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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:

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

Phil Griffiths

Acting Delivery Group Manager

Phil is currently on secondment fron the Crown Law Office as the Director of the Government Legal Network, a whole of government capability and resource building programme aimed at enhancing the quality of government legal advice.  He is a collaborative leader, experienced in operating across government and good at delivering practical steps and results.  Prior to this he worked extensively as a consultant across central and local government and previously as an in-house legal counsel at Auckland City Council and in a private law firm before then.

To contact Phil Griffiths please email his Executive Assistant Jasmin Walles: 

Updated on 6th July 2018