Jacki Johnson, New Zealand chief executive of insurance business IAG, is stepping down from the role to take up a new position as Group Executive of people, performance and reputation for IAG as a whole - based in Australia.

The announcement today also named executive general manager of IAG's direct insurance business in New Zealand Craig Olsen, as Johnson's successor, as part of a new Group leadership team the company has put in place.

Johnson has been chief executive since 2010 and throughout a period of unprecedented growth within the company as well as dealing with the challenges posed by the Canterbury earthquakes. She said she had been privileged to work with the team in New Zealand, and was leaving the business in "capable hands".

"Our business is significantly different from what it was when I came here," Johnson said. "We have grown to be a $2 billion business, but most importantly we've worked hard to support our customers. The Canterbury earthquakes have tested everyone, and resolving the remaining claims remains a top priority," she said.

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"I am proud to have been part of a company that has leveraged its strength and contributed beyond just paying claims to working with other sectors to contribute to a better outcome for the rebuild than might otherwise have been the case. I will be leaving IAG in very capable hands as the business looks to deepen its relationship with customers and stakeholders."

Johnson's contribution to the company was recognised recently with her being named a finalist in the executive of the year category in the Deloitte Top 200 Awards.

IAG Group managing director and chief executive Peter Harmer paid tribute to the outgoing executive.

"Jacki is an exceptional leader," Harmer said. "The reasons she'll be missed in New Zealand are why she has so much to offer within the new group leadership structure."

Ms Johnson's new role as IAG Group Executive, People, Performance & Reputation will see her responsible for people and culture, corporate affairs, shared value and the IAG Foundation.

"If IAG is to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage in the markets it operates in, we need to have high-performing and engaged people and a strong reputation with all our stakeholders including our people, government and communities," Johnson said. "I'm excited to be taking on this responsibility."

Olsen has had a lot of experience with the company, including being in charge of the integration of AMI into IAG following its acquisition in 2012. He will take over as New Zealand chief executive on January 1 2016, subject to approval from the Reserve Bank.