The head of one of the country's largest and most diverse district health boards will lead the new transformational agency Health New Zealand.
Fepulea'i Margie Apa, who became the first person of Samoan heritage to head a DHB when she became chief executive at Counties Manukau in 2018, has been appointed chief executive of interim Health New Zealand.
Apa also currently leads the northern region Covid-19 response.
Riana Manuel (Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Kahungunu) has been appointed chief executive of the interim Māori Health Authority. Manuel is currently CEO at Hauraki Primary Health Organisation and Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki.
The health reforms, announced in April, will see New Zealand's 20 DHBs scrapped and replaced by one new centralised Crown entity, Health New Zealand.
The Māori Health Authority is to be the lead commissioner of health services targeted at Māori and "act as co-commission for other health services accessed by Māori, working jointly with Health NZ to approve commissioning plans and priorities".
Its formation comes after years of outrage from those working in the health sector about inequities and breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and was recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal in 2019 and the Simpson review last year.
Manuel has been involved with kaupapa Māori organisations for most of her career.
"This reform highlights partnership and has an equity focus and after 30 years in the health sector, those are extremely important to me," Manuel said.
"Ultimately if we get it right for Māori and Pacifika whānau, we'll get it right for everybody."
Manuel will be based in South Auckland where the biggest population of Māori and Pacifika whānau live.
"This signals we're a change-making agent for all of our people. If we're going to affect equity – if we are truly going to demonstrate partnership – South Auckland is a great place to start."
Both Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority will become permanent entities in July next year, and both chief executives will start their new roles in the first quarter.
Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare said both chief executives had extensive experience to create an equitable health system.
"Margie and Riana have strong connections to Māori and Pacific communities that have been underserved by our health system, which will be essential to address the disproportionate health outcomes that have long affected our whānau.
"Addressing inequity needs to be the responsibility of the entire health system, and we need to have these voices represented across all levels and organisations."
Health Minister Andrew Little said a New Zealand Health Charter was being developed, which will set the values of the new public health system, as well as the Government Policy Statement on Health and an interim Health Plan.
There will be pilot programmes early next year ahead of transferring functions from DHBs to the Ministry of Health, Little said.
"These appointments show that this Government remains committed to getting on with the work needed to reform the health system to lay the foundations for a better future for all New Zealanders," Little said.
"We need a system that works for everyone, and that is what we are building."
Apa also chairs the National DHB Chief Executives Forum, and has previous leadership experience at deputy director-general level in the Ministry of Health.
Legislation providing for the new entities, the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill, has passed its first reading in the House.
The reforms have faced heavy scrutiny, particularly the Māori Health Authority which former National leader Judith Collins likened to "separatism". New leader Christopher Luxon has made similar comments.
Little has defended functions of the authority, saying it represented partnership, a key principle of the Treaty of Waitangi, and was vital for Māori to turn around hugely inequitable health outcomes, including the fact Māori die on average seven years earlier than non-Māori.
Little said the proposal wasn't for two different systems - but for one system with two partners who will have to agree.