Published : 17 December 2019

Deputy State Services Commissioner Helene Quilter has today announced the appointment of Mr Mark Sowden to the position of Government Statistician and Chief Executive, Statistics New Zealand.

The Government Statistician leads Statistics New Zealand, the country’s primary data and statistics agency and is the Government’s principal advisor on statistical matters. 

“I am very pleased to announce Mr Sowden’s appointment to this role. He is a respected Public Service leader who has worked effectively across government, iwi and non-government organisations. His ability to unify people around common goals and improve systems has been central to his career successes to date,” Ms Quilter says.

Mr Sowden is currently the Deputy Chief Executive of the Housing and Urban Settings group at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. He has played a critical role in developing a collaborative, cross-government strategy to tackle homelessness – one of New Zealand’s most challenging social issues. 

Prior to this role, Mr Sowden held two senior positions at Statistics New Zealand. From November 2015 to February 2017 he was the Deputy Government Statistician and Chief Executive Customer Strategy and Delivery, leading a group of approximately 380 staff across multiple locations. 

From February 2017 to June 2019 he was the Deputy Chief Executive Data System Leadership and was responsible for designing, establishing and running the Government Chief Data Steward role. He also led the development of the Measuring New Zealand’s Progress wellbeing indicators across multiple agencies.  

Between 2004 and 2015, Mr Sowden held senior organisational performance, operations and policy roles at the Ministry for the Environment and Treasury. He holds a Master of Commerce from Canterbury University.   

“Mr Sowden is thoughtful, strategic and people-focused with a highly collaborative leadership style,” Ms Quilter says.

“He has a strong understanding of statistical and organisational systems and a clear and coherent vision for, and commitment to, stewarding and evolving Statistics New Zealand.     

“Data and statistics provide both government and the community with increasingly significant insights into New Zealand society and play a crucial role in the development of evidence-based policy that can help us solve complex problems.

“Mr Sowden’s combination of experience and skills mean he is well-positioned to support Statistics New Zealand to lead the delivery and design of the next Census - and to set a clear direction for the agency and the wider state sector to realise the full potential of data,” Ms Quilter says.  

Mr Sowden has been appointed for five years from 21 January 2020. Until then, Dr Kelvin Watson, who is currently Deputy Chief Executive, Data and Digital Services at Statistics New Zealand, will be the Acting Chief Executive.



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