Bay of Plenty Regional Council chief executive Bill Bayfield has resigned after five years in the job to take on new challenges in earthquake-shaken Canterbury.
Mr Bayfield, 54, has been appointed chief executive of Environment Canterbury, an organisation now closely involved with the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.
He becomes the second Bay of Plenty local government chief executive to resign in recent times. Tauranga City Council's former chief executive Stephen Town left in October to become the New Zealand Transport Agency's regional director in Auckland.
Mr Bayfield's resignation has "saddened" regional council chairman John Cronin who said he had been an excellent chief executive.
Mr Cronin said the challenge for his replacement would be to continue the work of making sure the Bay's growth was sustainable.
Mr Bayfield led a staff of about 300, with his tenure marked by deep divisions within the council on the plan to shift the council's head office from Whakatane to Tauranga where most of the region's growth was occurring. The plan was eventually defeated after a long court battle was won by the Eastern Bay of Plenty's councils.
Mr Bayfield said he was joining an organisation at the cutting edge of regional government in New Zealand.
"The challenges facing Environment Canterbury in terms of water quality and now the earthquake present a huge challenge."
He defended the regional council tier of government in New Zealand, saying it fulfilled a real role in many areas including water management, transport planning and biodiversity.
Before shifting to the Bay of Plenty, Mr Bayfield ran the New Zealand climate change office in Wellington through his position as the Environment Ministry's general manager of sustainable industry and climate change. Prior to that he spent 22 years in management roles with the Taranaki Regional Council and its predecessor, the catchment board.
Mr Bayfield was the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's second chief executive since it was established in 1989 as Environment Bay of Plenty.
Mr Bayfield begins his new job in June.