible for the new Christchurch District Plan.

Shayne Walker (Ngāti Kahungunu) will chair the Hawke's Bay DHB. He worked as Māori Health Manager for Hawke's Bay DHB and general manager for the Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust.

Jim Mather.

Dr Jim Mather Photo: SUPPLIED

Dr Jim Mather (Ngāti Awa / Ngāi Tuhoe) has been appointed to Lakes DHB. He has led two of the most high-profile Māori organisations over the last 14 years: Māori Television and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and is currently chair of RNZ, member of MBIE Risk and Advisory Committee, and director of Ngati Awa Group Holdings Limited.

Harry Burkhardt (Ngāti Kuri) chairs Northland DHB. He is currently chair of the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board and has served on a range of governance entities responsible for health, education, tourism, social and commercial investment, regional and national economic development.

At Tairawhiti DHB, Kim Ngarimu (Ngāti Porou) takes over as chair. Ms Ngarimu is a current member of the Medical Council's Audit, Education and Health Committees. She is also the director of Tāua Limited, a consulting company specialising in the provision of public policy and management advice, with relationships with iwi and Māori communities.

In the Wellington region, David Smol will chair the Capital & Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB. In 2008 he was appointed as chief executive of the Ministry of Economic Development and from 2012-2017 was the inaugural chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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Dave Cull Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Former Dunedin mayor Dave Cull has been appointed to the Southern DHB. He is president of Local Government New Zealand. Former Horowhenua mayor Brendan Duffy, the deputy chair MidCentral DHB, will take over as chair.

West Coast DHB is headed by former Labour Cabinet minister Rick Barker. His government portfolios included customs, courts, justice, and social services and employment.

The new Whanganui DHB chair, Ken Whelan, has had 40 years' experience in the health sector, both in Australia and New Zealand, and has previously been chief executive of both Northland and Capital & Coast District Health Boards.

Pat Snedden has been reappointed to Auckland DHB, Vui Mark Gosche to Counties Manukau, Jenny Black remains chair of Nelson-Marlborough DHB, Ron Luxton stays as South Canterbury DHB chair, Sir Paul Collins at Wairarapa and Professor Judy McGregor at Waitematā.

No appointments were made for Waikato District Health Board, currently governed by a commissioner.

Māori health researcher Andrew Sporle said the appointment of a record number of Māori to head DHBs was a good start, but health outcomes for Māori would not improve much without more resources.

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