Former Whanganui mayor Annette Main, ONZM, has been appointed as a member of the UCOL council.

Main's was one of 26 appointments announced yesterday by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

"Those appointed to the institutes of technology and polytechnic councils come at a critical time for the sector," Hipkins said.

"They will contribute valuable insights to the tertiary education commission-led engagement with the polytechnic sector and wider community on the sector changes needed to make it more sustainable and effective in delivering for our regions."

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Main was mayor of Whanganui from 2010 to 2016 and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit last year.

She lived in Wellington for a time, working in public relations for New Zealand Post, before returning to Whanganui to be with her family.

Main worked as a tourism officer for the Whanganui District Council and eventually started a tourism retreat called The Flying Fox with her husband, John Blythe, who died in 2013.

UCOL council chairman Malcolm Inglis departs the council, replaced by deputy chairman Ben Vanderkolk. Leanne Southey is the new deputy chairwoman and Pamela Jefferies was reappointed to the council.