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New Direction For Health New Zealand

Professor Lester Levy has been appointed as a member and Chair of the Board of Health New Zealand - Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ), Health Minister Dr Shane Reti announced today.

“Professor Levy has extensive experience working in the health system and will provide strong leadership to Health NZ through a period of ongoing change,” says Dr Reti.

“The challenges Health NZ faces are a result of the poorly planned health reforms of the last government and have highlighted to me the urgent need for further transformation.

“Today’s appointment of a new Chair is in addition to the previous appointment of a Crown observer and a new board member with specialist financial expertise.

“These measures are part of our Government’s plan to put Health NZ on a better footing. The Labour government failed to acknowledge a health crisis and failed in its duty to provide adequate oversight and support during a period of massive upheaval for health.

“This resulted in significant turbulence for Health NZ, particularly in workforce where we know having a strong frontline is key.

“Professor Levy is well suited to help meet these challenges through his background in leading organisational performance transformation in both the public and private sectors.

“As he takes up the role, there are some positive signs around workforce, with the most recent figures showing a surge in nursing appointments under our Government.

“The nursing workforce has grown by over 1,000 FTE so far in 2024, and the senior medical office workforce by more than 80 FTE.This comes on top of an increase of almost 2,500 extra FTE nurses between December 2022 and December 2023.

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“While nurse numbers are now generally tracking well, we know there’s still work to do in mental health, midwifery and intensive care, and there are also needs in primary and community care.

“Simultaneously, the massive task of recruiting and employing these new workforces has resulted in shifting cost areas which Health NZ needs to meet on an ongoing basis.

“As it prioritises funding from yesterday’s Budget to these areas, I expect Health NZ and its leadership to be actively targeting recruitment to the areas of highest frontline need.

“Our Government is fully committed to ongoing and significant investment in health. We want to deliver a health system which serves the needs of New Zealanders by focusing on workforce, targets, infrastructure and financial sustainability.

“I thank our health workforce for their hard work despite Labour’s damaging reforms.

“I would also like to again thank outgoing Health NZ Chair, Dame Dr Karen Poutasi for her service on the Board.

“I am looking forward to seeing the continued progress this Government will make to improving the health system for all New Zealanders.”

Professor Lester Levy will take up the role for a two-year term from 1 June 2024.


  • Professor Lester Levy is highly accomplished in the health and research sector.
  • He currently chairs the Health Research Council, New Zealand Radiology Group, and is Professor of Digital Health Leadership at Auckland University of Technology’s Faculty of Health.
  • His career combines medical expertise, academia, and extensive management and governance experience. Notably, he has served as board chair of Auckland, Waitematā and Counties Manukau district health boards (DHBs), Auckland Transport, chief executive of the New Zealand Blood and Organ Service, South Auckland Health, and the Mercy Ascot group of hospitals, which he helped found.
  • He also served as Crown Monitor for Canterbury DHB from 2019 to 2022.
  • Professor Levy is a qualified medical doctor and is vocationally registered as a medical specialist. In the 2013 New Zealand New Year's Honours list, he was appointed as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to health and education.

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