Far North District Council is remaining tight-lipped about the details surrounding the resignation of its chief executive Blair King, less than a year into the job.
The council today confirmed the resignation after questioning from Local Democracy Reporting Northland, saying that it “acknowledged” King’s resignation, which was expected to be formally accepted by the council at its executive review committee meeting tomorrow.
Far North District Council (FNDC) would not say why King resigned. King is currently on annual leave.
His 11-month tenure is distinctive for its brevity. Far North Mayor Moko Tepania and his deputy Kelly Stratford did not respond when Local Democracy Reporting Northland asked for comment on King’s departure.
King started with FNDC on April 1 last year. He is understood to have resigned from the council on Friday. Councillors were told of the resignation over the weekend.
The council’s new temporary acting chief executive is FNDC group manager for people and transformation, Jill Coyle. FNDC was asked what King’s last day at work was, but the council did not respond.
King’s automatic out-of-office email reply this week said he was on annual leave from Thursday, February 16 until March 20. On February 14, King went on a reconnaissance trip on the large New Zealand Defence Force NH90 helicopter that visited Northland to support recovery efforts after Cyclone Gabrielle,
The trip was to check out flooding impacts from Cyclone Gabrielle, including in Ruawai and the Northern Wairoa River catchment, along with Whangārei’s major Whareora slip.
His background includes having worked as an engineer with the New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue (Usar) taskforce which aided rescue efforts after earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan.
A council spokesman said FNDC would soon start looking for a new chief executive.
“In the meantime, FNDC remains focused on the work that is in front of us. We recognise the great responsibility we have to our ratepayers, customers and partners to ensure that council operations continue to run smoothly,” the spokesman said.
There would be no further comment from the council on the matter, the spokesman said. King was raised on a dairy farm in Tangowahine, Kaipara. He started at FNDC after 12 years as chief executive for Wairarapa’s Tararua District Council, headquartered in Dannevirke, a position he left in October 2020.
On his appointment at FNDC, King said he applied for the role of CEO because he believed the district had significant opportunities. He was looking forward to working with the council to put in place infrastructure and services that would lift economic prospects and help the Far North thrive.
King replaced former FNDC chief executive Shaun Clarke, who left the council in March 2022. Clarke had held the position for five years from 2017. Clarke replaced acting chief executive Colin Dale who, at that time, became FNDC chief executive in 2014 for what was a three-year tenure after quitting his role as a KDC commissioner.
FNDC’s Dave Edmunds served as the council’s chief executive for four years prior to Dale until resigning at the end of 2013, after taking over in November 2009. Dale was also acting FNDC chief executive for a short time from late 2008 until mid-2009 after the council’s then-incumbent chief executive Clive Manley resigned. Manley was chief executive for nine years and left his role in 2008.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.