2 Oct 2013

Former soldier, diplomat to take reins at MPI

6:27 am on 2 October 2013

The Government has chosen top-ranking former soldier and diplomat Martyn Dunne to head the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Mr Dunne, who is currently New Zealand's High Commissioner to Australia, will take up the position of director general next month.

He replaces Wayne McNee, who left the merged and restructured ministry at the end of July to head Livestock Improvement Corporation.

Mr Dunne had 27 years' service in the military, where he reached the rank of Major General and commanded the New Zealand forces in East Timor. He is also a former chief executive of the Customs Service.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said Mr Dunne's wide-ranging experience and skills would be important in his new role.

"Martyn Dunne has a wide range of experience in Customs, so he'll be very strong on border security and bio security," Mr Guy said.

"He also has experience in trade and he understands the private sector very well in New Zealand, so this is a great opportunity for Martyn to come in to what is a very important role for the Government."

MPI staff were "pretty excited" about Mr Dunne's appointment, and about the skills he would bring to the role, the minister said.

Federated Farmers also welcomed the appointment, saying Mr Dunne would bring a new dimension to the leadership of MPI and that it was keen to introduce him to life behind the farm gate.

The federation and the minister also paid tribute to acting director general Scott Gallacher, who stood in as MPI head during one of the most challenging times it had faced as it wrestled with Fonterra's botulism contamination scare and meat access hiccups with China.