By JIM EAGLES

In a further changing of the guard at Carter Holt Harvey, the chairman of the board for the past 10 years, Sir Wilson Whineray, is stepping down.

The board has elected experienced company director John Maasland to take over at the end of April.

The announcement comes three months after CHH's chief executive, Chris Liddell, was abruptly moved to a job as vice-president for finance at the Connecticut head office of majority owner International Pulp and Paper.

Sir Wilson said he had decided not to seek re-election at the annual meeting in April because 10 years as chairman was long enough.

There had, he noted, been considerable comment - including in Britain's Higgs Report - about what was an appropriate length of time for directors to hold office.

"I do feel philosophically that after 10 years as chairman it is time to step aside and let someone else take over," he said.

"Not all directors may agree with that stance but I believe it's right for me."

Sir Wilson's decision will end a 34-year association with the company, beginning when the former All Black captain joined Alex Harvey Industries, which in 1985 merged with Carter Holt to form the present company.

By 1987 he was deputy managing director of CHH, in 1989 he joined the board and in 1993, when he retired from management, he was promptly elected chairman.

Those years had seen great change, he said, but "the company is now in pretty good shape and there's not much left to do".

Sir Wilson emphasised that his decision did not mean he was retiring. He will continue as chairman of the ANZ Bank's New Zealand board, as a director of several companies, including APN News and Media, owners of the Herald, and with his work for sport, which includes membership of the Eden Park Trust Board.

Maasland, his successor as chairman, is on the boards of a wide range of companies, including APN News and Media, New Zealand Radio Network - both of which he chairs - Infrastructure Auckland, La Grouw Corporation and Walker Wireless.