Former Army Chief to lead Pike re-entry

Former Army Chief Major General Dave Gawn has been announced as chief executive of a new government agency dedicated to re-entering Pike River Mine to recover bodies and evidence.

Major General Gawn has spent 40 years in the military, and has just finished as Head of Mission and Chief of Staff in Israel for a UN peacekeeping mission.

He was Chief of Army for two years between 2013 and 2015, and spent time in Afghanistan before that when he held the role of Joint Forces Commander from 2011 to 2013.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes says Major General Gawn is a highly respected military man and an innovative leader with strong stakeholder management skills.

"This is a very important role for New Zealand, the Public Service and in particular the Pike River families who will be front and centre of the new agency's decisions and actions," Mr Hughes says.

"He has extensive experience managing and mitigating risk, including while operating in hazardous environments, and he has an engaging leadership style and is a skilled communicator."

The announcement comes after former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe was appointed as an independent advisor to Pike River Re-Entry Minister Andrew Little.

Major General Gawn will start at the Pike River Re-Entry Agency on 31 January 2018, and his contract is set down for two years.