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Former Environ.Bay of Plenty CEO awarded doctorate

Former Environment Bay of Plenty CEO awarded honorary doctorate

Jeff Jones, the former Chief Executive of Environment Bay of Plenty who retired in February after 17 years at the helm, will be awarded an honorary doctorate by Waikato University at a graduation ceremony on Monday 24 April.

The award recognises Jeff’s strong interest in the wellbeing of the University and his outstanding service to the community through his commitment to environmental management.

Over several decades, through his role as Chief Engineer of the Bay of Plenty Region and subsequently as the first CEO of Environment Bay of Plenty, Jeff has overseen the successful establishment of effective environmental management plans and protocols in one of the fastest developing regions in New Zealand.

He has been a strong supporter of the University of Waikato, recognising its value to the Bay of Plenty region. He has encouraged collaboration between Environment Bay of Plenty and the University in areas of shared research interest. Jeff fostered the establishment of the University Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration three years ago, which has been hugely successful in advancing environmental management of the Bay of Plenty Lakes. Environment Bay of Plenty also regularly supports research students through summer employment, with benefit to all concerned.

Since January 2004 the Waikato University School of Science and Engineering has received $12M for research projects in the environmental sciences, an area of extensive teaching and research for the University. Currently over 50 graduate students are undertaking thesis research projects within the environmental sciences, including studies in areas such as the Rotorua Lakes, coastal harbours, Antarctica, and the Pacific Islands as far away as Kiribati.

Jeff Jones
Jeff moved to the Bay of Plenty with his family 23 years ago. He initially worked for the Bay of Plenty Catchment Commission, becoming general manager in 1987. Just after the Edgecumbe earthquake, one of his first tasks as a chief executive was to oversee the restoration of damaged stopbanks and drainage systems.

After an executive search by the transitional committee, Jeff became Environment Bay of Plenty’s first chief executive in 1989. He retired this month (February) after 17 years in charge of region’s key environmental protection agency.

Initially, it was a tough challenge forging 25 disparate groups into a viable organisation with an environmental focus, he says. The introduction of the Resource Management Act in 1991 provided a further challenge, but a welcome one.

“For the first time, we had the chance of achieving real integrated environmental management in the region. We had statutory backing to plan for the sustainable management of the region’s resources rather than just trying to do so by allocation,” said Jeff.

Under Jeff’s guidance, the regional council has fought to protect and restore the natural values of the region’s environment, including the success story of Rotorua’s geothermal resource. He has supported Environment Bay of Plenty initiatives such as Coast Care, which now has 28 groups, and the Environmental Enhancement Fund, which has supported 220 community projects over the past six years.

Jeff was involved in developing the strategy for the Rotorua lakes from the very start to its adoption in 2000 and acknowledges the work of senior manager Paul Dell in putting that strategy into action. Paul was last week announced as a recipient of the University of Waikato Medal for 2006.

In the early 1990s, Jeff was appointed by the Government to be a technical advisor on the Waihou Valley Scheme Committee. At that time, the Waikato scheme was felt to need direction from an engineering and economic point of view. He worked with the committee for seven years.

Over the years, Jeff also developed a strong working relationship with the University Waikato, culminating in Environment Bay of Plenty’s funding of a Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration. “This has allowed us to get usable, focused research to help us deal with our major lake issues. The outcome of such research is also extremely applicable to other lakes in New Zealand,” he said.

Jeff has lived in Whakatane for 23 years, raising a family with his wife, Rosalie. He has a BSc in Mathematics from Victoria University and a BE (Hons) (Civil) from the University of Canterbury. A fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ) from 1994, Jeff was also vice-president of the organisation in 2005 and will this year take up a post as IPENZ Deputy President. He was the Director of the Local Government Industry Trading Organisation from 1996-2005.

ENDS

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