A military man with family connections to the Far North and Ngapuhi has been appointed the Far North District Council's new chief executive.

Shaun Clarke will take up the position on April 3, replacing Colin Dale, who has been the acting chief executive for almost three years.

Mr Clarke has extensive experience in the armed forces, diplomacy and business, but no local government experience.

His most recent role was in Canberra, where he was New Zealand's defence attaché to Australia and India. His long career with the Royal New Zealand Air Force included a range of leadership and management positions around New Zealand and internationally.


He has been a director for two businesses and has served on boards for non-profit organisations including Netball Central Zone.

Mr Clarke's qualifications include a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Queensland and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from Deakin University in Victoria. In 2004 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his service to the Defence Force.

Mr Clarke's wife, Louise, and two children are Ngapuhi from South Hokianga. They have also fostered four Northland children in the whangai tradition.

Mayor John Carter said the council's elected members were looking for an aspirational "head coach" who had a passion for the Far North and would continue to build the organisation.

Mr Carter said he was grateful to Mr Dale for the leadership and stability he has provided, building a new management team, and being able to step in at short notice when he was needed.

Mr Clarke said he and his wife had travelled widely in their defence careers but Northland had always been home. He was excited about coming home, joining the council team, and applying his experience and effort to the people and places he cared about.

"The Far North has great character and a very bright future that we're chuffed to be part of," he said.

The council received 50 applications for the job. Eight were longlisted and five made it through to the shortlist and interviews.


Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes said she was impressed by the calibre of people who applied. Any of the final five could have done the job but councillors were looking for a "head coach approach", and someone who could bring out the best in people and was passionate about the Far North.

While Mr Clarke had no local government experience that was outweighed by his strengths and the benefits of a fresh perspective. He was also being put through a Local Government NZ programme.

The council's previous chief executive, David Edmunds, was rehired under former Mayor Wayne Brown just days before the 2013 elections and left a few months later. The reasons for his departure were never disclosed. He received a payout of $193,846.