Beginning May 2, New Zealand's minister of defense will be Mark Mitchell, a former farmer, policeman and private security contractor. Mitchell replaces Gerry Brownlee, who will be the new foreign affairs minister.

Mitchell has experience in hostage negotiations in Afghanistan, Darfur and Somalia. He was born at the Royal New Zealand Air Force base at Whenuapai in Auckland in May 1968 and was elected to Parliament in 2011.

In December, he was promoted to be a minister outside Cabinet and chaired the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. In his new role, he will rank as 20th in the 20-person Cabinet.