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Position Description

Competencies sought

The Board requires a full range of competencies across members to be effective. To be considered, candidates must be an experienced Board Chair and possess competencies which complement those of existing Board members. They must bring an understanding of the complexity of operating within a modern transport system, including taking into account mode shift and the Government’s objective to create a sustainable multi-modal transport system. 

Section 29(2)(b) of the Crown Entities Act 2004 states that “in appointing or recommending an appointment, [the responsible Minister] must take into account the desirability of promoting diversity in the membership of Crown entities.” In addition, section 30(2) of the Crown Entities Act 2004 sets out the criteria for disqualification from membership of a Crown entity board.

You will need to be able to demonstrate most, if not all, of the following qualities and competencies as Chair of the Waka Kotahi Board:

  • strategy and culture – contribute to and drive strategy formulation, direction, implementation and communication and ensure development of organisational culture based on the vision and strategy
  • leadership – can demonstrate experience in taking responsibility for the effective operation of a Board, ensuring that the Board sets a purpose or vision and articulates organisational values. You should also be able to demonstrate the ability to ask the right questions of management, distinguish between governance and management, and the levels of oversight and leadership required across Waka Kotahi’s operations
  • experience in the inner workings of Government – this includes the ability to work with the Minister to problem solve, and navigate issues between the political environment and agency’s functions. You should also have an understanding of the political and social context and relationships within which central and/or local Government is required to operate
  • able to navigate complex operating environments to deliver results – this includes being able to manage competing and/or challenging priorities, as well as political and public policy factors
  • judgement and critical thinking – demonstrated experience of exercising judgement and critical thinking, preferably within a regulatory environment. In addition, you should be an active listener, open thinker, and be able to draw from your own personal experiences to contribute towards discussions at the Board table
  • able to work collaboratively to reach consensus – demonstrated understanding of the individual and collective duties Boards possess (particularly within a Crown context), and an ability to reach a collective decision as a Board while respectively and constructively evaluating each other’s personal views on a matter. Accepts the need for collective responsibility for the final decision reached.

In addition, the Minister of Transport expects the Board as a whole to possess the following competencies. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate experience or understanding of one or more these competencies:

  • governance and strategy – experience in governance, preferably in both the public and private sectors, with the ability to ask the right questions of management, distinguish between governance and management, and understand and perform governance functions. The successful candidate will be able to engage with a range of stakeholders, deliver on Government policy and direction and a have a clear understanding of the role of a governor
  • engineering, planning and delivery – experience in overseeing and delivering major infrastructure projects particularly as a lead contractor or part of an alliance/public private partnership model. The successful candidate must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the lifecycles of large infrastructure assets, their resilience and security, and their ability to respond to population needs over time; as well as low-carbon construction methodologies. A qualification and experience in engineering or a related discipline is desirable
  • regulation – a strong understanding of regulatory functions and powers including senior experience in either a regulated industry or as a regulator. A deep understanding of the fundamentals of a modern regulator and the impacts of regulation is required
  • finance (investment and funding) – deep understanding of funding mechanisms, investment funding models and debt management, including a strong understanding of how funding works. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate an awareness of how organisations should perform effectively and prudently within a given funding envelope
  • procurement – experience of contract management of large-scale construction contracts
  • health, safety and legal obligations – an understanding of all the legislative requirements of directors and entities, in particular the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and ideally experience in embedding a health and safety culture within a complex organisation.

Additional desirable competencies and attributes include:

  • accounting (audit, risk and assurance) – qualified accountant with proven audit, risk and assurance experience, including having chaired an audit committee. Must have experience overseeing or delivering risk management and assurance functions within large organisations
  • public sector knowledge (including local government) – understanding of the operating requirements and processes of the public sector. Experience at an operational level of local government is desirable
  • transport emissions – knowledge of the system changes that will be necessary for New Zealand to meet its 2050 zero carbon target, including through the decarbonisation of the transport system, mode shift from private vehicles to other modes, and harnessing of emerging climate-related technologies
  • urban public transport projects: experience in developing integrated plans for urban public transport networks, including an understanding of how public transport (including mass transit) systems link with the wider urban environment. This includes enabling housing and urban development, unlocking commercial opportunities and better connecting communities.
  • urban development – understanding of integrated land use planning and infrastructure development, including taking a systems perspective to integrating the built environment within the transport system. An understanding of the complexity of operating within a modern transport system including taking into account mode shift and the Government’s objective to create a sustainable multi-modal transport system is required
  • knowledge of transport safety – including actions underway towards achieving a zero-harm environment on New Zealand’s roads, and the different levels of behavioural interventions to achieve safer practices across land transport modes
  • stakeholder engagement, including iwi – experience engaging with a large number of diverse stakeholders including fellow directors, management, key individuals, local government, transport sector and iwi in order to establish and maintain effective relationships
  • people, culture, and leadership capability – experience in building or overseeing the development of highly engaged and capable workforces, alongside shaping a high-performance organisational culture
  • digitally competent (IT change programmes) – knowledge of digital systems and experience in overseeing IT change management, assurance of change programmes.

Background to Waka Kotahi

Waka Kotahi’s core functions (fully listed under section 95 of the Land Transport Management Act 2003) are:

  • planning the land transport networks: influencing transport planning and partnering with approved organisations to invest in the transport system for desired results
  • investing in land transport: partnering with approved organisations to invest in the land transport system for desired outcomes
  • managing the State highway network: developing and managing the State highway network
  • regulation: implementing the land transport regulatory framework to ensure safe access and the use of the land transport system
  • investigate and review accidents and incidents involving transport on land in its capacity as the responsible safety authority, subject to any limitations set out in the Transport Accident Investigation Commission Act 1990
  • assist, advise, and co-operate with KiwiRail in relation to KiwiRail’s role in preparing each rail network investment programme.

The Land Transport Management Act 2003 further outlines Waka Kotahi’s statutorily independent functions, which are to:

  • develop and approve the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to give effect to the direction and priorities in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS)
  • approve activities as qualifying for payment from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF)
  • approve procurement procedures for land transport activities
  • issue or suspend any land or rail transport document or authorisation
  • enforce any provisions relating to its functions.

Background to the role

The Board supports the Minister by:

  • setting the direction of Waka Kotahi to give effect to Government priorities (e.g. safety, mode neutrality, regional development, environment)
  • appointing the Chief Executive and holding management to account for the delivery of Government priorities and the organisation’s core functions
  • setting the strategic direction for Waka Kotahi to ensure that it has the right capability to effectively deliver its core roles and functions
  • providing oversight of Waka Kotahi’s operational activities to support the efficient operation of the land transport system, including management and maintenance of the State highway network
  • providing oversight and management of the land transport investment system, including providing stewardship and oversight of the NLTF
  • developing the NLTP to give effect to the Government’s transport priorities set through the GPS
  • giving effect to the responsibilities as a regulator of the land transport system to ensure that Waka Kotahi operates as a modern, risk-based regulator that is effectively targeting risk across the land transport system, including regulation of commercial transport operators, rail, vehicle certification, driver licensing and speed management
  • ensuring Waka Kotahi has robust risk and assurance processes across the delivery of Waka Kotahi’s core functions and activities, including delivery undertaken by its contractors, suppliers and approved organisations
  • making significant planning, investment, and funding decisions
  • influencing and contributing to the land transport sector, including supporting urban development, regeneration, and land use planning
  • overseeing the development and delivery of major land transport infrastructure.

Board members are appointed for a term of up to three years. The Board meets monthly from February to December, and the three Board committees meet every two to three months. Board members are expected to work approximately 30 days a year.

Board fees are set according to criteria in the Cabinet Fees Framework. Waka Kotahi is classified as a Group 3a Level 1 General Governance Board. Accordingly, the Chair is entitled to receive an annual fee of $71,400.

Expressions of Interest

Applicants of all cultural backgrounds are invited to express an interest. Please note that should a candidate from within the Board be identified for appointment as Chair, the Ministry may approach you for consideration as a member.

To apply for the role, please apply through the Treasury database at link), and include a copy of your full Curriculum Vitae by 9.00 am on 26 October 2021.

If you require further information, please email