Dame Karen Poutasi has been named the new chair of Te Whatu Ora, replacing Rob Campbell who was sacked in February.

After serving as a board member for the health agency, Poutasi has stepped into the top job. 

Trained as a medical doctor, she has held other significant governance and leadership roles in New Zealand.

She was the director general of health and held the role for 11 years, until 2006, before the role was made famous by Dr Ashley Bloomfield during the covid lockdowns.

In December last year, Poutasi released her findings after she was commissioned to produce an independent review of the murder of five-year-old Malachi Subecz.  

In 2017, Poutasi was part of an inquiry that produced a report about the Havelock North water supply contamination. There was a widespread outbreak of gastroenteritis in August 2016, with more than 5,000 people falling ill due to the presence of E. coli.

Poutasi was also the chief executive of the Ministry of Health, and the NZ Qualifications Authority – a position she held for 14 years up until 2020.

Poutasi was previously chair of the Covid-19 Vaccination and Immunisation Governance Group, and commissioner of the Waikato district health board.

She is currently chair of water services regulator Taumata Arowai and Kāpuhipuhi Wellington Uni-Professional.

Health minister Ayesha Verrall said Poutasi had the right level of experience to take on the role.

“This role is vital for continuing to lead the government’s bold health reforms to make sure quality health services are delivered for every New Zealander.”

Poutasi starts work as Te Whatu Ora chair on Saturday.