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Waddell is a two-time world champion and won gold in the single sculls at Sydney in 2000. More recently he's been a grinder on Team New Zealand and his role with the NZOC won't interfere with that. He's also vice-chairman (formerly chairman) of the Home of Cycling Trust and co-owner of a family business.
Waddell is understood to have been shortlisted with fellow Olympic gold medallist Hamish Carter and former netballer Tracy Fear. Fear took herself out of the running when she took a job with NSW netball.
He was selected by a panel comprising Olympic athletes, an Olympic coach and representatives of the New Zealand Olympic Committee and HPSNZ.
Currie was Chef de Mission for three Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012) and three Commonwealth Games (2002, 2006, 2010) as well as the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.
"It's a unique position and I'm honoured to have been appointed," Waddell said. "We've just come off the back of our most successful Olympic Games ever and I'm determined that continues.
"I've been to three Olympic Games and experienced them not just as a successful gold medal winner but also as a wide-eyed first-timer and again as an athlete struggling to meet expectations. That broad perspective will help better understand our top athletes."
NZOC secretary general Kereyn Smith was delighted with Waddell's appointment.
"Rob has what it takes to make sure the environment is right for athletes to achieve at Olympic Games," she said. "He knows sport and the needs of elite athletes, is highly respected and sets a clear standard of excellence. He also has as strong focus on the benefits of sport to the community. We're thrilled to welcome him to the team."
Emirates Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton also congratulated Waddell. "We're delighted for Rob. He is an outstanding individual and is ideally suited to the position. He commands respect and is a brilliant team player."
Waddell will be New Zealand's 18th Chef de Mission for the Summer Olympic Games. Sir Arthur Porritt (1924 Paris and 1936 Berlin) was New Zealand's first Chef de Mission.