Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
22 Sep 2014


Contact Manager Corporate Communications, Mike Richards,
Tel: 027 222 0290


New GM appointment gives momentum to Aviation Security Service transformation

Aviation Security Service (Avsec) General Manager Mark Wheeler says Karen Urwin, who has recently been appointed Group Manager – Operations, brings a wealth of experience to the service. 

“Karen is a proven operational leader who has managed large, diverse teams in a number of similar organisations.  Her experience managing complex operations and incidents, technical security systems, border intelligence and dog teams will be invaluable to Avsec,” says Mark Wheeler.

Based in Wellington, she will be tasked with ensuring Avsec provides a world-class service at New Zealand’s six security designated airports.  Karen will also be responsible for managing the Explosive Detector Dog programme, and re-establishing Avsec’s intelligence capability.

Mark Wheeler says she was selected from a very strong field of more than 80 candidates.

Karen is currently employed as the National Manager, Border Operations at Immigration New Zealand (IMNZ). In this role she oversees the operation of New Zealand's seven international airports, with her responsibilities including the targeting and profiling of passengers.
Karen manages immigration staff based in the Customs Integrated Targeting and Operations Centre, border technical systems and IMNZ’s contingency planning.

In 2011 she managed IMNZ’s operational planning for the Rugby World Cup.

Prior to this Karen was National Manager, Systems and Security at the Department of Corrections where she oversaw daily operations at 20 prisons and gave specialist security systems advice.

Karen will take up her position on 20 October. For a high resolution photo of Karen Urwin, contact Mike Eng :


How the civil aviation system works in New Zealand (PDF)