Board Chair

Heamana Poari


The board must always have a chair. The principal, or staff or student representative cannot be chair. If more than one person wishes to stand for the position of chair the board holds an election to appoint its chair.

When does the board have to appoint a chair?

  • at the board’s first meeting in any year except an election year
  • at the first meeting after the triennial election
  • if the board has passed a vote of no confidence in the chair
  • if the chair ceases to be a trustee or has resigned as chair in writing to the board

What’s involved in being chair?

The chair’s key tasks are to lead the board, make sure the board works as a team and the work of the board is done. The chair needs to develop an effective and professional working relationship with the principal, and they are responsible for setting agendas and chairing meetings. They are the public face of the board, but cannot work independently of the board unless delegated to do so. Ideal qualities / characteristics in a chair include honesty, integrity, empathy, the ability to relate well to people, and a chair needs to be organised.

A measure of courage is also recommended!

Who runs the process to appoint a chair?

The following people can all run the process to appoint a chair:

  • the board secretary or minute taker
  • any trustee not standing to be chair

Process to appoint a chair

The person running the process to appoint a chair calls for nominations. If there is only one nomination they declare that person elected unopposed.

If there is more than one person interested in the role, each can be asked to speak about what they would offer in terms of skills and experience. Using a secret voting process is advisable, especially if there are tensions.

If there are equal votes (a “tie”) for two candidates, there is usually a second vote. If there is still a tie on the 3rd vote, then the tie can be broken by “lot”. The most common option is to toss a coin.

NZSTA support for chairs

There are many resources on NZSTA website and NZSTA Knowledge Hub and NZSTA workshops offered include Leading an effective board and Effective meetings. NZSTA Advisory and Support Centre is available by telephone and email, and one-on-one new chair mentoring and regional adviser support for chairs can also be arranged if needed.

More information


For further information ring the Governance Advisory and Support Centre on 0800 782 435 (option 1)

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