The agency with the huge task of designing Auckland's Super City has been announced.
At a media conference in Auckland this afternoon, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide announced Mark Ford would chair the Auckland Transition Agency appointment - as had been widely expected.
Mr Ford will step down as chief executive of the region's water wholesaler, Watercare Services, and chairman of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority to take on the role.
Mr Ford - Mr Hide's choice to chair the agency - has his critics, including an anonymous smear campaign saying he has a "secret transition plan" for the water industry with overtones of privatisation.
Some National Cabinet ministers are understood to have had concerns about his conflicts of interest heading Watercare and the transport authority.
Accountant John Waller, who chairs the Bank of New Zealand and the Eden Park Redevelopment Board, and Wayne Walden, a former boss of Farmers Deka and former Maori Television chairman also join the agency, along with former Rodney mayor John Law and lawyer Miriam Dean, QC.
The agency has the job of restructuring the eight councils into a single entity by October 31 next year.
It will be one of the largest mergers in the country, involving about 6800 council staff and $28 billion of assets.
The Government passed legislation under urgency on Saturday to set up the agency with wide powers. The legislation also set up the Super Auckland Council as a legal entity.
The agency will be able to review any council decisions during the transition period that may "significantly prejudice the reorganisation" and will approve council contracts worth more than $20,000 that run past June 2011 and council borrowing beyond then.
Mr Hide said the powers of the agency were strong, but they were needed to effect the transition. Green Party local government spokeswoman Sue Kedgley has called the powers of the agency "draconian".