Auckland coroner Morag McDowell has been appointed the new Health and Disability Commissioner.
McDowell, a once part-time opera singer, replaces Anthony Hill, who has been at the helm of the health watchdog since 2010.
Health Minister David Clark made the announcement today, saying McDowell would take over the role on September 7.
"Morag McDowell is highly regarded and is an exceptionally experienced and qualified individual who will make an outstanding Commissioner," Clark said.
McDowell has been a coroner in the Auckland region since 2007 and has a Master of Laws from the University of Auckland.
"I am delighted that she has accepted what is a crucial role, promoting and protecting the rights of New Zealanders when they access our health and disability services."
In 2018, McDowell presided over the second inquest into the death of medical student Zachary Gravatt from meningitis at Auckland Hospital in 2009.
McDowell did not accept an on-call doctor's evidence about being stuck in bad traffic while rushing back to the hospital to attend to Gravatt.
He was in a Ponsonby restaurant when he received the first call about Zachary, about an hour before he died.
The 22-year-old's parents, Dr Lance and Jennifer Gravatt, said that inquest answered the questions they had over their son's death, which they believe might have been prevented with better care earlier on the day Gravatt was admitted to hospital.
McDowell's appointment begins a month earlier than expected. Hill's appointment was originally due to end in October.
In April, Hill announced he would donate a portion of his salary to charity for six months along with other top public servants, a move that followed the Prime Minister's lead to cut the public pay purse during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Herald has asked the HDC which charities Hill, his deputy Rose Wall and Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan will donate 20 per cent of their salary to and whether the donations have begun.
Clark expressed gratitude to Hill for his time in the top job.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Anthony Hill for the hard work and dedication he has given to the role of Health and Disability Commissioner for the last decade, and his extensive public sector contribution prior to this."
The Health and Disability Commissioner is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Health.
Meanwhile, Clark also announced the appointments to the inaugural Paramedic Council which were confirmed by gazette this week.
The council members are Bronwyn Tunnage, Michelle (Mitch) Mullooly, Sean Thompson, David Ivory, Carlton Irving, Nigel Watson and Barbara Bernadette (Bernadette) Pereira.
"The new council will oversee regulation of New Zealand's more than 1000 paramedics in the same way as the Medical Council oversees doctors and the Nursing Council oversees nurses," Clark said.
"This recognition of paramedics' role is long overdue given their work to assess, treat, transport, and refer thousands of New Zealanders each year, often in emergency situations."
The council's job is to ensure the professional standard to which paramedics' work will be maintained and enhanced.
The council's first major task is to establish the new standards and processes required before all paramedics have to be registered.
The appointments of the Health and Disability Commissioner and to the Paramedic Council were confirmed by Cabinet on June 8.