Ruth Harley has stepped down as chief executive of the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) to take the same role at the new super agency in the neighbouring and much bigger country of Australia.

She will be on deck at Screen Australia from November 15, taking the reins from Lyn Maddock, who has been in an acting role since the doors opened on July 1.

Screen Australia has responsibility for nearly all the Federal Government's direct support of feature films, adult and children's television drama, and documentary. This includes production investment and development support, which was previously split between Film Finance Corporation Australia (FFC) and the Australian Film Commision. They and documentary agency Film Australia have been folded into Screen Australia.

The NZFC handled film investment and production but not television, although Harley was previously executive director of New Zealand On Air, which substantially funds television in a market that has no local content rules.

New Zealand's film industry is generally regarded as being on the rise but it is difficult to accurately split out the NZFC's role in this from the rise of Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings).

Former FFC head Brian Rosen was a frontrunner for the job but it was a significant hurdle that the government wanted to send a clear message that Screen Australia begins a new era.