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Ministry Leadership Team

Paul James

Chief Executive

Manatū Taonga’s vision is Promoting a confident and connected culture.  New Zealand has a distinctive and rich culture and heritage and we want to connect more people with this.  As Chief Executive Paul is also committed to developing a confident and connected Ministry.

Paul says the Ministry has a broad mandate, from built-heritage to broadcasting and the arts, a long reach, through the 15 agencies we fund, and a big heart centered on our passionate people. Paul is leading the Ministry to provide more visible leadership, a clearly understood common purpose and culture, and to simplify and clarify strategy then embed it within our work.

As an experienced senior public servant, Paul brings strong skills to his role in strategic policy development, leading and managing change and working effectively with diverse stakeholders.

Prior to joining the Ministry in 2015, Paul was the Deputy Chief Executive, Policy, Regulatory and Ethnic Affairs with the Department of Internal Affairs and from 2006 to 2011, he was Director of the Office of Treaty Settlements. He has also been Policy Manager, Family Law and General Manager, Public Law at the Ministry of Justice. Paul has worked in policy roles at The Treasury, Accident Compensation Corporation and Te Puni Kōkiri.

Paul says his role with the Ministry has led him to a previously unknown and emerging passion for dance, watching not participating.

To contact Paul James please email his Executive Assistant Stephanie Plumer:

Karen Adair

Group Manager Policy and Sector Performance

Karen is Group Manager Policy and Sector Performance and enjoys the challenging complexity and breadth of working across the arts, culture, heritage, media and sport areas. Her focus is on adding value across government and working with the Ministry’s 15 funded agencies for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

With significant experience in strategic policy, regulatory regimes and law reform Karen joined the Ministry in 2016.  Karen has always had a strong interest in policy and enjoys the opportunity to increase the visibility of the Ministry’s policy work and strengthening the links with our funded agencies.

She was formerly with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) where she was Director, Food and Regulatory Policy in the Policy and Trade Branch. Karen worked at MPI, previously the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in various roles since 2005. She has also run her own consulting business undertaking work across government. Prior to this she was with Treasury, including as Manager of the Environment and Natural Resources Team.

On a personal level Karen’s interest sees her as president of the Mount Street Cemetery.

To contact Karen Adair please email her Executive Assistant Sue Sutton:

Heather Baggott

Group Manager Delivery

As Group Manager Delivery Heather leads cross-government programmes and services that care for our nation’s treasures and share stories of significance of our nation’s heritage and identity. This includes the Government’s commemoration programme, for example the World War One Centenary, Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and the online encyclopaedia, biographies and histories of New Zealand which collectively have more than 10 million visitors each year.

Prior to joining the Ministry, Heather was with the Ministry of Justice for 17 years where she ran the administration of New Zealand’s District Court nationwide and was General Manager of the Specialist Courts and Tribunals (which includes Coroners, Māori Land, Environment and Employment Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal). She also led major transformation programmes including a management restructure, centralisation of services, implementing new digital solutions for case managers and customers, and establishing new tribunals.

In the formative time of her career, Heather worked at the Office of Treaty Settlements where for 10 years she led the resolution of historic claims and the restoration of the Crown's relationship with iwi and hapu throughout the country. She currently serves on a senior officials group advising government on Treaty issues, and is also an advisor to the Ngati Maniapoto Treaty settlement negotiation team.

A seasoned public servant, motivated by a service ethic and creating positive legacies for future generations, Heather loves challenge, supporting people to grow, and getting the job done. She is from the King Country and has Ngati Maniapoto and Te Atiawa iwi affiliations.

To contact Heather Baggott please email her Executive Assistant Kristen Davison:

Becky MacNeill

Group Manager Organisational Performance

Becky joined the Ministry in May 2017 to take on the new role of Group Manager Organisational Performance. She is responsible for developing organisational strategy and building a high performance environment across the Ministry and for the agencies we fund.

In her role Becky is responsible for the full suite of corporate services and is charged with building organisational performance and culture to support a successful organisation which connects people in a cohesive way to New Zealand’s culture and heritage.

Becky is experienced in delivering high quality corporate functions, in the context of organisational performance and strategic direction.

Prior to joining the Ministry Becky was with the Ministry for the Environment where she was Director of the People and Culture, Legal and Procurement and was previously the Director of Legal and Procurement. Becky spent several years at the Ministry for Economic Development in the legal team and has experience there acting as a policy manager.

Becky began her career in the Office of the Clerk.

To contact Becky MacNeill please email her Executive Assistant Ella Hall:

Mike Nathan

Pou Ārahi Whakahaere

Mike joined the Ministry in 2018 from Te Tari Taiwhenua (DIA) where he has spent most of his career, first in the Far North as part of Hāpai Hapori (Community Operations Group) then as Director Pou Ārahi in Kāwai ki te Iwi (Service Delivery Branch) and, most recently, as Principle Advisor-Te Aka Taiwhenua in Ngā Tohu Ratonga (Shared Services Branch).

Over the last few years he has led work with others on Te Aka Taiwhenua (DIA’s Māori strategy), the expansion and focus on use in DIA of Te Reo in their “every day mahi” a Māori Staff Leadership Programme – Te Kurutao, and the ongoing care and protection of Te Atamira, a National network of local kaumatua and kuia who work closely with DIA.  Mike previously worked at the Department of Māori Affairs and Department of Social Welfare.

Mike affiliates to Te Rarawa and Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and comes to us with a passion for bringing te reo, tikanga and a Māori world view into the work of the public service.

Mike can be contacted by email at

Updated on 5th April 2018