Two new public servants paid more than $140,000 form part of a proposed restructure at Whangarei District Council, with the man in charge describing the process as a "reorganisation, rather than a down-sizing".

WDC chief executive Rob Forlong said he aimed to create an "agile" organisation that could respond to the direction set by the new council elected in October.

"We need to be able to adjust depending on the fiscal climate and what the elected members want - and I'm not just thinking six months ahead, as restructures are difficult," Mr Forlong said.

The council's existing departments would be reshuffled under six umbrella roles dubbed the "strategic leadership team", replacing four "group managers".


The proposal is subject to consultation with staff, and whether the current group managers would stay on, be redeployed or made redundant would depend on what the final roles looked like.

Mr Forlong said "up to" two new roles would be created paying upwards of $140,000. These could be accommodated in current staffing budgets.

The council is Northland's second-largest employer, with 357 staff.

The consultants' report which guided the proposed restructure revealed a lean and low-cost operation with comparatively low general rates and low staff numbers compared with similar-sized districts.

Hiring more top-tier staff was an attempt to drive decision-making downward, Mr Forlong said. "[Currently] if something goes pear-shaped and ends up on the front page of the Advocate, the response is to put in a new process sending the decision up a level," he said.

"What I'm going to try and do is upskill our third tier, so we can make more decisions there. This means the strategic leadership team can spend more time focusing on where we need to be in 30, 40, 50 years."

Mr Forlong said the first phase of the proposed restructure would be finalised by the end of September. Once the new leadership team were in place, they would look at their respective teams in light of the strategy set by the new council.

"The new council and new executive team will be working together."

Staff were briefed on the proposal on Monday and will give feedback over the next three weeks.