Board of Commissioners

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is governed by a Board of Commissioners. Our Board has between six to nine members who:

  • set our strategic direction and make decisions about funding allocations
  • monitor the performance of the Chief Executive and the organisation
  • oversee management of strategic risk.

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (the Minister) appoints the Board and the position of Chair. Our Board is responsible to the Minister.

The Minister is supported by the Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment

John Spencer
Tertiary Education Commission Chair, John Spencer

John is a Wellington-based businessman and company director. He has been our Chair since August 2012 and brings substantial governance experience to his role.

He has been a director and Chair of several companies over the last 10 years and is also:

  • Chair of KiwiRail, Raukawa Iwi Development Ltd and Waikato Regional Airport Ltd
  • on the Board of Mitre 10.

John’s background includes a period as the Chief Executive of NZ Dairy Group – one of the two dairy companies that merged to form Fonterra.

Nigel Gould
Commissioner, Nigel Gould

Nigel is a chartered accountant, with a career in management positions including managing director of a publicly listed company. He has been a Commissioner on our Board since May 2013 and is:

  • Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority of NZ, the Young Enterprise Trust and Destination Marlborough
  • a director of other companies.

Nigel served on the Massey University Council for 10 years, including six years as Chancellor. In 1980, he was elected to the Wellington Harbour Board and became Chair. He continued this involvement with port governance as Chair of Centreport until 2008. He is a past president of the Wellington Regional and New Zealand Chambers of Commerce.

Over the past 30 years, Nigel has established companies in the information technology, primary and exporting sectors, and has recently taken an active interest in tourism. He is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Institute of Directors. In 2010, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and awarded an honorary doctorate of commerce by Massey University.

Dale Karauria
Commissioner, Dale Karauria

Dale joined the Board in September 2016 and is also the Chair of the Careers NZ Board.

She has over 15 years’ experience in government policy and strategy roles, primarily focused on Māori development, education, training and employment. This includes her being part of the team that established the TEC, and secured TEC’s Māori name, Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua, from her ‘pāpā’ the late Dr. Apirana Mahuika.   

Dale also has wide experience as a private sector consultant, and is currently a director of Dakoda Visions Ltd, a consultancy providing strategic advice across the government sector.

Dale is Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungunu.

Commissioner, Christopher Mace

Chris has a background in business and business governance in the government, public and private sectors. He has been a Commissioner on our Board since May 2013 and:

  • is Chair of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
  • was a founding trustee of the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Chris works closely with the tertiary sector, with a focus on marine science and research. He chaired a support group for the redevelopment of the Marine Research Campus for the University of Auckland at Leigh. He is a former Chair of the Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR) and Antarctica New Zealand.

In 2004, Chris was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Antarctica and the community. In 2015, he was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame and, in 2016, made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to science and education. He was Māori Business Leader of the Year in 2011. 

John Morris
Commissioner, John Morris

John has extensive experience in education and has been a Commissioner on our Board since November 2012. He is a member of the Education New Zealand Board and the Partnership Schools’ Authorisation Board, and is:

  • Chair of the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand Transition Board
  • founding Chair of the Association of Cambridge Schools in New Zealand
  • Senior Education Advisor for Cambridge International Examinations.

John is a former Chair of the Education Forum. He was the Headmaster at Auckland Grammar School for 20 years, the Principal of Takapuna Grammar School and a member of the University of Auckland Council.

In 2013, John was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education. In 1999, he was awarded a Woolf Fisher Fellowship for Outstanding Educational Leadership.

Phil O'Reilly
Commissioner, Phil O'Reilly

Formerly Chief Executive of BusinessNZ, New Zealand’s largest business advocacy group, Phil is now the Director of Iron Duke Partners Limited. He has been a Commissioner on our Board since September 2013 and is:

  • Chair of the Board of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD
  • a member of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation
  • Chair or member of several public and private advisory boards in areas as diverse as manufacturing, exports, trade, tax, retirement, research and development, innovation, employment, child poverty, health and safety, skills, government procurement and sustainable business.

Phil and his Wellington-based team work with companies, organisations and political and other decision-makers, advocating for New Zealand’s success through sustainable economic growth. Phil chaired New Zealand’s Green Growth Advisory Group.

In 2016, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business and governance. 

Susan Paterson
Commissioner, Susan Paterson

Susan has been a professional director for the past 18 years. She has been a Commissioner on our Board since June 2015 and is:

  • Chair of Airways Corporation and Theta Systems Ltd
  • director of Electricity Authority, Goodman NZ, Abano Healthcare Ltd, Arvida Ltd, Housing NZ Ltd and Les Mills NZ Ltd.

Susan completed an MBA at the London Business School, before working in management roles in the UK and New Zealand. For 10 years, she was a strategy consultant for Boston-based Index Group throughout Europe and USA. Previous directorships include Ports of Auckland Ltd, Transpower NZ Ltd, Auckland Regional Holdings and Tower Health and Life.

Susan has a keen interest in sport, education and the environment. She is Chair of the Home of Cycling (Avantidrome), past Chair of NZ Eco-Labelling Trust and Auckland Hockey, and a past board member of St Cuthbert's College and EECA.

In 2015, she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to corporate governance. She is also a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Vanessa Stoddart
Commissioner, Vanessa Stoddart

Vanessa has been a Commissioner on our Board since September 2013 and is:

  • a member of the Financial Markets Authority Board
  • an independent director for NZ Refinery Limited, The Warehouse Group Limited, Alliance Group Limited and Paymark Limited
  • a board member of Global Women and on the board of Kings College School
  • Business NZ’s representative on the Defence Forces Employer Support Council
  • a member of DOC and MBIE’s Audit and Risk Committees.

Vanessa was also previously a member of the Better Public Services Advisory Board and Chair of the Otago University Business School Advisory Board. Before her governance career, for nearly 10 years, Vanessa was Group General Manager of People at Air New Zealand and, in later years, Technical Operations. Before that, she was chief executive at Carter Holt Harvey Packaging Australia.

Vanessa is a member of both the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Directors and an honorary fellow of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand. She is also a Companion of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand.  


  • Last changed: 5 October 2016
  • Last verified: 5 October 2016