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New chief... Jim Harland is enjoying his new role as Waimakariri District Council chief executive.

By DAVID HILL

Jim Harland has enjoyed a long and varied career before taking on his latest challenge.

The new Waimakariri District Council chief executive stepped into Jim Palmer’s shoes on March 31 after a career in local government, tourism, the private sector, and more recently as the New Zealand Transport Agency’s South Island relationships director for 10 years.

Mr Harland comes from a rural and urban background. He was born in Wairoa and spent holidays on the family farm on the North Island’s east coast. He moved to New York when he was 10, living 30km north of Manhattan.

His family later moved to Christchurch, where Mr Harland completed his schooling at Christchurch Boys’ High School. He then studied geography and town planning at university.

After working in tourism and the private sector, Mr Harland returned to university to complete a masters degree in planning.

He worked for the North Shore City Council as its director of strategy and policy, and then director of policy and planning, before joining the Dunedin City Council in 2000 as chief executive.

After 11 years in Dunedin, Mr Harland joined the transport agency in a role that allowed him to establish relationships with councils throughout the South Island, including Waimakariri.

“Because (NZTA) co-invests 52 percent into local roads, we have strong relationships with councils, and I sat on the regional transport committees.

“In terms of councils in the South Island, I’ve worked with all of them and I can say there’s a very committed workforce and a real commitment to focus on what’s good for the customer.”

Mr Harland was particularly impressed with the culture at the Waimakariri District Council and the strength of its relationship with Ngai Tuahuriri.

“The councillors have all got a role with portfolios and they rotate the committee chair roles, so they’re all engaged and there seems to be good respect between the councillors.”

His new role affords plenty of challenges, with the projected population growth in the Greater Christchurch area, an ageing population in Waimakariri, and the impacts of climate change.

“Work is being done with our partners and there’s greater pressure to avoid natural hazards in the face of climate change and the need to reduce our carbon footprint,” he says.

Part of the solution is more effective public transport, safer options for cycling and walking, and denser suburbs, he says.

“We have been working closely with Environment Canterbury and the Christchurch and Selwyn councils, with the Christchurch 2050 vision being worked on at the moment to determine where that growth will go and the form it will take.

“So there will be a bit of work in this space and we are working with central government.”

Roading initiatives such as the Woodend Bypass are very much a part of the mix in managing future growth, Mr Harland says.