Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she had hoped the new CEO would have a "clean desk" when he started, but then the cliff at Clifton fell down.

To'osavili Nigel Bickle, who used to head the Provincial Growth Unit, was welcomed to Hastings District Council at a Pōhiri, also known as a Pōwhiri, at Waipatu Marae.

Hazlehurst said it was exciting to have Nigel on board.

"It is an incredibly exciting day for us all, for our council, but most of all for our community."

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She said council had hoped there would be "limited dramas" for him when he started.

"But unfortunately that's not always the way it goes in local government, and our latest natural disaster is a landslide on Clifton beach, with 20,000 cubic meters of sediment and rock that are blocking a public road."

She said she and the councillors had been impressed with Bickle's understanding of issues in Hastings when they first met.

She said it was clear when she spoke to leaders in the Hastings community it became clear Bickle had a network of relationships already established with people in the district.

Bickle said he was looking forward to starting work in the district.

"I'm really looking forward to getting my sleeves rolled up and into what needs to be done.

"On one level, this is a great place... great people, great climate, the premium food and beverage economy in New Zealand, and great visitor destination, and it's enjoyed really, really strong economic growth."

He said leaders needed to be brave enough to honestly confront brutal truths.

He said for him, one of the biggest "brutal truths" which needed confronting was that one-third of Hastings kids lived below the poverty line.

Another was ensuring a clean, safe, sustainable water supply.

"Those are some of the really big issues."

The Mayors of Central Hawke's Bay and Wairoa, Alex Walker and Craig Little, both spoke at the event, as well as the Chair of Regional Council, Rex Graham.

Due to Bickle's previous work in the Pacific Islands, a kava ceremony was held following the Pōhiri.