The man in charge of Shane Jones' $1 billion Provincial Growth Fund has stepped down after less than a year in the job.

Senior public official Nigel Bickle will leave that role to next month to take up a position as chief executive of Hastings District Council.

Bickle, who has been the head of the Provincial Development Fund within the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation for less than a year, handed in his resignation in November and leaves on February 8.

The Provincial Development Unit is responsible for delivering the $1b in government funding to increase economic opportunities in the regions.


Bickle said his decision to leave MBIE was not one he took lightly.

"I am proud of the work done by the Provincial Development Unit to date, and to have been able to contribute to the establishment of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). The PGF is making a real difference in New Zealand's regions and to the people living there."

But he said the chance to head Hastings District Council was exciting and one he couldn't turn down.

"The region is becoming a centre of gravity for my family, where two of my children already live, and I'm looking forward to making it my permanent home."

Bickle was deputy chief executive of Immigration New Zealand for eight years.
Before that he spent nine years at the former Department of Building and Housing and 10 years at the then Department of Social Welfare.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones said he had known Bickle since he was minister of building and construction in 2008.

"He's had some tough assignments, not least of which was being the DCE of Immigration. But because he's going to the Hastings District Council I think it's more a case of 'this is not goodbye but see you soon'."

Bickle and the Provincial Development Fund were forced to apologise to Jones after $350,000 of PGF money was approved for a West Coast waste-to-energy project with connections to a businessman who had been referred to the Serious Fraud Office.

A review found due diligence should have been undertaken before funding was approved and the project announced by Jones.


"We also accept the recommendations made in the review. We fell below prudent standards of due diligence and we have apologised to the Minister for not getting this right," Bickle said at the time.

Provincial Development Unit head of investment management Robert Pigou has been appointed acting PGF head from February 11.