New Northland Economic Action Plan manager named

Jude Thompson, who grew up in Whangarei, attended Kamo High School (1976-1980) and was the school's head girl. Photo / Supplied
Jude Thompson, who grew up in Whangarei, attended Kamo High School (1976-1980) and was the school's head girl. Photo / Supplied

Jude Thompson has been appointed as the new portfolio manager for the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan.

"The position, jointly funded by Northland Inc and MBIE, plays a pivotal role in the ongoing implementation of the action plan which is now in its second year," said David Wilson, chairman of the action plan working group and chief executive of Northland Inc.

The action plan was launched in February 2016 by then Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, and detailed 58 actions to help transform Northland's economy. The Government also pledged $4 million towards Whangarei's Hundertwasser Arts Centre at the time of the launch.

Ms Thompson, who grew up in Whangarei and attended Kamo High School, was group manager positive growth at the Whangarei District Council until she resigned in December last year following a restructure. WDC chief executive Rob Forlong described her as a "strong advocate for promoting Whangarei".

"Jude has a wealth of experience in both the public and private sectors and an extensive knowledge of regional stakeholders, Maori, local and central government," Mr Wilson said.

"Until recently she held an economic-development focused senior role with Whangarei District Council. She will continue the good work of her predecessor Carol Berghan who has recently returned to work with iwi in the Far North."

Ms Thompson will report against progress, performance and risk at all levels of the action plan to both the advisory and working groups, and will also support project managers to achieve milestones and complete actions, Mr Wilson said.

A report on the action plan released in February 2017 showed good progress on many of the 58 points, such as completion of the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, a start on replacing one-way bridges at Matakohe and Taipa, the opening of Tai Tokerau Resort College in Paihia, and a ground-breaking ceremony for the Wellsford-Puhoi motorway extension.

In the primary sector, a Maori Forestry Collective has been formed and Extension 350, in which clusters of dairy farms work together and get expert business advice, is under way.

Other progress included investment of more than $33m in Northland's ultra-fast broadband roll-out, the completion of Northland's digital enablement plan, and a start on the Hawaiki submarine internet cable.

- Northern Advocate

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