Education Review Office head Iona Holsted has been appointed the new Secretary for Education, replacing Peter Hughes, who left the role to lead the State Services Commission.
Hughes announced Holsted's appointment and said his former job was "a very important role for New Zealand and the public service".
"Ms Holsted has led ERO very effectively since 2014 and, in that role, has made a significant contribution to the leadership of the education sector.
"She is very committed to improving educational outcomes for New Zealand's children and young people, especially for Maori and Pacific learners.
"Ms Holsted has the leadership skills, experience and personal integrity to gain the trust and respect of the education sector and work with them to deliver better educational outcomes."
Holsted started her career as a primary school teacher in Auckland, and later became an advocate and researcher for the Public Service Association (PSA). Between 2007 and 2014 she held four senior management roles at the Ministry of Social Development. She also spent six years as a deputy commissioner at the State Services Commission.
Teachers union NZEI Te Riu Roa congratulated Holsted on her new role.
"This is a challenging time in education, and we look forward to working with Ms Holsted in the interests of all our learners," NZEI president Louise Green said. "New Zealand's young people rely on all of us to work together for a strong public education system that grows equality and nurtures all their potential."