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Gray will take up the role of chief executive of Nelson Tasman Hospice.
He has been chief executive of Ara since September 2017 and has worked in the education sector for 37 years," Gray said.
"I’m excited about my new role and about returning to Nelson but I do hold some sadness to be leaving education.
"It’s been an honour to lead Ara and help it to live its purpose of transforming lives through education.
“You can see that transformation at graduation ceremonies but also on the faces of Ara learners every day.
"Whether they’re with us to get a degree, learn a trade, become a health practitioner, educator or immerse themselves in the arts, culture or technology, it has been a privilege to be part of enabling learners to shape their future," he said.
Gray's final day at Ara is yet to be confirmed and a transition plan is being worked on.
Ara board chair Dr Thérèse Arseneau was grateful for the contribution Gray had made.
“Tony has worked tirelessly to ensure Ara is the best it can be.
"He has transformed Ara’s culture with his efforts resulting in a more collaborative, inclusive and agile operation.
“He will leave Ara in a very strong position with a high performing leadership team underpinned by a clear strategic direction and a firm commitment to improving learners’ outcomes.
“That means Ara is well placed to not only transition to Te Pūkenga over the next 18 months but to take a significant lead in ensuring the many opportunities the sector reform presents are maximised."