Xero chair Graham Smith will hand over the reins of board at the end of January and retire from the board in March.

Smith's departure was earlier than planned due to the health of close family members and the travel needed for him given Xero's ASX-listing and Wellington headquarters. Smith joined the board as an independent director in 2015 and assumed the chair two years later when Chris Liddell departed to take a top job in Donald Trump's US administration.

Former Telstra chief executive David Thodey will take over the chair from February, Xero said.

"David brings deep experience to Xero from his career as a business leader in global technology and telecommunications and has made a valuable contribution to the board since joining," Smith said in a statement.

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Xero has gone through major change over the past couple of years as it de-listed from the NZX and saw founder Rod Drury hand over the executive reins to Steve Vamos.

Through that time it managed to hit 2 million paying subscribers, and is on the verge of reporting a maiden annual profit.

The ASX-listed shares opened at A$78.565 today, down 0.4 percent, valuing the firm at A$11.1 billion.

Xero wasn't the only firm announcing leadership changes today.

Honey products maker Comvita hired a new chief executive David Banfield, starting on Jan. 20. Banfield ran tapmaker Methven for five years before it was sold to ASX-listed GWA.

Long-serving chair Neil Craig will hand over the chairmanship to Brett Hewlett when Banfield starts, and retire from the board in June.

Comvita has struggled to meet its potential in recent years, blaming its poor performance on a range of things such as being undercut in Chinese markets to struggling to secure honey.

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The shares rose 1.8 percent to $2.85 today, but are a far cry from the $12.85 peak in mid-2016.

Utilities software company Gentrack also unveiled changes today.

Director James Docking, who ran Gentrack for more than a decade, yesterday stepped down from the board and was replaced by ASX-listed Integrated Research's former chief executive Darc Rasmussen, both effective immediately.

Chief financial officer Tim Bluett – who joined the company last year – will leave at the end of January.

Gentrack downgraded its guidance three times in the September 2019 financial year and projected flat earnings for 2020. That saw the share price slump to $3.75, near the two-and-a-half year low it hit at the start of the month.

Ngai Tahu Holdings – the commercial arm of the South Island iwi – appointed director Mike Pohio as its new chief executive. Pohio led Tainui Group Holdings for nine years. He will step down from the board when he starts next month.

- BusinessDesk