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New Government Statistician Mark Sowden starts today

21 January 2020

Government Statistician and Chief Executive, Mark Sowden, starts in his new role this week, (Tuesday, 21 January), Stats NZ said today.

The Government Statistician leads Stats NZ, the country’s primary data and statistics agency, and is the Government’s principal advisor on statistical matters.

“I’m delighted to return to Stats NZ and look forward to the many opportunities and challenges facing the organisation, including planning for the next census and increasing our focus on our customers,” Mr Sowden said.

“I know many of the people at Stats NZ, and I look forward to talking to staff across all our offices in the coming days.”

Mr Sowden also takes on the role as Government Chief Data Steward, supporting government to realise the potential of data to improve wellbeing, while maintaining and building trust in its use. In this role he also leads New Zealand’s open data programme.

“I plan to set a clear direction for the agency and the wider state sector to realise the full potential of data,” Mr Sowden said.

Mr Sowden rejoins Stats NZ after about six months as the Deputy Chief Executive of Housing and Urban Settings Policy at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. He was responsible for developing a collaborative, cross-government strategy to tackle homelessness – one of New Zealand’s most challenging social issues.

Earlier, Mr Sowden held two senior positions at Stats NZ. From November 2015 to February 2017 he was the Deputy Government Statistician and Chief Executive Customer Strategy and Delivery, leading about 380 staff. From February 2017 to June 2019 he was the Deputy Chief Executive Data System Leadership and was responsible for designing, establishing, and running the Government Chief Data Steward role. He also led the development of the Measuring New Zealand’s Progress wellbeing indicators across several government agencies.

Between 2004 and 2015, Mr Sowden held senior roles at both the Ministry for the Environment and Treasury. He holds a Master of Commerce from Canterbury University.

Mr Sowden’s appointment was first announced by the State Services Commission late last year (17 December 2019). He replaces Liz MacPherson who resigned after six years in the role (see

“I’d like to thank Liz for her leadership and wish her well for the future,” Mr Sowden said.


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