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Among the DHB heads are four Māori chairs, a former High Court judge, two ex-mayors and a former Labour deputy prime minister.
Each district health board has up to 11 members, with up to four appointed by the Minister of Health, including the chair and deputy chairs.
Health Minister David Clark said the new appointments to DHBs represented a significant changing of the guard.
He said the boards needed to reflect the communities they served. Almost half of the appointed board members were women.
Dr Clark said for the first time the number of Māori chairpersons and deputies reflected the proportion of the Māori population.
"Māori and Pacific people often have worse health outcomes. That's entirely unacceptable and that's something that I personally am keen to see the system improve on."
Sir John Hansen, a former High Court judge, has been appointed chair of the Canterbury DHB. His previous roles include chair of the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal Commission. He currently chairs the Independent Hearing Panel responsible for the new Christchurch District Plan.
Shayne Walker (Ngāti Kahungunu) will chair the Hawke's Bay DHB. He worked as Māori Health Manager for Hawke's Bay DHB and general manager for the Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust.
Harry Burkhardt (Ngāti Kuri) chairs Northland DHB. He is currently chair of the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board and has served on a range of governance entities responsible for health, education, tourism, social and commercial investment, regional and national economic development.
At Tairawhiti DHB, Kim Ngarimu (Ngāti Porou) takes over as chair. Ms Ngarimu is a current member of the Medical Council's Audit, Education and Health Committees. She is also the director of Tāua Limited, a consulting company specialising in the provision of public policy and management advice, with relationships with iwi and Māori communities.
In the Wellington region, David Smol will chair the Capital & Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB. In 2008 he was appointed as chief executive of the Ministry of Economic Development and from 2012-2017 was the inaugural chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Former Dunedin mayor Dave Cull has been appointed to the Southern DHB. He is president of Local Government New Zealand. Former Horowhenua mayor Brendan Duffy, the deputy chair MidCentral DHB, will take over as chair.
West Coast DHB is headed by former Labour Cabinet minister Rick Barker. His government portfolios included customs, courts, justice, and social services and employment.
The new Whanganui DHB chair, Ken Whelan, has had 40 years' experience in the health sector, both in Australia and New Zealand, and has previously been chief executive of both Northland and Capital & Coast District Health Boards.
Pat Snedden has been reappointed to Auckland DHB, Vui Mark Gosche to Counties Manukau, Jenny Black remains chair of Nelson-Marlborough DHB, Ron Luxton stays as South Canterbury DHB chair, Sir Paul Collins at Wairarapa and Professor Judy McGregor at Waitematā.
No appointments were made for Waikato District Health Board, currently governed by a commissioner.