CEO Angela Oosthuizen farewells Kaikōura
This is my final month as the CEO of Kaikōura District Council. Over the last 5 years there have been some big challenges and curveballs, but it’s also been a time of growth and opportunity for the district which I feel privileged to have been a part of.
Before I got the job in Kaikōura, I was the Corporate Services Manager at Buller District for 8 years. After all that number crunching what I really wanted was a role where I could make a difference in the community, and see local government from a much broader perspective, the CEO position was just that. I started in February 2016.
Little did I know then exactly what Kaikōura was to offer me.
My first challenge was to take over the construction of a partly built Civic Building. It was up to me to sort out the building finances and finish the construction. The team moved in on Friday 11 November 2016 just 2 days before the 7.8 quake.
Nothing had prepared us for the quake, and it changed our world for the foreseeable future.
While it was a tough time, I consider myself lucky to have worked alongside the community and with some great people. There are too many to name here, but I would like to mention Winston Gray (Former Mayor) and Danny Smith (Former Recovery Manager and Mayor). Their support was instrumental in the response and recovery phase. We also had generous external help from countless others, particularly Jane Parfitt, Jim Palmer and Bill Bayfield.
Although the earthquake brought challenges, it also helped us move forward in many areas. We managed to secure Crown funding assistance of 95% to rebuild damaged infrastructure, this $38M Council Infrastructure Rebuild project was completed in 2020 on budget and (if not for COVID-19) on time.
We opened South Bay Harbour exactly one year after the quake, enabling our world class eco-tourism operators to resume business. Council secured Provincial Growth Funding of $10.8M to upgrade Wakatu Quay and deliver a feasibility study for further harbour development in South Bay.
Upgrades to the Memorial Hall and the Cuddons Building have been completed, and the Scout Hall will be renovated later this year. The development of the Kaikōura Aquatic Centre is well underway with an anticipated opening of Spring 2021.
We now have a very capable and strong team in Council who are knowledgeable and passionate about our community. I have gone through three staffing restructures – at the peak of the earthquake staff numbers grew to 42 to deal with the vastly increased work-load, we are now down to 32 (the second smallest Council in New Zealand). I am really proud to have led this team and see their achievements!
Some of Council decisions in my time have not always been popular, but we always sought to do the best thing for Kaikōura. I believe that I am leaving Kaikōura, our community and their whanau, and Council in a really good position; with improved Council systems, a good financial position post-quake (our debt is lower than pre quake), renewed infrastructure and community facilities, and a strong leadership team.
As I bid Kaikōura farewell, I am really looking forward to spending quality family time with my 14yr old daughter and my husband. I’ll spend the next year studying and completing my Chartered Accountancy professional registration.
While it has been a big sacrifice living away from my family, I am sad to leave Kaikōura. I have built many close relationships and this time will always be full of special memories for me.
Ka kite Kaikōura,
20 January 2020