New Northland Regional Council Chair, Deputy

28 Nov 2023, 3:03 PM

Geoff Crawford has been voted in as the new Chair of the Northland Regional Council and former Chair Tui Shortland becomes his deputy after her resignation today from the leadership role she had held for the past 13 months.

Tui Shortland’s resignation as Chair took effect Tuesday, 28 November and the new Chair was officially sworn in a short time after her resignation took effect.

New Chair Crawford has a background in farming and has been on council since local body elections in October last year.

In another change today, councillors voted to remove Deputy Chair Jack Craw from his role, with Councillor Shortland stepping into the vacant position. (Councillor Craw will remain as the elected representative for Whangārei Central General constituency.)

The change in Chair and Deputy Chair were among a number of portfolio switches across the council’s nine-strong governance structure today, Chair Crawford acknowledging the contributions of the outgoing Chair and Deputy Chair, both of whom he thanked for their service.

Chair Crawford says today’s changes – most of which passed by a margin of five votes to four – are part of the democratic process and he will work with staff to support councillors as they collectively transition into new leadership.

Voting for change were Chair Crawford, Cr Shortland, and councillors John Blackwell, Joe Carr and Peter-Lucas Jones. Against were Crs Craw, Amy Macdonald, Marty Robinson and Rick Stolwerk.

“I acknowledge leadership changes can be an unsettling time for our council as a whole,” Chair Crawford says.

He says Northland has a passionate council that he wants to collectively rally “to inspire collaborative efforts towards a shared and prosperous future for the region”.

“I’ll be working hard to ensure our organisation’s work, partnerships and commitments run as smoothly as possible – from both governance and operational perspectives – as we go through this process.”

Councillor Shortland says she is proud to have served as the first indigenous wahine Chair of the NRC and her dedication to the community, ongoing projects, and plans for the future remained steadfast. She says although her recent time on council had been challenging, today’s changes were “an integral part of our growth and commitment to effective governance”.

Today’s meeting also saw the creation of a new Infrastructure Standing Committee whose membership has yet to be decided.

Councillors also agreed in principle to merge the council’s existing Audit and Risk Sub-Committee and Investment and Property Sub-Committee within three months. (Membership of the new single entity will be reviewed as part of the process.)

Other changes today include:

  • Councillor Shortland (who remains an elected councillor for Te Raki Māori constituency) replacing Cr Robinson (who represents the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa General constituency) as Co-Chair of Te Taitokerau Māori and Council Working Party
  • Councillor Blackwell (who represents the Kaipara General constituency) replacing Cr Macdonald (who represents the Coastal Central General constituency) as NRC’s representative on the Joint Climate Change Adaptation Committee
  • Chair Crawford replacing Cr Craw as NRC’s alternate representative on the Climate Change Adaptation Committee
  • Chair Crawford replacing Cr Stolwerk (who represents the Coastal South General constituency) as the NRC representative on the Northland Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group
  • Councillor Shortland replacing Cr Craw as NRC’s alternate representative on the Northland Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group
  • Chair Crawford replacing Cr Robinson as the NRC representative on the Joint Regional Economic Development Committee
  • Councillor Carr (who represents the Far North General constituency) replacing Cr Craw as a member of the Biosecurity and Biodiversity Working Party
  • Councillor Shortland replacing Cr Macdonald as Chair on the Natural Resources Working Party
  • Councillor Blackwell replacing Cr Robinson as a member of the Natural Resources Working Party.

Councillors also voted to review the current councillor remuneration package with a view to agreeing on an improved remuneration structure and package at the 27 February 2024 council meeting.

Geoff Crawford and Tui Shortland.

New Northland Regional Council Chair Geoff Crawford and his new deputy, former NRC Chair Tui Shortland.