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New Waikato Regional Council Chief Executive Appointed

Waikato Regional Council has today announced the appointment of Chris McLay as chief executive.

Mr McLay has worked for almost 20 years at the council, holding an executive position in charge of the council’s regulatory responsibilities for the last 17 years.

Council chair Russ Rimmington said there was a field of extremely strong contenders for the role. “But Chris stood out because he has made a very real contribution to making this the successful organisation it is today, and we know he has the ability to step out of his specialty area to become the CE we need at this important time.

“We are excited to promote Chris to the role of chief executive, because he brings a strong understanding of the organisation and the region, and the skills to keep the momentum built over recent years.

“As a current member of the regional council’s executive he has a clear grasp of the challenges facing this organisation, as well as the opportunities to make our region stronger and economically resilient so our communities can enjoy a better quality of life,” Cr Rimmington said.

Mr McLay said he welcomes the opportunity to grow his career in an organisation he believes in.

“I’m proud to work in an organisation that puts working together at the heart of how we do things. With such a great purpose there’s a real opportunity to build a region that’s prepared and well positioned to respond to new challenges and create sustainable and resilient communities.

“We have a talented team at the council delivering their very best for the mighty Waikato, and I look forward to leading and motivating them, keeping them engaged while delivering on the council’s 10-year strategy,” Mr McLay said.

Purposefully high level, the council’s strategy identifies six strategic priorities – water, climate, biodiversity and biosecurity, coastal and marine, sustainable infrastructure, and transport connections.

Recruitment for chief executive began earlier this year, with incumbent Vaughan Payne declining an offer of another five-year contract in July. Mr Payne announced that he had instead made the decision to accept another role as deputy chief executive operations at the newly-formed New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) being set up in Hamilton.

Mr Payne has been with the organisation for 10 years and spent seven as chief executive. Transition arrangements are now being worked through.

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