Contact Energy chair Ralph Norris is stepping down from the board of New Zealand's largest electricity retailer having overseen a board refresh following the departure of majority owner Origin Energy.

Director Rob McDonald will take over as chair from September 1, and the company expects to appoint new directors over the coming months to fill the gaps left by the resignation of Norris and the previously announced resignation of Sue Sheldon, Wellington-based Contact said in a statement.

Norris joined the board in November 2015 and was appointed chair at the following month's annual meeting, replacing Phil Pryke.

His appointment was a first step in refreshing the Contact board following the sale by Origin Energy earlier that year of its 53.4 per cent majority shareholding in the NZX-listed electricity generator and retailer, which was the first state-owned power company to be privatised in a process that began in 1999.

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Contact said today that Norris was integral to the establishment of the refreshed board after the sell down by Origin Energy and will stand down having successfully transitioned Contact from a majority-owned company to a widely held company that continues to perform strongly and has clear strategic direction.

McDonald's career spans over 30 years, having worked overseas before joining Coopers and Lybrand in the corporate advisory and valuations practice in 1985, and is a former chief financial officer at Air New Zealand.

He is a director of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, a former board member of the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand Inc, and the former vice chair of the IATA Financial Committee.

He has a Bachelor of Commerce from Auckland University and in 1999 completed the Program of Management Development at Harvard Business School.

Contact shares advanced 0.2 per cent to $5.89, having gained 15 per cent over the past year.