Dame Patsy Reddy and Rowena Davenport appointed to the New Zealand Rugby Board

Former Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy and respected rugby administrator Rowena Davenport have been appointed to the New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Board.

Dame Patsy brings extensive skills to the NZR Board following a career as a lawyer, director, and crown negotiator before serving as New Zealand’s Governor General from 2016 to 2021. Made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to the arts and business and a Grand Companion of the Order (GNZM) in 2016 for services to the nation, her CV includes numerous high-profile governance and consulting roles in both the private and public sectors.

Davenport, who is the Chief Executive of Dunedin-based law firm Gallaway Cook Allan, recently finished her term as Chair of the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU), completing nearly a decade of service to the union’s Board.

Dame Patsy said: “It’s an exciting time to be joining the NZR Board, with the Rugby World Cup in Aotearoa later this year. I am sure this tournament will inspire a new generation of women and girls to play rugby. I look forward to contributing to a sport that has unified and enthralled New Zealanders from all walks of life for over 150 years.”

Davenport said: “It has been an honour to serve Otago rugby and I’m looking forward to bringing that experience to the NZR Board table. I believe there are huge opportunities ahead for rugby and the Rugby World Cup, on home soil in 2022, is a prime example of that opportunity.”

Davenport was nominated by ORFU and selected by the Appointments and Remuneration Committee (ARC) after Jennifer Kerr chose not to seek re-appointment to the NZR Board. Dame Patsy was also appointed by the ARC and replaces former NZR Chair Brent Impey, who was not eligible for reappointment after serving four terms on the Board.

NZR Board Chair Stewart Mitchell said:

“Rowena has been a leading figure in Otago rugby administration for nearly a decade and I am thrilled she has decided to bring her considerable knowledge and strategic skills to New Zealand Rugby. Dame Patsy is a special New Zealander, and we are fortunate she has chosen to add her knowledge, guidance and wisdom to rugby.”

The duo joins New Zealand Māori Board Chair Farah Palmer on an increasingly diverse Board, but Mitchell acknowledged the organisation still had work to do around gender diversity in rugby governance.

“It is an area we are committed to, and the introduction of women like Rowena and Dame Patsy will only strengthen and enhance the administration and governance of our game. Their influence could not come at a better time as we head into a massive year for women’s rugby.”

Board Member Bios

Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy

Former Governor-General The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy has had extensive experience in governance and consulting roles in both the private and public sector. Dame Patsy has served as a non-executive director of Telecom Corporation, Sky City Entertainment Group, Air New Zealand, New Zealand Post and Payments NZ Ltd. She also served as Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission, Deputy Chair of New Zealand Transport Agency, and Chair of Education Payroll Ltd. Her extensive CV includes major consulting roles as Independent Reviewer of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand and Independent Facilitator of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity among others and she was a Chief Crown Negotiator for Treaty Settlements.  Dame Patsy has also had significant involvement in governance of creative and charitable organisations, including as Trustee of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, the Victoria University Foundation, the Victoria University Art Collection Trust, the Spark Art Trust, the Wellington Jazz Festival Trust, and Sky City Community Trust.  She was a founding Trustee and advisory board member for New Zealand Global Women and has chaired the Board of the New Zealand Film Archive. She is currently a Trustee of the NZ Symphony Orchestra Foundation and the Aspen Institute New Zealand. In 2014 she became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts and business, and was made a Grand Companion of the Order and received the Queens Service Order (QSO) in 2016. Educated at Victoria University of Wellington with an LLM (First Class Honours).  

Rowena Davenport

Rowena Davenport joined Gallaway Cook Allan in 2021 as Chief Executive to provide leadership and support to the firm and its partners. Rowena’s background is in finance and strategy, prior to joining Gallaway Cook Allan she was part of the Executive Team at MTF Finance, with responsibilities that included funding, risk management, and leading strategy development and execution. Her ability to think strategically, with a focus on people and culture, saw her get involved in governance, joining the Board of the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) in 2014. In 2019 she was appointed Chair of the ORFU Board, the first female Chair of a major Provincial Rugby Union in New Zealand. Rowena has also served as a member of the New Zealand Secondary School Rugby Strategic Advisory Group and interned on the Board of Dunedin City Holdings Limited in 2018. In recognition of her role and contribution to rugby governance, on International Women’s Day earlier this year, she was awarded a World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship. Rowena believes that a high performing organisation comes from having a clear strategy, with effective leadership that supports collaboration, and is focussed on delivering value to the organisation and its stakeholders.