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Published: 2013-06-04 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council policy and transport group manager Vaughan Payne has been appointed the council’s new chief executive, chairman Peter Buckley announced today.

Mr Payne (46) has been in his current group manager role for the past three years. He will step into the top job when current chief executive Bob Laing’s contract ends.

Mr Payne has worked in both the private and public sectors. Prior to joining the regional council, he was chief executive of Opotiki District Council and worked for consultants Boffa Miskell and BECA. He holds tertiary qualifications in surveying, planning and business and is from the Whakatohea and Ngai Tai iwi.

Mr Buckley said the council had received 26 applications from a strong field of candidates from around New Zealand and overseas.

“Vaughan has the right skills to lead the regional council in changing times and steer several major regional projects through to their successful conclusion.

“He impressed the council with his vision of leadership and also clearly demonstrated his understanding of the role of the regional council in making the Waikato the very best it can be.”

Mr Buckley said Mr Payne would continue to advance the major projects that Mr Laing had championed, including regional economic development, coastal and marine planning and freshwater quality.

Mr Payne said he was excited to be given the opportunity to influence the regional council and its contribution to economic development and environmental enhancement in the Waikato.

“I strongly believe in what the regional council is looking to achieve and I’m driven to make a positive difference locally, regionally and nationally,” he said.

“However, I recognise I can’t be successful on my own , nor can any organisation be successful on its own, so I would want collaboration and cooperation to be a hallmark of the way I work within my own organisation, within our regional networks and nationally.

“I’m lucky to inherit the strong organisational disciplines Bob Laing initiated, particularly in the areas of financial, risk and project management.”

Mr Payne said his work priorities would be determined by the community through the elected council.

“Having said that, there are a set of regional strategic priorities that can’t be ignored.”

These include supporting economic growth while protecting the environment, making the most of Auckland’s growth while managing its potential negative impacts, keeping small communities viable in the face of ageing and declining rural populations, recognising the increasing economic influence of iwi, and figuring out how to provide more and better services at less cost.

“There will be many more issues to add to that list and I’m looking forward to meeting with my colleagues, stakeholders and communities to continue discussions about what’s important to them.”

Mr Buckley paid tribute to departing chief executive Mr Laing for his contribution to the regional council over the past five years. Mr Laing told staff last month that he would be returning to Australia when his contract ended.