Bailey Mackey, Farah Palmer elected deputy chairs as changes made at NZ Rugby

Dame Patsy Reddy has become the first female chair of New Zealand Rugby (NZR) after being elected at the final board meeting of the year today.

The former governor-general replaces outgoing chair Stewart Mitchell, who is stepping down in the new year after nine years on the board.

Current NZR directors Professor Farah Palmer (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto) and Bailey Mackey (Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe, Rongowhakaata) have been elected as Dame Patsy’s joint deputy chairs.

“It is an absolute honour to be elected to the position of chair at such a pivotal and exciting moment for rugby in Aotearoa,” Dame Patsy said.

“I would like to thank Stewart for his long service to the board and his leadership over the past two years as chair. He has left rugby in a strong position to grasp the opportunities in front of us and with a diverse and skilled board I could not be more excited about the challenges ahead.”

Passion and dedication

Dame Patsy Reddy was appointed to the NZR board in April this year and brings extensive skills to the table following a career as a lawyer, director, and Crown negotiator before serving as New Zealand’s Governor-General from 2016 to 2021.

NZR President Max Spence acknowledged Mitchell for his service and contribution to the board.

“On behalf of NZR, I would like to say thank you to Stewart. He has guided the board through some extraordinary times and has always done so with passion and dedication. He has been a champion for diversity and a driving force behind many of our major milestones as an organisation in recent years.”

Mitchell’s term as chair included navigating Covid-19 difficulties to achieve a break-even financial result in 2021, managing complex negotiations with the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA), which enabled the signing of the Silver Lake transaction this year, and the establishment of New Zealand Rugby Commercial (NZRC) to drive all future revenues.

Women's rugby growth

Mitchell, who will step down as chair with effect on January 31, 2023, said he was particularly proud of the growth of rugby for women and girls during his tenure, and the subsequent success of the Black Ferns in winning the Rugby World Cup, and the recent extension of Super Rugby Pacific through to 2030.

“It has been a challenging and tumultuous but hugely rewarding time in the role over the past couple of years but the timing is right to move on with a firm foundation set for the future. It is satisfying to see the board’s priority focus on succession planning come to fruition with the unanimous endorsement of Dame Patsy, and I wish her all the best as she guides rugby into an exciting period.”

During his tenure on the NZR Board, the Black Ferns won two Rugby World Cups, in 2016 and 2022, the All Blacks won the Webb Ellis Cup in 2015, while there were also World Cup wins for the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens.