Crown Research Institutes – Director roles

On behalf of the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, the Ministry is seeking candidates who wish to be considered for appointment as Directors for Crown Research Institutes (CRI) boards.

About the Boards

Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are Crown-owned companies that carry out scientific research for the benefit of New Zealand. CRIs play a unique and important role supporting their sectors to innovate and grow. CRIs strive to address New Zealand’s most pressing issues and achieve economic growth by improving sectors’ productivity and improving sustainable use of natural resources.

There are seven CRIs and each is aligned with a purpose and a productive sector of the economy or a grouping of natural resources. The seven CRIs are:

  • AgResearch(external link)
    AgResearch’s purpose is to enhance the value, productivity and profitability of New Zealand’s pastoral, agri-food and agri-technology sector value chains to contribute to economic growth and beneficial environmental and social outcomes for New Zealand. 
  • Institute of Environmental Science Research (ESR)(external link)
    ESR’s purpose is to deliver world class knowledge, research and laboratory services to help New Zealand get the most out of its investment in science and innovation. ESR’s science lies behind the decisions that safeguard people’s health, protect our food-based economy, improve the safety of New Zealand’s freshwater and groundwater resources and provide the justice sector with expert forensic science. 
  • Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS Science)(external link)
    GNS Science’s purpose is to undertake research that drives innovation and economic growth in New Zealand’s geologically-based energy and minerals industries, that develops industrial and environmental applications of nuclear science, that increases New Zealand’s resilience to natural hazards and that enhances understanding of geological and earth-system processes. 
  • Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research (Manaaki Whenua)(external link)
    Manaaki Whenua’s purpose is to drive innovation in New Zealand’s management of terrestrial biodiversity and land resources to both protect and enhance terrestrial environment and New Zealand’s prosperity. 
  • National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)(external link)
    NIWA’s purpose is to enhance the economic value and sustainable management of New Zealand’s aquatic resources and environments, to provide understanding of climate and atmosphere, and increase resilience to weather and climate hazards to improve the safety and wellbeing of New Zealanders. 
  • New Zealand Institute of Plant and Food Research Limited (Plant and Food Research)(external link)
    Plant and Food Research’s purpose is to enhance the value and productivity of New Zealand’s horticultural, arable, seafood and food and beverage industries to contribute to economic growth and the environmental and social prosperity of New Zealand. 
  • New Zealand Forest Institute Limited (Scion)(external link)
    Scion’s purpose is to drive innovation and growth from New Zealand’s forestry, wood product and wood-derived materials and other biomaterial sectors, to create economic value and contribute to beneficial environmental and social outcomes for New Zealand. 

CRIs as Crown Entity companies

CRIs are Crown entity companies under the Crown Entities Act 2004. The Crown Entities Act applies to a CRI except to the extent that the CRI Act expressly provides otherwise.

The Companies Act 1993, Crown Research Institutes Act 1992 and the Crown Entities Act 2004 provide a framework for governance and accountability, including responsibilities of directors, disclosure of interests, and the roles of Ministers. These acts are available on the New Zealand Legislation website(external link)

CRIs are wholly-owned by the Crown and have two shareholding Ministers who act to protect the Crown’s investment: the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation and the Minister of Finance, with the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation acting as the responsible Minister. Under the Crown Entities Act, Ministers have powers with regard to all entities on matters of strategic direction, targets, funding, performance, reporting and reviews. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is the primary monitoring agency for all CRIs.

Board membership

Role of CRI Directors

Based on the Public Service Commission guidance material, a Crown entity director’s role includes the following:

  • Provide effective leadership to the entity, consistent with the purpose of the entity and Ministers’ expectations.
  • Comply with the Crown Entities Act, Companies Act, CRI Act and other relevant legislation.
  • Act as the leader of the entity, including presenting the entity’s objectives and strategies to the public. Represent the entity to government and stakeholders.
  • Attend board meetings and ensure appropriate policies and structures are in place to support the entity.
  • Provide guidance and support to other board members to ensure they contribute effectively to the governance of the entity.
  • Provide guidance and support to the Chief Executive to ensure the entity is managed effectively. This includes establishing an effective working relationship with the Chief Executive while also taking an independent view to challenge and test management thinking.
  • Manages risk and ensures compliance of the entity.
  • Act with honesty, integrity, in good faith and not at the expense of the entity’s interests.
  • Act with reasonable care, diligence and skill (as a ‘reasonable person’ would in the same circumstances).
  • Avoid disclosing information obtained in their capacity as a member, unless in specified circumstances.

Note: Both the board and its individual members can be sanctioned for a breach of duties.

Collective and individual duties

The collective duties of directors are to ensure that CRIs act consistently with their objectives, their Statement of Corporate Intent and Statement of Performance Expectations, and that CRIs’ functions are performed efficiently, effectively and in a manner consistent with the spirit of service to the public, and in a financially responsible manner. CRIs’ directors are responsible for:

  • setting and monitoring the strategic direction of their organisation
  • setting the culture and tone of the CRI as an organisation
  • taking decisions that it has reserved for itself under the delegations policy
  • appointing the Chief Executive.

The duties of individual directors are described in the Companies Act, CRI Act and the Crown Entities Act. In addition, candidates should have backgrounds that demonstrate strong personal integrity and ethics that will enable them to meet their obligations as a director.

Further information on how the relationships between Crown entities, Ministers, and departments work in practice can be found on the Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission website(external link)

Membership of the Board

Shareholding Ministers appoint a board of directors to oversee the management of CRI Boards and to appoint a Chief Executive in accordance with the Companies Act and the Company’s Constitution. The Crown also appoints the Chair and Deputy Chair. The Board of Directors is accountable to the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation and the Minister of Finance and is ultimately responsible for the strategic direction, legal obligations and operational performance of CRIs. The Board is also responsible for setting the culture and tone of each CRI as an organisation. The Board delegates responsibility for the management of the organisation to the Chief Executive.

Directors are appointed for terms of up to three years and may be reappointed on the expiry of their term. Directors of the Board may resign by written notice to the shareholding Ministers. Directors may be removed from office at any time, and for any reason, by written notice from the shareholding Ministers to the company.

Time commitment and remuneration

For Crown company boards, the Treasury advises the Shareholding Ministers on appropriate fees in accordance with the Crown Company Fees Methodology. The Shareholding Ministers annually approve a fees pool for each board. Each board determines how to allocate this pool of fees.

The following table details the current unit rate of ordinary fees for each company.


Ordinary unit rate per annum

per director

per deputy chair

per chair









GNS Science




Manaaki Whenua




Plant & Food Research








Special fees may be approved in advance by Shareholding Ministers for extraordinary board work undertaken for Crown company boards.

Person specifications

Specific skills required

At this time, the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation is seeking candidates who can provide one or more of the following specific skills and experience:

  • Financial acumen, including audit and risk management experience.
  • A background in science, with strong credibility and connections across New Zealand’s science system.
  • Knowledge of Te Ao Māori and connections to Māori.
  • Strong governance experience.
  • Strategic leadership and financial leadership skills.
  • Legal expertise, preferably with experience in litigation.

Additional skills, experience and attributes required

Under section 7(2) of the CRI Act, directors must, in the shareholding Ministers’ opinion, individually or collectively bring a wide range of skills to a CRI Board, including:

  • the skills necessary to ensure the sound management of the CRI, both financially and generally
  • knowledge of, or experience in, the carrying out of, or management of, research
  • knowledge of, or experience in, the application, by the productive sector, of research and technology
  • an understanding of, and the skills necessary to promote, the actual and potential linkages between the activities of the CRI and the activities of the private sector, and other persons or bodies that are able, or may be able, to utilise the research undertaken by the CRI or collaborate with the CRI in that research.

Section 89 of the Crown Entities Act 2004 requires the shareholding Ministers to:

  • only appoint a person who, in the shareholding Ministers’ opinion, has the appropriate knowledge, skills, and experience to ensure the sound management of the Crown entity company and to assist the company to achieve its objectives and perform its functions; and
  • in appointing, take into account the desirability of promoting diversity in the membership of Crown entities.
  • A Member of Parliament is disqualified from being a member of a Crown entity company.

Nominees for a directorship should have the necessary skills and experience to enable them to meet the requirements of a director in terms of the Companies Act and other relevant legislation; and have the demonstrated skills to contribute to board level decision-making.

Disclosure of interest

  • Section 90 of the Crown Entities Act 2004 requires that before a person is appointed as a director of a Crown entity, the person must disclose to the shareholding Ministers the nature and extent (including monetary value, if quantifiable) of all interests that the person has at that time, or is likely to have, in matters relating to the Crown entity company.
  • As part of the appointment process, candidates are required to complete a Disclosure Form. The information that is disclosed by the candidates enables the shareholding Ministers to know the relevant interests and any conflicts that a person may have in relation to an appointment to an entity. The information is used to assess whether a candidate would be able to contribute effectively to the entity’s affairs, and where conflicts are identified, to ensure that these can be managed appropriately.

Additional information

For further enquiries about the position, email:

Last updated: 09 August 2022