Former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen is one of three new appointments to the board of Auckland Transport, which spends about half of ratepayers' money and is a source of frustration with many Aucklanders.

The other two appointments are Mary-Jane Daly, who has a financial background, and Kylie Clegg, who has a legal background and is a former New Zealand Olympic hockey champion.

Transport blogger Patrick Reynolds has been co-opted to the board's customer focus committee to broaden the board's thinking, said Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

Goff welcomed the new appointments, saying "Auckland Transport has a vital role to play in addressing the city's major transport challenges caused by unprecedented population growth".


"I need a strong and effective board to ensure good governance and delivery of key performance indicators. All three members have governance and business experience. Between them, they bring the financial, legal and political skills we need on the board.

"With nine years' experience as Finance Minister of New Zealand, Sir Michael Cullen will be invaluable in ensuring the organisation has a strong understanding of the relationship with central government. Collaboration with government is vital in addressing Auckland's need for infrastructure funding is met," Goff said.

Cullen was finance minister from 1999 to 2008, deputy Prime Minister to Helen Clark from 2002 to 2008 and a former chairman of New Zealand Post.

Sources have told the Herald that Cullen could become Auckland Transport Board chairman when current chairman Lester Levy completes his term.

"Mary-Jane Daly and Kylie Clegg have excellent financial and legal skills and also bring a better gender balance to the Board," Goff said.

Said Levy: "These three new directors bring an excellent mix of skill and experience which will complement those we already have on our board. They came through a rigorous selection process and will be part of the next phase of driving innovative change in the region."

One of Goff's first moves as mayor was to do away with councillors sitting on the Auckland Transport board.

He said councillors Mike Lee and Chris Fletcher, who sat on the board for the past six years, could put their names forward in a competitive application process, but they chose not to.

When the Government set up the Super City in 2010 it barred councillors from sitting on council-controlled organisations (CCOs), but provided for two councillors on Auckland Transport because of its size and to provide some element of democratic representation.

Last November, Goff said the practice of simply appointing two councillors to the board of eight directors had not been effective in achieving adequate accountability or responsiveness from Auckland Transport.

In a letter to Goff last October, Lee said the removal of councillors to the board is likely to result in the antithesis of better accountability and public confidence in Auckland Transport.

The latest board appointments were made by the council's Appointments and Performance Review Committee on March 29 following a selection process.

The new directors commence their roles from May.