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Independent Ferry Service Advisory Group In Place

Appointments to the Ministerial Advisory Group tasked with providing independent advice and assurance on the future of KiwiRail’s inter-island ferry service have been made, State Owned Enterprises Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

“It’s important for New Zealand that KiwiRail is focused on ensuring safe, resilient, and reliable ferry services over the short to medium term while longer term solutions for the Cook Strait connection are developed.

“So I’m very pleased to announce the appointment of Nelson Airport Chief Executive, Mark Thompson as Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Group. He will be joined by a further two members, Mark Cairns and Roger Sowry.

“Mark Thompson has had a 30-year career in logistics and transport operations with senior executive roles in Australasia, the United States, China and the Philippines, leading public and private service focused organisations.

“Mark Cairns also brings extensive logistics and transport experience. He is currently a director of Freightways, Auckland International Airport and Sanford Limited. He also has experience in infrastructure, construction, contracting and capital markets that will be valuable for the advisory group.

“Roger Sowry is a professional director with considerable governance expertise. His current and previous director roles span companies in several sectors including technology, health, infrastructure and energy. He is also a former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister.

“New Zealanders want to see ferry services on Cook Strait provided efficiently in a competitive market, that integrate with the wider transport system and support the economy. In December, the Government committed to establishing the independent advisory group to give us assurance that these objectives will be met.”

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Chair – Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson has had a long career in logistics and transport operations holding senior executive roles in Australasia, USA, China and the Philippines leading public and private service focused organisations.

He’s a business leader with a proven track record in achieving strategic objectives within agreed timeframes and budgets. He is currently Chief Executive of Nelson Airport noting that effective airport management is “a matter of keeping an eye on the future and planning ahead.”

Mark has a deep understanding of the Interislander Cook Strait ferry business having been General Manager of the Interislander for KiwRail and being involved in the development of long term logistic plans.

He was General Manager of Centre Port leading its rebuilt post the Kaikoura earthquake. His wide international logistics experience has been gained through NZ Post Australia and roles within New Zealand Post, Parcel Direct Group, and Express Couriers managing operations and offshore technology and infrastructure projects in Australia, the Philippines and USA.

Member - Mark Cairns

Mark Cairns has worked in large infrastructure (build/operate), logistic operations and complex supply chains for most of his career and brings extensive Chief Executive experience in business operations at scale, including significant exposure to capital markets.

He is currently Chair of Freightways and a director of Auckland International Airport Limited and previously Meridian Energy Limited and Sanford Limited.

He was Chief Executive of Port of Tauranga, New Zealand’s largest and most successful port, from 2005 until his retirement in June 2021 to pursue a full-time governance career. Mark was previously Chief Executive of Toll Owens Limited and General Manager of Fulton Hogan.

Mark has a first-class honours degree in Civil Engineering from University of Auckland, a degree in Business Studies and a Master of Management from Massey University. He is a Fellow of Engineering New Zealand and a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Member - Roger Sowry

Payment solutions provider appoints Roger Sowry as part of NZ growthRoger is a professional director with a wide range of Board experience in Private, Listed and Government Business.

After a 15-year career in Parliament he has the level of in-depth knowledge of the political process that can only come from having served as a senior Minister in a major political party.

He was chief whip, chaired the Health Select Committee and held various portfolios as Minister of Social Welfare, Associate Minister of Health and Leader of the House and spokesman for Energy and Labour Relations. He was also opposition spokesman for Transport.

As Leader of the House, he was responsible for minority government coalition management, a position which saw him working closely with other parties in the parliament.

He is Chair of Whakarongorau Aotearoa- New Zealand Telehealth Service, a privately owned company owned by New Zealand's two largest PHOs, deputy Chair of Healthcare NZ who provide specialist in-home health support, nursing services and disability support services.

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