The simple answer is YES.
You can nominate a friend, a relative, a co-worker or a trusted neighbour to manage your property for you. They don't need any prior experience being a property manager. There is no legal requirement to hire a professional property manager.
The section 16A of the Residential Tenancies Act does require to nominate someone to look after your rental if you're away from New Zealand for longer than 21 (consecutive) days.
You will need to notify the tenants about this change to make sure they know who to contact if there is a problem.
You will also need to complete a change of landlord/agent form and submit with (emailed to) the Tenancy Services / Bond Centre. The email address can be found on the form above. The friend will be empowered to act and make decisions on your behalf and sign off on tenancy documents.
The form needs to be submitted even if you're only going away for 21 days, and then filled out again when you're back.