Wintec has suspended its search for a new chief executive following the government announcing dramatic plans to shake-up the tertiary sector.

It is now unknown how long the recruitment process for the Hamilton tertiary institute's new chief executive will be on hold for while the Wintec council waits for more information about the reform facing the country's polytechs.

The search for Wintec's new boss kicked off in mid-January and had hoped to be finalised by April 2019.

The recruitment process was being carried out by Auckland-based consultancy firm Generator Talent Group at an estimated cost of $75,000. A job ad was placed on Seek last month and the deadline for applications for the role closed on February 11.

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Wintec chairman Barry Harris confirmed the council had halted the process of the recruitment of a new chief executive for Wintec at a council meeting last week.

"It was done in light of the recent sector announcements and changes proposed. Status of the CE recruitment is that it remains on hold," he said.

The appointment of the chief executive is a Wintec Council responsibility and it had not received any directive from the government.

In the meantime Wintec senior adviser and director of international David Christiansen will continue in the role of acting chief executive.

The top position became vacant after incumbent Mark Flowers announced his retirement in mid-November 2018 following a turbulent few years where he was the subject of two separate investigations.

The outcome of the investigations released this earlier this month cleared him of any major wrongdoing, despite acknowledging he should have better handled a conflict of interest with a staff member. An audit report also heavily criticised the organisation for breaking policies and procedures in regards to overseas expenditure and could not be confident no wrongdoing had taken place.

Flowers has been on sick leave since August 2018 and his last official day after 16 years in the role is on Friday.

Earlier this month education minister Chris Hipkins announced plans to set up a new national body to take over all of New Zealand's 110,000 polytechnic students and 140,000 apprentices and industry trainees.

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The proposed NZ Institute of Skills and Technology would take over programme design and administration for all campuses of the 16 separate polytechnics including Wintec.

A national governing council appointed by the minister would be in charge of the long-term capital and operational strategies, oversee capital asset management and set and oversee operational budgets.

Meanwhile the Wintec chief executive search is not the only recruitment process that was placed on hold in Waikato in the last week. Waikato District Health Board chairwoman Sally Christie also announced that its four-month search for its new chief executive was also on hold due to "challenges facing the board".

The Waikato DHB had already spent $73,199 on an "executive search fee" to Kerridge and Partners including $8700 in disbursements – mainly advertising to find the right candidate.

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