Former Defence chief Vice-Admiral Sir Neil Anderson has died in Wellington, aged 83.

Born and educated in Hastings, Sir Neil was defence chief from 1980 to 1983.

He was chief of naval staff from 1978 to 1980, his promotion coming after a distinguished career in the Royal New Zealand Navy, which he joined as a cadet in 1944.

He served in Korea aboard the HMNZS Rotoiti in 1950-51 and was later a navigation specialist before becoming commanding officer of navy ships, such as the Taranaki, Philomel and Waikato.

He was made a Companion of the Order of Bath (CB) in 1982 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) two years later.

Sir Neil died in Wellington Hospital on Saturday after a fall at his home. He is survived by his wife, acclaimed author Barbara Anderson, and son Piers. Another son, Jeremy, died five years ago. The Andersons have five grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Waikanae on Thursday.

- NZPA