By DAVID HILL
Angela Oosthuizen was farewelled last week after her five-year tenure as Kaikoura District Council chief executive.
In her role, she oversaw the construction of a civic building, earthquake recovery, and the local challenges of Covid-19.
“Over the last five years there have been some big challenges and curveballs, but it’s also been a time of growth and opportunity for the district, which I feel privileged to have been a part of,” she said.
Her first challenge, in 2016, was to oversee construction of a partly built civic building.
Council staff moved in on Friday, November 11, 2016, just three days before the 7.8-magnitude quake.
“Nothing had prepared us for the quake, and it changed our world for the foreseeable future,” she said.
“While it was a tough time, I consider myself lucky to have worked alongside the community and with some great people. There are too many to name, but I would like to mention Winston Gray (former mayor) and Danny Smith (former recovery manager and mayor).
“Their support was instrumental in the response and recovery phase. We also had generous external help from countless others, particularly Jane Parfitt (Christchurch City Council), Jim Palmer (Waimakariri District Council and Bill Bayfield (Environment Canterbury).”
Mrs Oosthuizen oversaw a $38 million infrastructure rebuild, completed last year on budget and delayed only by Covid-19.
Opening the South Bay Harbour one year after the quake was a particular highlight, as was securing Provincial Growth Funding of $10.8 million to upgrade Wakatu Quay and deliver a feasibility study for further harbour development in South Bay.
Upgrades to the Kaikoura Memorial Hall and the Cuddons Building have been completed, while the Kaikoura Scout Hall will be renovated later this year and the Kaikoura Aquatic Centre is expected to open in the spring.
At the peak of the earthquake recovery, staff numbers swelled to 42, but are now back down to 32, making it the second smallest council in New Zealand.
“I am really proud to have led this team and seen their achievements.
“Some council decisions in my time have not always been popular,” she said, “but we always sought to do the best thing for Kaikoura.
“I believe that I am leaving Kaikoura, our community and their whanau, and the council in a really good position, with improved council systems, a good financial position post-quake (our debt is lower than pre-quake), renewed infrastructure and community facilities, and a strong leadership team.”