Joining a board

Last updated: Thursday, 31 August 2023 | Rāpare, 31 Hereturikōkā, 2023

Directors/trustees can be elected or appointed.

If you want to be elected to a board, you need to make sure you fully understand the election timing and process and put yourself up for election.

Where directors/trustees are appointed, the board and management assess the skills and background that they would like a new member to bring to their board table. See the recruiting directors/trustees section for detail. They then search for the names of people who fit and discuss who they will approach.

There are several databases of potential directors/trustees in New Zealand and you can put yourself forward to be on these databases.

If you are asked

The first thing to do when you are invited to join a board is to take a thorough look at the organisation and the board before you accept the appointment. This process is called due diligence.

Things to look for include:

  • What is the current state of the organisation?
  • What is its financial position?
  • How well-managed is the organisation?
  • Does management give accurate and up-to-date reports to the board?
  • Can you see any looming problems — and do you feel you can influence the outcome?
  • Will you feel comfortable working with the chair and other directors/trustees?
  • Do you have conflicts of interest that will stop you being an effective board member?

Also essential is:

  • Reading the annual reports
  • Making sure, if you are about to accept an appointment with a company under the Companies Act, that all directors have Directors and Officers Liability Insurance
  • Knowing how much time the commitment will be and that you can give the time

The New Zealand Institute of Directors of New Zealand estimates that a board member needs two hours preparation time for every hour in a board meeting.


Once you have been appointed to a board, you should be given a good introduction to the organisation and board process.

Induction should cover areas like the environment the organisation operates in, the purpose and vision of the organisation, the organisation's staffing and structure, board processes etc.

You should also be supported to get director's/trustee's training.