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New man in the CEO chair

July 23, 2019 July2019 No Comments

Harry Wilson, the new CEO of SWDC is connected to the area already by a curious coincidence.  Earlier in his career, when he worked at the Department of Social Welfare, his boss there was Griff Page.   Some years later Griff himself became Chief Executive of SWCD (retiring in 2009).  Now Harry is sitting in the same seat.

           Harry comes with a broad range of experience.  He’s been at the coalface of social issues, working at IHC in his home town of Whanganui and in the public sector in the Child Protection Policy area of what is now CYFS.  

He gained his environmental credentials at Waikato Regional Council where water quality and land use were a key focus of his work.   He’s particularly proud of work he did on Lake Taupo although the benefits won’t be apparent for many years.    A move to the NZ Transport Agency saw him involved in transportation, roading and associated infrastructure.   He has also worked closely with iwi, in particular Tainui on settlement issues.

One of the key priorities in his new job will be working with the other Wairarapa Councils to maximise the benefits they can achieve from closer co-operation.  He also sees the relationship with the Regional Council as critical. “They have the scientists and other experts that we don’t and we should take advantage of this.”  Last but not least he believes that infrastructure is a vital element in the future prosperity of the region.

The other element in the equation is of course the community:  their aspirations and concerns.  He recognises the challenges of being in a role where he’s not going to please everyone but understands that it is important to genuinely become part of the community.   “Don’t be shy”, he says (perhaps bravely)  “Of course I want to know what’s not working but it’s also important hear what people like too.”  Recognising the challenges that his staff face working within a small community he added,  “It would nice for them to get positive feedback sometimes too.”

So how does Harry relax after a hard day at the office?  For him it’s music.  He’s an accomplished guitarist, having played in a band for five years in earlier times.   Now he just enjoys making music for himself.

Harry loves rural New Zealand and has credentials to prove it; a shearing certificate and experience as a shepherd.   There’s also a fishing rod in his new office, waiting to give the local trout a fright.  But for now he’s just exploring the region every weekend, getting a feel for the land, the history and the people of his new home. 

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