New Far North District Council CEO, Blair King began work in his new role last week.
“Traditionally, his welcome would include a full pōwhiri with his family, Council staff and guests from partner organisations gathered at Memorial Hall in Kaikohe,” said Mayor, John Carter.
“That was not possible this time due to the high number of Omicron cases we are seeing in our district. Instead, we opted for a significantly pared back welcome with a maximum of 20 guests gathered at our Kaikohe meeting chambers.
“We applied strict COVID-19 protocols, including 2m distancing, mask wearing and takeaway refreshments after the event.”
Mr King was formerly CEO at Tararua District Council for 12 years. At Far North District Council he replaces outgoing chief executive, Shaun Clarke, who departs Council this Thursday (31 March).
“Blair has some big shoes to fill…Shaun Clarke, has transformed Council operations, creating an organisation that others look to,” the Mayor said.
“That is not an idle boast. We have been recognised nationally for our innovations, such as our hybrid working model developed in response to COVID-19 lockdowns – this allows staff to work mostly from home and was recently named the country’s Best Workplace Flexibility Program by the HRD Awards NZ.
“Our strategy to get 100% of our district connected to the digital world, Nothing But Net, won an award at the 2021 Taituarā Society of Local Government Managers Awards, and in February our Paihia Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade won the Excellence in Project Innovation Award from the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia.
“We were one of the first Council’s to join the CouncilMARK local government excellence programme in 2017. This assesses local authority performance across key areas. We increased our rating after our second assessment in 2021. This was largely due to 34 transformation projects that Shaun launched to improve our capability, systems and service delivery, as well as capacity to deliver infrastructure projects. That has paid off.”
“Last financial year, we completed 94% of the district’s capital works programme, a big increase on the roads and footpaths we have been able to deliver historically. We have joined the digital age with around 90% of our services now available online, allowing you to make applications, report faults and pay for services from anywhere with an internet connection.
“Those are just a few accomplishments achieved in the past five years with Shaun at the helm. He has been an inspirational leader at a time of unprecedented challenges, and I want to thank him for helping to make our district a great place to live,” Mayor Carter said.