Executive Leadership Team

DIA's executive leadership team

Karen Hope-Cross - Director, Office of the Chief Executive

  • Karen Hope-Cross

    Karen Hope-Cross

Karen Hope-Cross is Director, Office of the Chief Executive. She supports the Chief Executive to lead the Department and undertake his leadership responsibilities across the public sector. This includes supporting the performance of the Department as a member of the Executive Leadership Team and facilitating effective relationships with other stakeholders and agencies. The Director also provides strategic advice to the Chief Executive, may lead special projects, and acts as the Chief Executive’s delegate when required.

Karen joined the Department in 2008 and has previously held roles in the Digital Public Service, Toi Hiranga, Local Government, and Service Delivery and Operations branches. Prior to her time with Te Tari Taiwhenua, Karen worked at TelstraClear. Karen holds a Bachelor of Business (Management).

The following people work alongside Karen in the Office of the Chief Executive:


Rebecca Tane

Principal Advisor

Sue Goile


Executive Services Officer to the Chief Executive


Michael Lovett - Deputy Chief Executive Ue te Hīnātore - Local Government

  • Michael Lovett

    Michael Lovett

Michael is Deputy Chief Executive for the Local Government branch - Ue te Hīnātore.

Michael has worked in a variety of senior management roles in operational and policy agencies across the New Zealand public sector including the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry for the Environment and Department of Corrections. He started his career as a forensic psychologist and holds a Bachelor of Science and an Executive Master of Public Administration.

As Deputy Chief Executive Local Government - Ue te Hīnātore, Michael has the following people reporting to him:


Hamiora Bowkett

Executive Director Water Policy

Heather Shotter 

Executive Director National Transition Unit

Keith Ikin

Executive Director Iwi/Māori

Paul Barker

Partnerships Director

Richard Ward

General Manager Policy and Operations

Warren Ulusele

Partnerships Director

Caroline Dumas

Partnerships Director

Vanessa Blakelock

Partnerships Director

Mark Batt

Manager Branch Strategy and Performance


Karen Vercoe – Deputy Chief Executive Te Urungi - Māori, Strategy and Performance

  • Karen Vercoe

    Karen Vercoe

Karen Vercoe is the Deputy Chief Executive of the Department’s Māori, Strategy and Performance Branch – Te Urungi.

Karen has extensive governance and management expertise across multiple sectors in treaty settlements, government, for profit and not for profit entities.

Before joining DIA, she was the Chief Executive Officer for Te Arawa Lakes Trust, a Treaty settlement entity for Te Arawa responsible for the fourteen Lakes in the Rotorua catchment. Karen has previously run her own consulting business KTV Consulting Ltd providing bespoke Management consulting services to NZ government, local government, Māori and Pacific organisations.

Karen has held several Governance roles. She is a Director on Sport NZ, Chair of the Taumata Māori (Sport NZ Māori Governance Board), Chair of Te Pūmautanga O Te Arawa from September 2015 to February 2022 and Chairperson of the Data Iwi Leaders from December 2017 to February 2022. Karen is currently a Trustee on two separate whenua Māori trusts in Rotorua.

In 2021 Karen was the distinguished recipient of a Queens honor, becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Karen received the prestigious Dame Mira Szaszy Māori Alumni Award as a graduate of University of Auckland who has achieved significant success in their career. Karen is a former Black Fern NZ Women's Rugby representative and NZ Touch Representative.

Karen holds a Master of Management Degree from the University of Auckland.

As Deputy Chief Executive Māori, Strategy and Performance - Te Urungi, Karen has the following people reporting to her:


Jo Tuapawa

Director, Strategy and Performance

Andrea Speir

Chief Legal Advisor

Nick Athea

Chief Portfolio Officer

Cathrine Austin

Manager Governance Risk and Assurance

Dylan Tahau

Director, Te Tiriti and Partnerships

Theresa Roigard

Programme Director, Te Urungi Change Programme

Melanie Carpinter

General Manager Communications


Ann-Marie Cavanagh - Deputy Chief Executive Te Kōtui Whitiwhiti - Digital Public Service,
Deputy Government Chief Digital Officer 

  • Anne-Marie Cavanagh

    Ann-Marie Cavanagh

Ann-Marie is Deputy Government Chief Digital Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Digital Public Service - Te Kōtui Whitiwhiti.

Her most recent role was leading the development of the New Zealand Digital Government Strategy as Director, Digital Government Strategy.

Previous roles have included Chief Technology and Digital Services Officer at the Ministry of Health. Prior to moving to New Zealand in 2016 she was Head Digital Strategy at Novartis Pharma AG for the Medical Affairs function based in Switzerland.

She has held a number of positions in ranging from small start-up agencies, to leading global teams in implementing digital innovation. Originally from the UK and a Clinical Pharmacologist by training, Ann-Marie is based in Wellington New Zealand.

As Deputy Chief Executive Digital Public Service - Te Kōtui Whitiwhiti, Ann-Marie has the following people reporting to her:


Colin Holden

General Manager System Strategy and Initiatives

Monica Greenan 

General Manager Agency Partnerships and Capability

Richard Ashworth

General Manager All-of-Government Services Delivery

Christine Casserly

Director Planning, Performance and Support

Robert Te Moana

Director Te Pou Matihiko


Hoani Lambert - Hautū - Deputy Chief Executive Te Haumi - Enterprise Partnerships

  • Hoani Lambert

    Hoani Lambert

Hoani Lambert (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou) is Hautū - Deputy Chief Executive for Enterprise Partnerships - Te Haumi. In this role, Hoani oversees a number of important functions and entities, including the National Library, Archives New Zealand and Ministerial and Secretariat Services. He also is responsible for delivering major transformation projects and programmes including Tāhuhu – the programme that includes the upgrade and construction of new purpose-built archives facilities.

Prior to joining DIA, Hoani was Tamariki Advocate, Deputy Chief Executive Voices of Children at Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children, a role in which he was responsible for advocating for children and young people’s interests across the government system, ensuring their voices are at the centre of government policy, service design and delivery. He was also responsible for overseeing the Ministry’s implementation of new legislative duties in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Although a specialist in communications, public relations and social marketing, Hoani has had a diverse range of professional roles. He has worked in parliament, directed biosecurity border operations and worked as a diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Hoani holds an Executive Master in Public Administration (EMPA) through the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

As Deputy Chief Executive Te Haumi - Enterprise Partnerships, Hoani has the following people reporting to him:


Rachel Esson

National Librarian Te Pouhuaki, General Manager of National Library of New Zealand

Anahera Morehu 

Chief Archivist of Archives New Zealand

Morag Ingram

Director Te Tari o te Hautū Office of the Deputy Chief Executive

Duncan Boennic

General Manager Te Ara Tahi

Briget Ridden

General Manager Ministerial Services

Te Haumi - Enterprise Partnerships branch also provides secretariat and administrative services to the Local Government Commission, the Gambling Commission and the Film and Literature Board of Review. These Commissions and Board are independent and do not report to, or receive direction from, the Department.

Marilyn Little - Deputy Chief Executive Toi Hiranga - Regulation and Policy

  • Marilyn Little

    Marilyn Little

Marilyn joined the Department in 2006.  She was appointed Deputy Chief Executive of Policy, Regulation and Communities in October 2017.  Marilyn has held a number of roles in the Department, including Chief Archivist/General Manager of Archives NZ for three and a half years.  She was previously General Manager of the Policy Group, and Director Local Government and Community Policy. Prior to her work with Internal Affairs, Marilyn held senior roles in the Office of the Auditor-General and the Department of Labour.

Marilyn has completed the Leadership Development Centre’s Advanced Leadership Programme, and holds a Master of Public Policy and a BA Honours in History.

As Deputy Chief Executive Regulation and Policy - Toi Hiranga, Marilyn has the following people reporting to her:


Dr Suzanne Doig

General Manager Policy

Anita Balakrishnan

Director Ministerial, Monitoring and Capability

Caroline BridglandHill

General Manager Regulatory Services

Gina Smith

Director Inquiries

Trina Lowry

Manager Branch Strategy and Performance

Andrew Fieldsend

Chief Advisor, Regulatory Assurance and Stewardship


 Maria Robertson - Deputy Chief Executive Kāwai ki te Iwi - Service Delivery and Operations

  • Maria Robertson

    Maria Robertson

Maria Robertson has held the role of Deputy Chief Executive, Service Delivery and Operations - Kāwai ki te Iwi, since February 2013.

She leads a team of 900 staff in the passports, citizenship, births, deaths and marriages, community operations, charities and igovt areas.

Before this, Maria was the DCE for Service Delivery at Building and Housing where she was the deputy Chief Executive Organisational Development and Strategy.

Prior to that, Maria was the General Manager Advanced Dynamics (NZ) Ltd and Manager Performance Improvement Woodproducts at Carter Holt Harvey.  She has also held senior roles in Telecom Comalco and Rio Tinto.

As Deputy Chief Executive Service Delivery and Operations - Kāwai ki te Iwi, Maria has the following people reporting to her:


Russell Burnard

General Manager Operations, and Registrar General for Births, Deaths and Marriages

Greg Archer

Programme Director, Te Ara Manaaki

Tiffany Scott

General Manager Planning, Design and Assurance

Clare Toufexis

General Manager Community Operations

Charlotte Stanley

General Manager Charities Services

Justin Rowlands

General Manager Te Pou Manawa - Partners and Products

Hollie Pohatu

Director Pou Ārahi

Julia Wootton

General Manager Services and Access


Darrin Sykes - Deputy Chief Executive He Pou Aronui - Organisational Capability and Services Branch

  • Darrin Sykes

    Darrin Sykes

Darrin Sykes MNZM JP CMInstD has held the role of Deputy Chief Executive He Pou Aronui - Organisational Capability and Services Branch since February 2023. This role spans strategy, implementation and performance for the branch, organisational capability and culture development, organisational infrastructure and system investment, and smart delivery of core organisational services. Core organisational services are delivered by the following teams: Workplace Services Group - He Ringa Manaaki; Human Resources - Pūmanawa Tangata; Finance - Kōkiri Tāuru; Communications - Te Manu Karere ; Technology Services and Solutions - Te Ara Matihiko; and Branch Development & Support - Te Waka Aukaha.

Darrin is Ngāti Rangitihi/Ngāti Awa and brings a strong set of public service skills and experiences to Te Tari Taiwhenua. Darrin joined Te Tari from the Office of Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti where he was the Deputy Chief Executive, Organisational Services. Darrin has worked in the Māori-Crown Relations space for over 20 years including his role as Acting Deputy Chief Executive People, Culture and Enabling Services, Oranga Tamariki; Chief Executive CFRT; Acting Deputy Secretary Support Services Te Puni Kōkiri and as the Director Waitangi Tribunal. Darrin is a current Public Service Commission Corporate Development Board Member appointed back in 2020.

Darrin also has held several directorships on governing boards; Capital & Coast District Coast Board Government appointee from 2010-2019, where he was Deputy Chair and then Chair of the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee; and Sport New Zealand Board Member Government appointee from 2013-2020. Darrin was an external reviewer for the 2019 Performance Improvement Framework self-review of the Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) and is again a reviewer assisting the Commission in 2023. Darrin has been a member of the Institute of Directors of NZ since 2003 and has been a Chartered Member (CMInstD) of the Institute since 2014.

Darrin also comes from a strong sports and recreation background including being director and Chair for a Touch Rugby NZ for 23 years. Darrin’s service and contribution to the sport of Touch Rugby in New Zealand was recognised in 2013 when he was awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM). Darrin was also a Board Member of Sport Wellington/Nuku Ora from 2011 to 2019.

Darrin is the Touch NZ National Director of Referees and is also a member of the Federation of International Touch Rugby Referee Commission where he has served continuously since 1999. Darrin was awarded Life Membership of the Federation of International Touch in January 2022.

As Deputy Chief Executive Organisational Capability and Services - He Pou Aronui, Darrin has the following people reporting to him:


Simon George

General Manager Human Resources

Murray Davey

General Manager Technology Services and Solutions, Chief Information Officer

Sharyn Mitchell

Chief Financial Officer 

Eleanor Sabiston 

Acting Manager Branch Development and Support

Karlene Symonds

General Manager Workplace Services

Back to top