Assistant Chief of Defence was already in charge when COVID-19 pair left quarantine

Newshub has learned Air Commodore Darryn 'Digby' Webb, who was recently appointed to manage the border, isn't so new after all.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Webb would take charge of protecting New Zealand's borders on Tuesday.

However, he has actually been "responsible" for a while. A spokesman confirming, he "started four weeks ago". 

Therefore Webb was already in charge when the two women with COVID-19 were allowed to leave quarantine under a compassionate exemption.

Newshub requested an interview with Webb on Thursday, but he was unavailable.

Webb is now the "senior responsible officer for isolation, quarantine and repatriation" for the "all of Government response", the department in charge of fighting COVID-19.

He has been in the Air Force for nearly 30 years including helping with the Boxing Day tsunami as an Air Force pilot, and later became Flight Commander of the entire fleet.

He is currently Assistant Chief of Defence and says he's "passionate about leading and developing high performing teams within a military environment".

He has lots of experience coordinating rescue efforts across the Pacific, but his latest job- another rescue mission- is saving the Government's reputation.