Dame Karen Sewell DNZM QSO

Dame Karen Sewell has had a career in education and public service that has spanned 50 years, most recently contributing as a consultant in a range of education and governance areas, including serving as a member of ANZSOG (Australia and New Zealand School of Government).

In acknowledgement of her distinguished career in 2012 she became a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order (QSO) for services to the State.  In 2016 she became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for her services to education.

Dame Karen was brought up and educated in Whanganui, New Zealand. She then attended Victoria University of Wellington and Auckland Secondary Teachers’ College before becoming a teacher. Between 1966 and 1996 she taught in Wellington, England and Auckland, where she became a Secondary School PrincipaI. During her teaching career she was the recipient of a teaching fellowship at Victoria University and a Nuffield Bursary at the University of London.

In 1997 Dame Karen joined the Public Service. For seven years she was Chief Executive and Chief Review Officer of the Education Review Office. From this position she was seconded to take on the role of Acting Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority in 2005-2006. In 2006 she was appointed Chief Executive and Secretary for Education at the Ministry of Education. She is the only New Zealander to have held all these three roles in the education sector.