New council CEO says “iwi partnership is key”

Western Bay of Plenty new CEO John Holyoake. Photo. Supplied.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council’s new chief executive officer officially starts his new role today.

John Holyoake was welcomed with a pōwhiri at the council’s chambers this morning.

He takes over from Miriam Taris, who had held the role since 2014, in light of her retirement.

He joins the WBOPDC from his role as chief executive at Tamaki Regeneration Company - the largest urban regeneration project in New Zealand.

Kaumatua and leaders of iwi from Tauranga Moana and Te Arawa as well as Ruapotaka Marae in Auckland joined elected members, Holyoake’s family, friends and staff from both organisations – close to 100 people – to participate in the pōwhiri, a welcome ceremony conducted in accordance with Māori protocols.

Speaking to those gathered at the pōwhiri to welcome him into his new role, John spoke of the lessons he has learned during his time with TRC and how he will aim to incorporate them into his new position.

In particular, he acknowledges the need to work with local iwi and Maori representatives, many of whom were present.

“I’m excited,” he says.

“Very excited. I truly believe that partnership with Māori is the true way forward and I look forward to working with you,” he says, in relation to a challenge to look after Māori in the community which was presented in the opening korero.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Gary Webber highlights what a pōwhiri means to modern New Zealand, describing it as a way of weaving people together.

“Today is the beginning of your process of weaving your skills into the rich fabric of our council and hopefully take it to the next stage,” he says, addressing John.

The Mayor also thanked the former CEO for her contributions to the Council and hopes John can lead with “empathy, professionalism and, on occasions, some levity.”

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