The appointment of Adrian Orr as New Zealand's next Reserve Bank Governor was met with a surge in the kiwi dollar – indicating markets see the current chief executive of the NZ Superannuation Fund as a sensible and stable choice.

Orr certainly has the experience for the job and had been tipped early on as a likely candidate.

The kiwi currency rose almost a quarter of a cent against the US dollar after the announcement by Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Orr is a former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank where he headed up the economics division and he worked as an Economist at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the mid-1990s.


He has also worked in senior management as a chief economist for both the National Bank and more recently Westpac.

"He is a very well-known quantity and he is someone who will be viewed as very competent," said ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley. "He has a good pragmatic understanding of what monetary policy can and can't achieve."

Orr comes into the Reserve Bank at a time when it is facing a significant policy review.

Robertson, who had the final call on recommendation from the Reserve Bank board, said he had ensured the board was aware that whoever was appointed would accept the new government's policy of targeting not only inflation but also the level of unemployment when setting monetary policy.

The changes proposed by the new Government will also see decision-making on interest rates done by committee.

However, the focus would still remain very much on the Governor and Orr had proven himself to be a very good communicator, Tuffley said.

"He is very good at being able to see how one thing relates to another and that causation and effect. It is something that has made him a very good economist."

In discussion about who might get the role Orr had always been high on the list of names, Tuffley said.

"The only question mark was, would he be interested in shifting from the current job."

Orr is likely to take a pay cut when he switches to the Reserve Bank.

As chief executive of the Superannuation Fund he was the highest paid public servant in the country.

His remuneration, of more than $1 million, attracted controversy when a pay rise awarded by his board was criticised by then-Prime Minister Bill English earlier this year.

In contrast, the previous Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler reportedly had a salary of $660,000.

Wheeler stepped down after one five-year term in September - with deputy governor Grant Spencer stepping into the role for six months to provide continuity through the election period.

Orr was born and grew up in Taupo - with one grandparent born in Ireland, another in the Cook Islands. He still has strong links to the Pacific Island nation.

In his role as NZ Superannuation CEO he has overseen average annual growth of 10.5 per cent since 2007. Over the last five years it has returned 16.2 per cent per annum.

The Super Fund currently manages some $37.2 billion dollars worth of state funds.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens described him as a "balanced choice".

"While this is not an internal appointment, Adrian is closer to being a Reserve Bank insider than other recent Governors," he said. "He is well known as a strong communicator and is no stranger to the media, which bodes well for the clarity of communications with financial markets."

Adrian Orr




BA in economics and geography (Waikato University), MA in economics (Leicester University)


Currently CEO NZ Super fund. Previously deputy Reserve Bank governor (head of economics), Chief economist National Bank and Westpac, OECD economist


Devonport with wife, novelist Sue Orr, and their three children