The bosses of New Zealand's biggest companies enjoyed an average pay rise of 10 per cent last year, their biggest bump since 2010.

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The increase for those at the top dwarfs the 3 per cent of growth for the average wage and salary earner in the year to June 2014.

The Business Herald's executive pay survey shows a return to double-digit growth for bosses, up from a more modest 4 per cent in 2013.

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A record 11 executives received at least $2 million in 2014 - the highest number to do so since our survey began a decade ago.

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The top spot was retained by ANZ New Zealand's chief executive David Hisco, who received $4.27 million in 2014 - up around $250,000 from the year before.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings is snapping at Hisco's heels on $4.18 million, although his pay rise of $660,000 in 2014 wasn't enough to dethrone the banking boss.

CEO salaries and company profit/loss from 2004 to 2014

Fonterra last week announced a review of its head office structure as the business comes under pressure from falling global dairy prices.

Spierings was also the second highest paid New Zealand executive in 2013.

The number three in this year's survey - Fletcher Building boss Mark Adamson on $3.73 million - is also the same as 12 months' ago.

A fresh face, however, has emerged at number four with Ebos managing director Mark Waller earning $3.48 million in 2014 - his final year at the company's helm.

Waller held the reins at Ebos for 27 years and oversaw tremendous growth but stepped down from the top position last September.

His 2014 pay packet was the biggest he has ever got, up almost 60 per cent on what he received in 2013, although only just higher than his 2012 remuneration.

Hear Herald writer Hamish Fletcher discuss the latest CEO Pay Survey with NewsTalk ZB's Rachel Smalley here:

SkyCity Entertainment's Nigel Morrison, who earned $3.24 million in 2014, also enjoyed his best ever pay packet since he joined the casino operator in 2008.

Diligent Board Member Services boss Alex Sodi may not have made the top five but his $1.94 million - or 174 per cent - pay rise was larger than any of his colleagues.

His 2014 pay included US$1.4 million of 'replacement remuneration' to compensate for cancelled options.

Sodi's pay dipped to $1.12 million in 2013 but last year's $3.07 million was still close to $300,000 more than he earned in 2012. He was replaced as chief executive earlier this year.

Other big risers in 2014 include Meridian Energy's Mark Binns, whose remuneration of $1.86 million was up 70 per cent.

Fellow energy executive Doug Heffernan's pay of $2.18 million was up by 68 per cent during 2014 - his last year heading Mighty River Power.

While many got double or even triple figure pay growth, no New Zealand company heads managed to crack the $5 million mark like four bosses did in 2010.

That year Westpac's George Frazis, Nuplex's John Hirst, Telecom's Paul Reynolds and Fonterra's Andrew Ferrier were all paid in excess of $5 million.

However, this year we may see pay back at those levels.

Hisco, already New Zealand's highest earner, could expect to get another pay increase in 2015, given his additional appointment as ANZ Group's global head of retail banking in February.

The South Australian - who has been with the company for more than three decades - is seen by some as a contender for ANZ's top job, where he would preside over the entire banking group.

If he does ascend to that role, Hisco's pay would likely more than double, with present boss Michael Smith earning A$10.44m last year.

Of Hisco's fellow banking chiefs only Westpac's Peter Clare features in the survey at $2.98 million.

ASB's Barbara Chapman and BNZ's Anthony Healy likely earn comparable salaries.

However, Healy had not worked a full 12 months by BNZ's reporting date in September. Chapman's salary is not broken out from remuneration tables of ASB's Australian parent CBA.