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Two new bosses for Wellington Civil Defence

12 October 2017

Two new bosses for Wellington Civil Defence

Two former military men have been chosen to lead Wellington’s Civil Defence organisation, WREMO (Wellington Region Emergency Management Office), replacing Bruce Pepperell who is retiring after running the organisation for six years.

Jeremy Holmes is the new Regional Manager, while David Russell becomes the new Group Controller.

Greater Wellington Regional Council administers WREMO for the nine councils in the region. Its Chief Executive, Greg Campbell, says both Jeremy and David have very strong leadership and operational planning skills.

“Leadership is about creating an environment that encourages people to succeed and then motivating them to deliver in the environment that has been created. Both of these men display those skills and I’m confident they’re going to take Wellington’s emergency management and preparedness to the next level.”

Jeremy Holmes spent 20 years in Defence, four years in the Fire Service and a year in Police. During this time he spent two and a half years helping rebuild Christchurch after the 2011 earthquakes and worked closely with members of the Canterbury CDEM community on a number of projects including the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.

“I think we were very fortunate that last November’s earthquake occurred when it did. If it had occurred at 12.02pm - during business hours - it would have been a very different story for the region. The event was a timely reminder that we still have a long way to go to be truly resilient. I am very much looking forward to working with others in the region to improve our level of preparedness in this area.”

David comes to WREMO after 38 years in Defence, during which time he held various operational, training and human resource appointments at the tactical, operational and strategic level. His last appointment in the NZDF was that of security policy advisor during New Zealand’s term on the United Nations Security Council in New York. Since January he has been working at WREMO on the Wellington Region Earthquake Plan, during which time he gained a good insight into the workings of WREMO, its staff and its partner agencies.

“I’ve been really impressed with the WREMO staff’s ability to connect with the community. We put a lot of emphasis on building community resilience and putting in tools to empower people to take their own responsibility for their situation. Both Jeremy and I are looking forward to building on the great work Bruce Pepperell and his staff have done.”

Bruce Pepperell, who in October last year advised he would retire in 2017, used to be both the regional manager and controller. He says last November’s earthquake, and its aftermath, proved there was too much work for one person at the top.

“In fairness, in November it was quite difficult running a very big, complex, operation and then in the wee hours of the morning you’d be running the organisation. It was quite hard to do both.”

Having been through his fair share of earthquakes, floods and storms, you’d think Bruce Pepperell would be glad to be retiring. But he’s not giving it away entirely.

“I won’t miss getting hauled out of my bed at two minutes pass midnight or all the other times. But I’m remaining as an alternate controller. I’m not indispensable, it’s not about one person, it’s about the team. So the team will keep trucking on. It’s got a good future.”


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