Gavin Bush quits Chamber of Commerce


Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Gavin Bush has resigned from the job - less than a month after being appointed to the top role.

The chamber confirmed Mr Bush had decided to leave and it was looking to appoint a new CEO in the new year.

Mr Bush spent 23 years in senior management for the environmental services industry and starting Waste Management NZ's operations in Hawke's Bay before joining the chamber in early October.

His role included working as chief executive of Business Hawke's Bay.

Chamber president Katja Williams was reluctant to comment on Mr Bush's sudden departure.

"We wish Mr Bush well in the future," she said. "The chamber will continue to work hard to provide positive economic development planning in the region."

Ms Williams said chamber staff managed to host a successful Hawke's Bay Business Awards evening on Thursday but people at the event noted Mr Bush's absence.

Hawke's Bay Today understands a rift developed between Mr Bush and chamber staff during the short time he was in charge of the agency.

There was a complaint made to the chamber's board. Some staff indicated they could not work under Mr Bush.

The chamber had used a recruitment agency to find suitable candidates and there were a number of interviews held, reviewed by a selection panel or committee.

Former Chamber of Commerce chief executive Murray Douglas said he was disappointed Mr Bush's appointment was short lived.

"I hope for the sake of the chamber, Business Hawke's Bay, and for the whole of the business community, that the role can be filled in the new year," he said.

"The other thing is that I have great confidence in the existing staff and I am sure they will rally as they have many other times, to do that bit extra to make sure the services are seamless."

Mr Douglas, who also did not attend the business awards, said it appeared the board had found itself "in extraordinary circumstances".

He did not intend to call the chamber but said when he left last month he was available for advice if needed. Mr Douglas left the chamber to concentrate and pursue his food growing businesses.

Hawke's Bay businessman Murray Painter, one of the principals of The Export Academy of New Zealand, said it was "quite a sad set of circumstances" for Hawke's Bay and the chamber.

"The chamber has actually spearheaded some very good initiatives in the last few years and has been lucky to have a unique individual in Murray Douglas.

"I hope that the chamber can move on quickly and appoint someone that can continue and grow these initiatives.

"From a commercial perspective it will not affect our group as we deal with the staff on operational matters and only met with the CEO for strategic purposes."

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the chamber was important to the region's development and it needed to get on quickly with appointing a new CEO.

Mr Bush said he left through mutual agreement with the chamber board and was looking for other opportunities.

"I have left the chamber because of philosophical differences," he said.

"That's it, basically. I thought it was better to move on rather to carry on, so that's what happened."


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