The new boss of Western Bay council John Holyoake is about three weeks into his job, but his move from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty was more about being closer to his whānau.
Holyoake sat down with the Bay of Plenty Times this week to talk about his new role as chief executive.
After the first Covid-19 lockdown, Holyoake said he decided to have "a bit of a life change".
With family in Te Puke, Welcome Bay and Rotorua, he said being close to whānau was "a really important" part of his life, particularly as his parents got older.
After six years as chief executive of the Tāmaki Regeneration Company - the largest urban regeneration project in New Zealand - Holyoake started as chief executive at the Western Bay of Plenty District Council on July 19.
He said this was about the council's value set and working for an organisation that could make a difference to the community.
"That's the sort of place I want to work in. The opportunity came up and here I am."
With a career "in and around housing" for more than 20 years, Holyoake believed his skills from his previous role would translate well in addressing housing needs - an issue he had regularly heard about.
"Tāmaki Regeneration is a great example of how you can deliver housing - whether that's state, social, market or affordable housing.
"It's honestly one of the first things I'm going to be focusing on – what the housing requirement [and] our strategy for [the] Bay is.
"I truly believe that safe, secure housing is at the heart of everything that's important to people, so that will be a focus."
However, there wasn't one answer that would fit all when addressing housing needs in Western Bay, he said.
"You actually have to look at each of the towns by themselves... We have to look at Katikati versus Te Puke versus Ōmokoroa and say, 'what is the housing need here?'"
Holyoake said addressing housing needs was about finding out what the demand was across a continuum of different sorts of housing and who was supplying what.
"I think if you can work out a joint outcome type framework and know who's contributing what, that's the way to do it."
Holyoake said he had established strong relationships in central government through previous roles, which would help address needs in the Western Bay.
"[The] Government has recently made it publicly known that there is funding available for infrastructure," he said.
"We're actively pursuing funding from [the] Government in that space – we'll work closely with NZTA, Kāinga Ora, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to make sure we're doing the right things."
On his first day at the council, Holyoake was welcomed with a pōwhiri, where he said real partnership with Māori was the true way forward.
"I'm a true believer that the only people who should be making decisions for Māori are Māori. And if we haven't got partnerships with them that's impossible for that to happen," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"Tangata Whenua, mana whenua are the original owners of the land in New Zealand. We need to honour our commitment to the Treaty and work with them as a true partner."
Holyoake said he had some "really great relationships" with mana whenua in his last project in Tāmaki and they had done their first commercial deals with them.
"That was about partnering but it was also about providing [the] opportunity to grow wealth within iwi and to make sure we're getting better outcomes for Māori."
One of the biggest things he learned from his time at the Tāmaki Regeneration Company was "place-based is best placed".
"Working in your community, knowing what's important to them [and] living the change you make because you're part of that community is really important."
Holyoake was most looking forward to working with the community and with his colleagues who he described as "great people" in an organisation with a "beautiful culture".
And since being in the Bay, Holyoake said he had already climbed Mauao: "I think I've done what you're supposed to do – climb the Mount then hopped into the hot pools, right?"