Sunday Star-Times editor Cate Brett has resigned to take up a role with the Law Commission.
Ms Brett has been hired as a senior policy and media adviser to assist the commission on a range of projects including the review of aspects of New Zealand privacy law and the review of the regulatory framework for the sale and supply of liquor.
She takes up the post in November after working out a three month notice period with the Sunday Star-Times.
A former editor of The Weekend Press in Christchurch and deputy editor of The Press, Ms Brett was appointed editor of the Sunday paper in 2003.
She is the only woman editor of a metropolitan newspaper in an industry where women now dominate the reporting ranks but few make it through to management level.
Fairfax Media chief executive officer Joan Withers said Ms Brett had been an outstanding leader for the Sunday Star-Times at a time of intense competition and left the paper with the company's best wishes.
"She achieved much during her editorship and her recent refresh of the newspaper is now paying dividends in terms of readership growth," she said in a statement.
The paper's editor job will be advertised and applications will be sought from both Fairfax and beyond.
Law Commission president Sir Geoffrey Palmer said the commission was increasingly asked to tackle projects which required a multi-disciplinary approach and he was delighted to have someone with Ms Brett's skill set on the staff.
"We have a trio of projects that require the skills that Cate Brett has – the review of privacy law, the review of name suppression law and the sale of liquor project. This involves extensive community consultation."
He said Ms Brett's 20 year journalism experience combined with her understanding of media law would provide the commission with a vital new dimension.
Ms Brett, who has a long-standing interest in media law, is currently researching the impact of new media on free speech, including suppression and contempt of court.