Five candidates will contest three seats on the board of embattled dairy company Fonterra this year.

Previously announced candidates Zespri chairman Peter McBride, Maori Television chairman and agribusiness participant Jamie Tuuta and sitting director Ashley Waugh, whose seat is up for re-election, will fight it out with newly-announced Cantabrians, former Fonterra director Leonie Guiney and large-scale dairy farmer John Nicholls.

McBride, Tuuta and Waugh are seeking election as independent nomination process candidates supported by the Fonterra board, while Guiney and Nicholls are self-nominated.

Guiney recently settled a defamation claim against the Fonterra board, over a letter the board sent Fonterra's 10,000-odd farmer-shareholders explaining why it had sought a court injunction gagging Guiney from speaking about Fonterra business.

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Guiney left the board last year after serving three years. She said she left because she was prevented from re-contesting her seat when it came up by rotation.

The aspiring directors, all of whom have financial interests in the big co-operative, are all seeking the support of Fonterra's farmer-owners in the election, which will be held in the lead-up to Fonterra's annual meeting in November.

To be elected to the board of New Zealand's largest company, a candidate must receive more than 50 per cent shareholder support.

If more than three candidates receive more than 50 per cent, the three with the most support will be elected.

Fonterra recently posted a $196 million loss, the first annual loss in its 17-year history.

Intended to be a national champion when it was created under special enabling legislation, it has been under fire from shareholders and the Beehive for its financial and investment performance.

Both its chairman and chief executive exited recently.