Wednesday, April 17, 2024

O’Keeffe to chair new Hawke’s Bay’s recovery board

Blair O’Keeffe has been appointed Independent Chair of the newly established Hawke’s Bay Regional Recovery Agency’s (RRA) Oversight Board.

The Co-Chairs of Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay Matariki Governance Group, Leon Symes and Mayor Alex Walker, announced Mr O’Keeffe’s appointment today.

Announced alongside Mr O’Keeffe, who currently chairs Napier Port and the Hawke’s Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust, was the naming of six local directors: John Loughlin, Renata Hakiwai, Wendie Harvey, Caren Rangi, Tania Eden and Billy Brough.

Collectively, the Board brings a broad and deep range of governance experience across infrastructure, primary sector, resource management, iwi, crown and local government, the Co-Chairs said in a statement. 

Together, the Oversight Board will be responsible for overseeing the development of the Regional Recovery Plan, as the RRA develops a framework for a recovery that is locally led, regionally coordinated and government supported.  

Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay District Council and Co-Chair of Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay Matariki Governance Group, Alex Walker says the appointment of the Oversight Board was an important step forward in the transition from immediate response to long-term recovery.

“We know that much of the current, urgent work on core areas of waste management and roading connections are still occupying most of local government’s time and resources,” said Mayor Walker.  

“We need the independent Oversight Board to provide strong leadership on the big strategic needs for recovery, which will require whole-of-region delivery and confidence from central government, local government, iwi and private sectors as investors in our future.” 

Chair of Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa and Co-Chair of Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay Matariki Governance Group, Leon Symes said the Oversight Board would ensure a strong and coordinated approach to the region’s recovery.  

“Establishing the Regional Recovery Agency is critical as its role is to promote building back better, safer and stronger, providing the coordination and assurance required to bring local authorities, government agencies and community groups together to deliver a better future for Hawke’s Bay.”

Ministerial Recovery Lead for Hawke’s Bay, Meka Whaitiri saud the Government supports a regionally-led recovery, and the Chair’s appointment and formation of the Oversight Board was noted by Cabinet.

“It is a strong board, headed up by a Chair with a wide range of experience in commercial, community, local government and Crown entities, which together will support the recovery now and in the future,” Minister Whaitiri said.

Incoming Chair, Blair O’Keeffe says the Board’s appointments were a key milestone for the new agency.

“It is great to have a high calibre, experienced and diverse, skills-based, local board,” he said. 

“Our immediate task is establishing the Agency and supporting the transition from an emergency response to a long-term approach to recovery for our region. 

“Our focus will be working with Iwi, industry, local and central government to create and communicate a clear recovery plan, with tangible outcomes. Work has already started.”  

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