NZR elect first female Chair

NZR elect first female Chair

Dame Patsy Reddy has become the first female Chair of New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

She was elected Chair at NZR’s final Board meeting of the year in Auckland today and will replace outgoing Chair Stewart Mitchell who said the timing was right to step down in the new year after nine years on the Board.


Current NZR Directors, Professor Farah Palmer (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto) and Bailey Mackey (Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe, Rongowhakaata) have been elected as Dame Patsy’s joint Deputy Chairs.

“It is an absolute honour to be elected to the position of Chair at such a pivotal and exciting moment for rugby in Aotearoa,” Dame Patsy said. “I would like to thank Stewart for his long service to the Board and his leadership over the past two years as Chair. He has left rugby in a strong position to grasp the opportunities in front of us and with a diverse and skilled Board I could not be more excited about the challenges ahead.”

Dame Patsy Reddy was appointed to the NZR Board in April this year and brings extensive skills to the table following a career as a lawyer, director, and crown negotiator before serving as New Zealand’s Governor General from 2016 to 2021. She was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to the arts and business and a Grand Companion of the Order (GNZM) in 2016 for services to the nation. In the past month she was invested with a Commander of the Victorian Order (CV) – the King’s first investiture since assuming the throne.


NZR President Max Spence acknowledged Mitchell for his service and contribution to the Board.

“On behalf of NZR, I would like to say thank you to Stewart. He has guided the Board through some extraordinary times and always done so with passion and dedication. He has been a champion for diversity and a driving force behind many of our major milestones as an organisation in recent years.”


Mitchell’s term as Chair included navigating COVID difficulties to achieve a break-even financial result in 2021, managing complex negotiations with the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) which enabled the signing of the Silver Lake transaction this year, and the establishment of New Zealand Rugby Commercial (NZRC) to drive all future revenues.

Mitchell, who will step down as Chair with effect on 31 January 2023, said he was particularly proud of the growth of the rugby for women and girls during his tenure, and subsequent success the Black Ferns in winning the Rugby World Cup, and the recent extension of Super Rugby Pacific through to 2030.

“It has been a challenging and tumultuous, but hugely rewarding time in the role over the past couple of years, but the timing is right to move on with a firm foundation set for the future. It is satisfying to see the Board’s priority focus on succession planning come to fruition with the unanimous endorsement of Dame Patsy, and I wish her all the best as she guides rugby into an exciting period.”

Mitchell said he was looking forward to some downtime and investing more time in his other business interests.

Elected Chair in May 2021, Mitchell joined the NZR Board in 2014 after sitting on the Crusaders Super Rugby club Board since 2008 and serving as Chair of the Canterbury Rugby Football Union.

During his tenure on the NZR Board, the Black Ferns won two Rugby World Cups, in 2016 and 2022, the All Blacks won the Webb Ellis Cup in 2015, while there were also World Cup wins for the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens.

Media opportunity:

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) will host a media opportunity tomorrow, Thursday 8 December at midday to report on matters of the December meeting of the NZR Board, including the appointment of a new NZR Chair and Deputy Chair’s.

The final Board meeting of 2022 is taking place in Auckland today (Wednesday 7 December)

WHAT: Post-Board media briefing with NZR CEO Mark Robinson and NZR Chair, Dame Patsy Reddy
WHEN: 8.30am, Thursday 8 December 2022
WHERE: NZR Auckland Office, 125 The Strand, Parnell

Please contact Aimee Dykstra, aimee.dykstra@nzrugby.co.nz if you wish to attend in person

Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy bio:
Former Governor-General the Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy has had extensive experience in governance and consulting roles in both the private and public sector. Dame Patsy has served as a non-executive director of Telecom Corporation, Sky City Entertainment Group, Air New Zealand, New Zealand Post and Payments NZ Ltd. She also served as Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission, Deputy Chair of New Zealand Transport Agency, and Chair of Education Payroll Ltd. Her extensive CV includes major consulting roles as Independent Reviewer of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand and Independent Facilitator of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity among others and she was a Chief Crown Negotiator for Treaty Settlements. Dame Patsy has also had significant involvement in governance of creative and charitable organisations, including as Trustee of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, the Victoria University Foundation, the Victoria University Art Collection Trust, the Spark Art Trust, the Wellington Jazz Festival Trust, and Sky City Community Trust. She was a founding Trustee and advisory board member for New Zealand Global Women and has chaired the Board of the New Zealand Film Archive. She is currently a Trustee of the NZ Symphony Orchestra Foundation and the Aspen Institute New Zealand. In 2014 she became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts and business, and was made a Grand Companion of the Order and received the Queens Service Order (QSO) in 2016. Educated at Victoria University of Wellington with an LLM (First Class Honours).

Professor Farah Palmer bio:
Professor Farah Palmer (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto) was appointed to the NZR Board in 2016 and Chair in 2021. Palmer brings strong academic, Māori rugby and women’s rugby experience to the Board. The former Black Fern (35 Tests, 1996-2006) captained the team to three consecutive Rugby World Cups, was inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014 and has served on the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board since 2007. Palmer is a senior lecturer in Massey University's School of Management and Director of the University's Māori Business & Leadership Centre (Te Au Rangahau). Palmer was most recent awarded the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service in the 2022 World Rugby Awards.

Bailey Mackey bio:
Bailey Mackey (Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe, Rongowhakaata) was appointed to the NZR Board in 2020 and has over 20-years' experience in broadcast production, is a representative for the Creative Sector on the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council and most recently was announced as the Māori Sports Administrator Recipient (Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga) at the 2022 Māori Sports Awards. Mackey played for Ngāti Porou East Coast Rugby Union from 1998 to 1999 and was the Union’s President before becoming a New Zealand Rugby board member.

Latest News