Twelve candidates will compete for the three vacant shareholder elected positions on the board of directors of New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra.

Nominations closed at noon on Friday 21 March, with candidate nominations then verified.

Returning officers Carolyn Mason and Mike Linnegar say the number to contest the director election is the most since the formation of Fonterra, with eight vying for the three vacant positions last year.

Each year three directors must retire by rotation. They can seek re-election.

The candidates are:

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Colin Holmes, Murupara
Harry Bayliss, Manaia
Stuart Nattrass, Christchurch
Richard Booth, Whangarei
John Wilson, Te Awamutu
Les Keeper, Queenstown
Hilary Webber, Cambridge
Graeme Edwards, Leigh
Kingi Smiler, Wellington
Marise James, Inglewood
Malcolm Bailey, Feilding
Maurice Hardie, Papamoa

Voting closes at noon on 23 May, with results being announced by 26 May.