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The Otago Regional Council yesterday announced the appointment of Queenstown woman Jane Taylor in the position, replacing Ed Johnson who retired in December.
She was appointed by the council and will begin work next week.
Mrs Taylor is a qualified barrister and accountant and was named the 2016 Otago Daily Times Business Leader of the Year.
She chairs Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Predator Free 2050, and Orion New Zealand and is a director of Silver Fern Farms.
Mrs Taylor said she was "just delighted" to have the opportunity.
"Ports are incredibly busy, vibrant places. This one is a really interesting port because it essentially does everything. It's a very successful operation."
Regional councillor Michael Laws criticised the lack of women on the six-person board early last year.
Mrs Taylor said this was a criticism which could be levelled at a lot of boards.
"Diversity and inclusion can obviously add real value to a board.
"If I'm in a chair role I just want to get the best person, although that can mean taking people with different backgrounds and skills into account."
Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the council was seeking someone with financial, commercial and audit and risk skills.
Mrs Taylor had "extensive governance experience".
Port Otago chairman David Faulkner said Mrs Taylor brought extensive experience with a number of "diverse and significant New Zealand companies".
Cr Laws last year called the board an "old boys club".
If anyone thought one woman appointed would solve that "they should think again", he said.
Port Otago's precursor, the Otago Harbour Board, was established on June 30, 1874.