Auckland Mayor and former Labour leader Phil Goff will become New Zealand's next High Commissioner to the UK when he finishes his term.
The appointment may not be officially signed off by Cabinet until much closer to the announcement, and therefore denied, but an agreement has been reached, the Herald understands.
The local body elections don't take place until October and so Goff is unlikely to begin the new role until next year.
The current High Commissioner is career diplomat Bede Corry, who was one of the leading contenders in 2019 to head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) when Brooke Barrington left to head the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
When Chris Seed was appointed to the top MFAT job, Bede Corry got the highly coveted post in London as a consolation.
For some time last year, Goff was tipped to become the next New Zealand Ambassador to the United States when distinguished veteran diplomat Rosemary Banks leaves. But he ruled that out when announcing his decision to retire after two terms as mayor.
Corry or Barrington might be considered for the post in Washington, which has traditionally been filled by a career diplomat, with just a handful of exceptions.
London, on the other hand, is the opposite. Of New Zealand's 18 appointments as High Commissioner to the UK over the past 50 years, 12 have been political appointments of former politicians and just six have been non-political (five diplomats and one former military man and former Governor-General Jerry Mateparae).
Former Labour MPs filling the role have been Terry McCoombs, Hugh Watt, Joe Walding, Russell Marshall and Jonathan Hunt.
Former National MPs doing likewise have been Doug Carter, Les Gandar, Bill Young, George Gair, Paul East, and Lockwood Smith, plus former National Party president John Collinge.
As a former foreign minister, trade minister and defence minister, Goff is well placed to manage the relationship with Britain as it seeks greater engagement internationally since leaving the European Union.
He may also be well placed to help diplomatic efforts in Europe to get the trade deal with the EU finalised and off to a smooth start.
Another more controversial appointment thought to be under consideration is sending Speaker Trevor Mallard to Dublin, where career diplomat Brad Burgess has been New Zealand's first ambassador since 2018.
Burgess is a trade specialist and led New Zealand's successful trade deal with Britain, which was concluded last year.
Mallard himself has sometimes joked about his lack of diplomacy but has also pointed out that no Speaker since he entered Parliament in 1984 has completed two full terms.
Former Labour deputy leader Dame Annette King is the only current political appointee to a diplomatic post.
She was appointed High Commissioner to Australia by former foreign minister Winston Peters, who objects to political appointments other than in exceptional circumstances. And it is widely accepted that King is doing a good job in Canberra.
She was deputy leader to Goff and turns 75 in September. She has been reappointed and is due to return at the end of 2023. Goff will turn 69 in June.
Goff was Labour leader for three years after the party lost Government in 2008 and went into Opposition. He left Parliament in 2016 to seek the mayoralty.