Former Tourism Bay of Plenty boss Kristin Dunne begins her new role with a global strategic marketing powerhouse today.
Yet it was a move even she didn't see coming.
After seven years with Tourism Bay of Plenty, five as chief executive, Dunne moves into a director of destination management role with Miles Partnership, a marketing company focused exclusively on travel and tourism.
In February, Dunne was considering eventually moving on from the council-controlled organisation for potentially something on a national level when she boarded a fateful flight to Dunedin.
"A 626 landed in Dunedin Airport and, as a passenger, a Māori wooden carving fell on my head from an overhead locker."
The blow concussed Dunne and despite efforts to "walk it off and keep going", she realised weeks later she would need to take time off from her role to fully recover.
Dunne said the role of chief executive of Tourism Bay of Plenty was complex, demanding and "you need to be on your full game".
"At that point I wasn't. I felt the first thing to do is to resign, make sure they will bring in someone more fully functioning which is how it came to be."
Dunne gave three months' notice and former board member Oscar Nathan, having stepped off the board, filled in before formally taking on the role after a recruitment process earlier this month.
It was the first time Dunne could think of in which she had not professionally already had things planned out, she said.
"There's been a lot in the last few years: Whakaari, Covid, my dad dying ... we lost a baby in 2018. We had a lot happening.
"Work was so much a focus but I guess the concussion made me realise I needed to have more balance in my life, so I've really thrilled with my new role."
Dunne said the blow from the Māori carving gave her pause for thought.
"I don't believe it was a random act. Many wonderful things have come from it – the concussion not being one of them. It has really altered the course of my life."
Dunne said she would have found it hard to leave the "family" of Tourism Bay of Plenty but "this helped accelerate the timing of that".
She is one of several Tourism Bay of Plenty staff who has left in the past few months.
She said the team had been very close and there were seasons with any role, and seasons had to come to an end eventually.
"When I resigned from Tourism Bay of Plenty, we thought 'well, let's have another try to have a baby'. As I said before, we lost a baby in 2018. That was heartbreaking for everyone involved."
Since then, conversations with Miles Partnership began and pregnancy – made possible through surrogacy – was successful.
Dunne and her surrogate are now 13 weeks pregnant and she was feeling "very fortunate".
Despite just starting with Miles Partnership today, Dunne will go on maternity leave in six months' time, with the company's complete support.
"Miles are really involved, they really value diversity, they really value women. It makes me feel really loyal to them."
Dunne's new role will help expand the type of work she and the Tourism Bay of Plenty team already did through the Te Hā Tapoi — The Love of Tourism campaign in recent years.
Traditionally, tourism has been very market and growth-focused but tourism needed to become more manageable, she said.
"If you have that growth happening, you need to be able to manage it on behalf of the community, the environment, the indigenous cultures from whatever region, so that tourism is a positive experience - not only for the visitors but the community."
Dunne referred to how this approach her team had started was since highlighted by Covid-19 and adopted globally with Venice refusing cruise ship visitors and Amsterdam limiting the numbers of people in its city centre.
Miles Partnership was keen to be part of this shift and was already working with state tourism organisations from Hawaii to Florida and Alaska to Colorado.
The company employs more than 240 tourism experts and has four headquarters in the United States plus one in Auckland.
"I'm grateful for the opportunities at Tourism Bay of Plenty. It's led me to this and to be able to do this kind of work is really exciting to me. The 'why' for me is if a place is well managed, it will be protected for the future. It's really exciting to be able to continue that," Dunne said.
"It's indigenous wisdom I've been allowed to translate into mainstream destination tourism."
Dunne said she had planned to keep working at Tourism Bay of Plenty for another 12 months but that Māori carving changed everything.
Today, Dunne's concussion is "getting a bit better".
Her new role is 32 hours a week and she will be mostly working from home.
"From all of these things I've talked about, losing my dad, baby ... it gives you perspective. I want to make sure I have balance and joy in my life and my family comes first."
In a statement, Miles Partnership's global head of research and insight Chris Adams said sustainability and destination management would underpin the role of New Zealand's regional tourism offices and economic development agencies in the future. Dunne's role in this would be "critical", he said.