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New Governance Sought For Regional Development Agency

Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki (VT) Board Chair Joanna Breare, and Board Deputy David Downs have announced their intent to stepdown from the Venture Taranaki Trust Board at the agency’s AGM in September 2024.

As a result, the regional development agency’s shareholder, New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), will commence a recruitment process for new board members to replace the outgoing members.

Outgoing Chair Joanna Breare has been involved with the agency as far back as 2010, initially as a member of an offshore energy group led by former VT CEO Stuart Trundle. She later led the Taranaki 2050 project, working closely with the Taranaki community and VT. Joanna joined the VT Board in 2019 and became Board Chair in 2022, succeeding Jamie Tuuta. Joanna brought with her a wealth of executive leadership and governance experience in her role as Todd Energy CE.

Joanna is proud of the Trust's significant achievements during her tenure on the Board and as Board Chair. "It has been a privilege to work with my Board colleagues, the Venture Taranaki team, our stakeholders, and the wider Taranaki community. Through many global and national changes and challenges the team continues to elevate the region through its many strands of work that connect back to our strategic focus areas of Energy Transition, Food and Fibre, and Destination Development," Joanna said.

Board Deputy David Downs who joined the board in 2018, bringing with him a multitude of experience in tech, start-ups, and brand and positioning in his role as NZ Story CE, echoes Breare’s sentiment. "I leave the Board with the knowledge and confidence that the region is in good hands as the team continues to turn obstacles into opportunities, upholds a strategic lens across the region to go after emergent economies, and consistently positions Taranaki is a sought-after destination and the ideal place to live, work, play and invest," Downs said.

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New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom has acknowledged the considerable contribution made by both Breare and Downs. "Both have served the Trust across consecutive terms of service, and their leadership, partnership, and commitment have built a lasting legacy for Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, and the region," Mayor Holdom said.

With both trustees coming to the natural end of their terms with the Trust, a recruitment process is underway to recruit for these vacant board roles via VT’s shareholder, New Plymouth District Council. The Trust looks to continue its long legacy of attracting highly capable governance professionals and executives to support the Trust, and the region for years to come.

Candidates wishing to apply will be able to do so via Seek and Institute of Directors (IoD) as of 18 June. At the September AGM, a new Venture Taranaki Trust Chair and Deputy will be appointed by the Trustees.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki (VT) is a catalyst for future prosperity in Taranaki with strategic focus areas in energy transition, food and fibre, destination development and visitor futures.

Venture Taranaki seeks to inspire and nurture growth, connect communities, empower individuals, and ignite innovation to sustain and stabilise our region through lasting development, investment, and opportunity. VT is a Council-Controlled Organisation (CCO) of the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), governed by an independent Board of Trustees, and guided by Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Venture Taranaki Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, which delivers a range of regional development, promotion and enterprise support services Taranaki-wide, administrates the New Plymouth Major Events Fund, and holds contracts for service with other local government and central government agencies.


Joshua Hitchcock Joshua is of Te Ātiawa and Taranaki Iwi descent and was born and raised in Taranaki. He is the Pou Amotake/General Manager Operations at Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa and alongside his role as Trustee of Venture Taranaki Trust he is also a director of Ka Uruora Aotearoa and Ka Uruora Taranaki. Joshua has a background in law and accounting with a career specialising in Māori development and regional and national economic development. Joshua and his partner live in New Plymouth with their three year old boy and a highly energetic labradoodle and he enjoys relaxing on the golf course or with a good book.

Chris Myers Chris has a range of executive and governance experience across tech, tourism, and energy sectors. Chris is a current member of the Papa Rererangi i Puketapu Ltd (New Plymouth Airport) Board. Chris has a master’s degree in Commerce and Management and extensive tourism experience with 20 years with Air Zealand, including heading up offshore activities across Asia, Europe and the Americas. He was previously New Zealand CEO of JUCY Rentals NZ and Head of Partnerships at Contact Energy. Chris’ current focus is working with emerging businesses around indigenous forest regeneration and biodiversity improvements, carbon management services and SaaS technology enhancement. Chris is a director of Forever Forests Limited and Chair of Wellington based SaaS business Pricetech Limited (trading as Marginfuel).

Roddy Bennett Roddy has recently retired after 25 years at TSB, with the last ten years as Chief Financial Officer. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and Chartered Accountants ANZ and has previous governance experience on the Payments NZ board and various school boards. He is a current Trustee of the Tamariki Pakari Child Health and Wellbeing Trust - a non-profit that works to improve the health and wellbeing of tamariki and rangatahi in Taranaki and Aotearoa through research and informing service development.

Grant McQuoid Grant is an Owner and Director of business advisory firm Velocite, supporting passionate business owners across regional New Zealand. Grant also works with several privately owned businesses as an advisor focused on growth and improved performance. He is an experienced SME board facilitator and advisor, and has significant experience in navigating and advising on governance structures, acquisition opportunities, and mergers. In 2015 Grant was made a Life Member of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce for the contribution he provided to the Governance of the organisation as Chair (2011 to 2015). In 2018, Grant was made a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, recognising his outstanding achievement and contribution to the profession.

Gillian Cagney Gillian Cagney was appointed President of Worley Australia and Aotearoa in July 2020 to deliver Worley's ambition of being recognised as a global leader in sustainability solutions across the region.

Gillian leads a team of more than 4,500 people with responsibility for the financial and operational performance of Worley’s business across Australia and Aotearoa, as well as Mongolia and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

She is passionate about working with a broad range of stakeholders from customers through to government and industry groups to support the region’s transition to a low carbon future and deliver sustainable, resilient infrastructure that improves our shared economic and social well-being, helping achieve gender equality, and raise the profile of women in STEM.

Gillian has global experience working in Ireland, Canada and Australia. and brings a strong network beyond New Zealand to the Trust.

Gillian graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland in 2001. She is a member of Chief Executive Women, the Champions of Change Coalition, and the Australian Climate Leaders Coalition.

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