Waikato Regional Council’s new chief executive Vaughan Payne has been formally welcomed to his new role by Ngati Wairere, Ngati Haua and local kaumatua at a powhiri at Kirikiriroa Marae in Hamilton today.
Mr Payne, who grew up in Opotiki, has Ngāi Tai (Tainui waka) and Whakatōhea (Mataatua waka) ancestry on his Māori side, and French, Swiss, English and Scottish ancestry on his Pakeha side.
Accompanied by friends and whanau who had travelled from the Bay of Plenty this morning, Mr Payne was ‘handed over’ to the Waikato region. His supporters spoke of his talent, warmth and modesty.
Mr Payne says he has a very strong focus on adding value for local, regional and national benefit, and describes his new job as an ideal one for him in an organisation whose values closely align with his.
He has extensive resource management experience at a senior level, in both the private and local government sectors. He is committed to working collaboratively with local communities and councils, iwi partners, business groups, regional stakeholders and central government on healthy and prosperous outcomes for the region.
Mr Payne says his joint Māori-Pakeha heritage, and his work experience in both rural and urban communities, will also help him add good value in his new role.
“I believe Māori and Pakeha essentially have the same values but they can place different priorities on those values with, for example, their approach to fresh water management. Different sections of the general community can also have differing views of course.
“That’s what resource management is all about, managing competing value systems. I think my bicultural ancestry and upbringing, plus my work experience, helps me appreciate a wide range of different perspectives, and to find ways of moving forward that create win-win situations.”
Formerly the council’s policy and transport group manager, a key part of Mr Payne’s work in recent months has been a fit for purpose review of the council aimed at ensuring it operates in the most efficient way possible and delivers maximum value to ratepayers and regional stakeholders.
"Whatever the future shape of local government in our region, we need both good regional and local government in Waikato. The fit for purpose review will help us play our part to the maximum.
"I want to see an economically prosperous region that looks after its environment and people well. The regional council is committed to playing a very strong role in delivering on that kaupapa.”
Council chairperson Paula Southgate said past councils – led most recently by Peter Buckley and Bob Laing – had done a great job of laying the foundations for the way the organization will move forward.
“Having Vaughan as our new CEO adds real kaha to our mission. He has a sharp and strategic mind.
“Coupled with that, he works inclusively, has a warm sense of humour and a real sense of compassion for others.”