So long, Ian Fletcher, but don’t worry, we have plenty of outstanding candidates.

Only fitting, really, for a spy boss to exit under a shroud of mystery. And so it is with Ian Fletcher, the reforming, information-age director of the Government Communications Security Bureau - in Bond-speak, our "M" - who surprised everyone this week by announcing he is jumping ship three years into a five-year term, and just before an independent review of intelligence agencies. The specified grounds are " air quotes " family reasons.

At this critical juncture, who might replace the enigmatically understated Mr Fletcher? Let's push the boat outside the box.

Ian Fletcher's brother

John Key was made to squirm a couple of years ago when it emerged not only that he'd hand-picked Fletcher and scrapped the usual appointment process, but he was also a childhood friend. Not really a "friend", actually, the PM insisted. He was more friends with his brother. So let's go for the brother this time. Might have more stickability.

John Key

No doubt this would create an unusual chain of reporting, from John Key up to intel minister Chris Finlayson and then up again to John Key, but the Johns Key have proved themselves agile in their various hats in recent times. There may be constitutional objections but ultimately this is likely to founder because there is no texting allowed within GCSB HQ and John Key luvs 2 txt.

Advertisement

David Cameron

Should the British PM, a childhood friend of Key's since they met about 10 years ago, get the boot in May's election, what about a job in a Pacific outpost? He's on to this internet thing. Just this week he proposed outlawing end-to-end encryption, which would possibly force terrorists to plot using other means but also eradicate the scourge of Snapchat, online shopping and internet banking.

With many other leaders, Cameron resolutely condemns the attack on free expression seen in the Charlie Hebdo shootings, and he will do everything in his power to respond by cracking down on free expression. But it is your interests they have at heart and there is nothing in history whatsoever that makes this idea seem completely ludicrous so just relax. Think of the state as, you know, a caring older sibling.

Some other world leader

What better place from which to pluck a future GCSB boss than the statespeople who gathered in Paris this week to, alongside Cameron, resolutely condemn the attack on freedom of expression? How about the guy from Saudi Arabia, where a blogger was flogged in a public square this week as part of a 10-year incarceration and 1000-lashing sentence for "insulting Islam"? How about the Foreign Minister from Russia, where internet censorship is booming and opponents of the Kremlin risk intimidation and arrest? Or the Prime Minister of Turkey, second only to China for the title of most imprisoned journalists in the world? There were many, many other such world leaders on parade in Paris who showed how they are able to deal with complex issues of expression - essential in the GCSB role - by raising a fist against attacks on free speech in France while slamming a fist into free speech at home.

Johnny English

Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English: Reborn

At first glance inappropriate owing to the fact he is a bumbling fool and a fictional character, but he might slot right in. He's a real hoot, protagonist in the Prime Minister's favourite film, and probably the brother of the Finance Minister.

Kim Dotcom

Hardly a serious option, given everything, and shouldn't be listed here.

Mike Bush

New Zealand has in the past week become engulfed in the heated debate about citizens' fundamental right to freedom of expression. Specifically, freedom to express ourselves on the road by driving 7 or 8km/h over the legal speed limit with impunity. The people have stood up and shouted, "No! #jesuisamoderatespeeder".

Faced with unprecedented outcry from talkback callers and those politicians who aren't still on holiday, Police Commissioner Mike Bush has belied the force's reputation by recognising the severity of the issue - perhaps the most important issue of all time - and wholeheartedly apologising for leaving hardworking New Zealanders baffled as to the lawful speed limits, which are written in large type on roadside signs.

The GCSB needs someone with a grasp of such inviolable, innate human rights. Could Bush be the man?

Nancy Wake

Wellington-born Wake was a hero of World War II, a leading figure in the French Resistance and at one point the Gestapo's most-wanted.

The only compelling argument against Wake's appointment is her no longer being alive, but this drawback has not historically proven insurmountable for several senior public servants around the world.

Judith Collins

Ready to put the fear into western democracy's enemies, the boy racers of geopolitics. Pros: A keen internet user; available. Cons: A keen internet user; could start several major wars.

Steve Hansen

The All Black coach is perfect: wily in the face of the foreign foe, tactically brilliant, often unintelligible, and used to explaining to the Prime Minister what's going on.

Kim Dotcom

I don't know who typed his name here again but it wasn't me and obviously it's a daft idea.

Gareth Morgan

Would keep him busy, at least, but wouldn't go down well in the international cat community.

Sonny Bill Williams

He's shown his proficiency in a range of codes, and what a smile! Also, he's a GC, or - I think this is right - "good chap", so we'd end up with the GCSBW, which is a bit of a laugh and bound to raise staff morale.

Baby George's little brother/sister

What better way to make fresh waves in crucial international markets, post-Hobbit, than by appointing a Windsor as the country's senior spymaster?

Not only would it be the first time a member of a hereditary monarchy was granted largely unchecked power over the state surveillance apparatus (apart from the thousands of examples in history), it would be the first time such a senior New Zealand role had been assigned to a foetus.

Kim Dotcom

Will you stop doing this, please, whoever you are. Sure, okay: Thanks.

Willie Apiata

Willie Apiata VC

Voted New Zealand's most trusted in a survey. Courageous and a bit terrifying. No one would mess with us if he was in the job.

In fact, don't stop there: Put Apiata on the flag.