Stephen Gale - an associate member of the Commerce Commission - has been appointed New Zealand's telecommunications commissioner, taking over from the outgoing commissioner, Ross Patterson.

An independent panel was convened to consider the 44 applications for the role, and recommended the appointment of Gale, Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams said in a statement.

"The telecommunications commissioner's role remains a vital one to the success of the industry and it was important we found the best candidate," she said in a statement.

Gale has been an associate member of the Commerce Commission since July 2010, and has sat on the telecommunications division of the commission since February of this year. The appointment is for a five-year term, starting on July 12.


Patterson has been commissioner for the last 5 years.

"Dr Patterson played an important role in the success of the telecommunications sector during his tenure, including participating in the operational separation of Telecom, the unbundling of the local copper loop, and mobile termination regulation," Adams said.

Adams said Gale had previously been a director of the advisory firm Castalia.

He was with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research from 1986 to 2003 and was with the Ministry of Energy before that.

He holds a doctorate in physics from Cambridge University.

Gale has specialised in energy policy, regulation and, in the past 15 years, competition policy, Adams said.