Labour leader David Cunliffe has appointed journalist Simon Cunliffe as his chief press secretary and media director.

The pair are first cousins - their fathers were brothers.

Simon Cunliffe has been a deputy editor of the Otago Daily Times and a deputy editor of The Press in Christchurch.

He was a columnist and won the Best Columnist at the 2012 Canon media awards.


He wrote a play, The Truth Game, about a newspaper in transition to the digital age which was shown at Wellington's Circa Theatre last year.

At present he is acting chief of staff at the sub-editing and production hub at Fairfax editorial services in Wellington.

David Cunliffe took over the Labour leadership on September 15. He took no part in the official interview of his cousin which was conducted by deputy leader David Parker, front bencher Grant Robertson and chief of staff Wendy Brandon. The interview team recommended the appointment which was accepted by David Cunliffe.