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Two new directors for GDC

GISBORNE District Council’s two new directors recognise their big challenge as managing future growth while preserving the essential character of the Gisborne region.

Both say they see challenges ahead but are enthusiastic about the region's potential.

Keita Kohere is in charge of all strategy, planning, policy, civil defence, communication and engagement, while Nick Zaman is director of environmental services and protection.

Although Auckland-born, Keita Kohere is Ngati Porou by affiliation. Her father Rarawa is the Gisborne council’s “most easterly ratepayer” at East Cape and the chance to work with iwi was one of the motivations that brought her here.

“It is time for our generation to come back and contribute,” she said.

As well as working for the Auckland council she spent time in private consultancy and worked for the Franklin council, the rural area of the Auckland council.

Nick Zaman is Jamaican by birth but grew up in Kent, in the United Kingdom. A graduate of the University of London, he started work in fisheries research, working on fish stocks in the North Sea. His background is strongly science-based and he wants that to be a large part of good decision making, managing compliance and meeting the demands of the Resource Management Act.

He has been in New Zealand for 18 years, working previously with the Ministry for the Environment and in the minister’s office as well as private consulting. Before coming to Gisborne he was regulatory compliance manager for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Keen outdoorsmanA keen outdoorsman, his first local experience was windsurfing on the East Coast. His wife and two children will join him here for Christmas.

People asked him why he would move to a remote region like this but he said it had everything anyone could want — great people, great culture, and great beaches.

Keita Kohere said it was anecdotal but she saw signs of growth in the Gisborne district for both population and the economy in general. There were even minor traffic jams now experienced, although much smaller than in Auckland.

Managing that growth and ensuring it did not get out of control was a key challenge.

“We have to think how the region is going to look five to 10 years into the future,” she said.

The unitary district plan is now 30 years old and she believes it is no longer fit for purpose. A full plan review will be key to transforming the region.

She believes that iwi have a huge part to play in the development of the region, both economically and culturally.

Nick Zaman said the region faced challenges like failing infrastructure and environmental concerns that were common to many rural parts of New Zealand. Sustainably managing fresh and coastal water, and improving water quality, was an area where a lot needed to be done.

It was not just about thinking short-term but thinking sustainably about development over time, he said.

His philosophy was to educate the public so that they were on board with decisions made and aware of the reasons for compliance.

That was based on the four E's — engagement, education, enoblement and enforcement. It was very much about how you could work with people.

Government reforms were placing more and more responsibilities and demands on local authorities, they were being asked to do a lot more than they had in the past.

New Gisborne District Council department managers, now known as directors, Keita Kohere and Nick Zaman are enthusiastic about the potential for the Gisborne district. Picture by Liam Clayton