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Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust Appoint New General Manager

The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust has appointed a new general manager who will lead the Trust in exploring commercial opportunities, developing and strengthening partnerships, and building the national and international profile of Waitaki Whitestone UNESCO Global Geopark.

Lynley Browne, who was brought up in Christchurch and has strong connections to the Otago region, says it is a privilege to be appointed to the role and she is looking forward to contributing her skills and experience.

Lynley Browne, Geopark Manager (L) and Sasha Morriss, Geopark Educator (R) taken at the limestone dykes on Chelmer Street, Oamaru (Photo supplied)

Lynley’s background includes holding senior management and consultancy roles within universities in New Zealand, with Plant & Food Research, and with many entities within the agriculture, horticulture and science sectors. She has also been involved in international collaborations and Government Missions and contributed her expertise to a multi-year New Zealand Aid Project in Vietnam prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lynley takes up the new role following the appointment of Rachel Plieger, who has recently returned to her hometown Oamaru from the United Kingdom, as Chair of the Geopark Trust. Rachel comments that it is an exciting time for the Trust, which is focused on exploring its role as kaitiaki of the Geopark and achieving some ambitious conservation and economic goals.

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‘We’re very pleased to have Lynley joining this mahi,” says Rachel.

“Confirmation of our UNESCO accreditation in 2023 provides a platform for us to build on the opportunities that exist to serve our local communities, support our landowners, elevate our Geopark in a global context and share our stories with the world.

New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO Secretary General, Vicki Soanes, says the National Commission is delighted to welcome Lynley to the Geopark whānau. “When the National Commission established the UNESCO Geopark programme in New Zealand, it recognised the importance of consistent strong leadership, and I am delighted that this will continue with Lynley’s appointment.”

Lynley was officially welcomed to her new role on the Moeraki Marae in mid-March and says it was a proud and special moment for her.

“This role is unique. It brings together my passion for the environment, sustainable tourism and economic development, and my commitment to partnering with others to achieve goals in this area. Our partnership with Te Rūnanga o Moeraki as Mana Whenua is essential, and we continue to build relationships with owners and farmers, wine and food producers, universities here and abroad, those involved in the tourism sector, conservation agencies, our dedicated volunteer community, and many others.

“It is an incredible opportunity to be able to build on the outstanding work done by so many over the years to get the Geopark to the position it is in today,” says Lynley.

Lynley has been living and working in Auckland for many years but says she leapt at the chance to return to the South Island.

“Growing up in Christchurch, we had many family holidays in Otago and further south, and I have always felt a strong connection to this part of the world. I am really enjoying being in Oamaru and exploring the diverse Waitaki region and have found the local community to be very friendly and welcoming.”

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says the importance of the Geopark to the Waitaki region can’t be underestimated.

“It is central to our efforts to boost tourism and become a community that is committed to sustainable tourism, as well as the Geopark helping to tell our stories to locals and visitors alike. I’m excited to see the Geopark Trust setting big goals for the future and will do all I can to support the Trust and assist with the fundraising to achieve those goals.”

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