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Former Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce chief executive Charles Finny has been appointed to chair Education New Zealand, a new Crown agency set up to support and encourage international education.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce announced the appointment this morning.
In June, Labour's Maryan Street was critical of an untendered contract, $54,135 for two months' work awarded at the end of last year, to lobbyist Mr Finny to look at New Zealand's engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
She accused the Government of favouring its friends. Mr Finny had already been appointed by the Government to the board of Trade and Enterprise, and the Film Commission.
Mr Joyce said Mr Finny's background made him a good fit for the role.
"Mr Finny's international experience and network leave him well-placed to encourage further growth, particularly as we work to minimise the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes on the sector," he said.
International education was New Zealand's fifth-largest export earner, worth more than $2 billion to the economy and employing 32,000 people.
"Historically, the national level international education function has been fragmented between three agencies - the Ministry of Education, Education New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise - it's important that we remedy this and ensure our efforts are well-coordinated and efficient."
Prior to running the chamber of commerce, from 2005-2010, Mr Finny was a diplomat and trade official, including in China, Taiwan and Singapore. He is a fluent Mandarin speaker.
A board member of wine company Kawarau Estate Limited, he is on the Victoria University of Wellington Council and a former chair of the Local Government Forum.
He works for Saunders Unsworth, a government relations and public policy firm, where former National Party Cabinet minister Roger Sowry is a board member.