Mayors vote to replace DWC's John Sturgeon

Development West Coast chairman John Sturgeon (left) with Gerry Brownlee and Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn in 2010. Photo / NZPA
Development West Coast chairman John Sturgeon (left) with Gerry Brownlee and Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn in 2010. Photo / NZPA

Development West Coast chairman John Sturgeon has had his term cut short by four months after the mayors voted to replace him.

A new council appointee is expected to attend their first meeting in July; Sturgeon had been due to retire in November.

"I don't know the reasons why," Sturgeon said this morning, referring queries to the regional council.

In a short statement today from all four West Coast councils and Development West Coast, they said they had decided to replace their representative, Sturgeon, 80, from July 1.

Sturgeon had "dedicated himself to the trust since being appointed by the councils on November 1, 2010. This follows on from John's distinguished career in the coalmining and sporting fields".

The councils "extend to John a 'thank you' for his service to the trust, and to the West Coast community, and wish him well for the future".

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the consensus was that with the new economic action plan for the West Coast imminent, they should bring forward the change.

They wanted a younger person at the helm of DWC and to "get the right mix to take the West Coast forward".

DWC chief executive Chris Mackenzie said as Sturgeon was the councils' appointee, it was for them to explain why his term was ending early.

"The council made the decision, not Development West Coast," Mackenzie said.

The new appointee would not necessarily be chairman as that was elected by the trustees, he said.

Sturgeon became chairman while "two camps" existed at the trust, and he was seen as a solid mediator.

The Government's economic report on the West Coast, released last September, suggested changing Development West Coast, possibly leaving it to focus on managing the fund of more than $120 million.

The Tai Poutini West Coast Growth Study found that economic development on the Coast was fragmented and ad-hoc.

Almost everyone consulted by the report's authors had concerns or questions about DWC's investment and funding role, including it taking over 12 months to decide on applications, the report said.

An action plan from that report is currently being finalised.

The trust is made up of seven members, three of whom are elected, an appointee from the New Zealand Law Society, the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants (independent trustees), a Ngai Tahu appointee, and the trustee appointed by the four councils.

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