Far North District Council chief executive Shaun Clarke will leave the role in March 2022 after five years in the organisation's top job.
Clarke made the announcement in an email sent to staff on Thursday afternoon, hinting that the parting of ways was a council decision.
He wrote: ''I've recently had the opportunity with elected members to consider possible tenure beyond the end of March 2022, and the outcome of the discussion is that I will be leaving FNDC at that point.''
A council can employ a chief executive for only five years, with the possibility of two more following a positive review, before the job has to be publicly advertised.
Clarke's email stated he was ''extremely proud'' of the council's achievements since 2017.
While his departure was still seven months away he said he wanted staff to know the plan.
''We have an amazing team which is going from strength to strength. My presence or absence cannot change that trajectory we are on. Between now and April next year, at least, I don't intend for anything to change in our direction of travel, and I'm looking forward to finishing more of what we set out to do.''
Clarke told the Advocate when his first three-year contract ended the council asked whether he'd consider a two-year extension with an option of further discussions after that.
''After five years things have changed. We've had another discussion and we won't be going beyond that point. Obviously those discussions are private to elected members and myself but I'm perfectly happy with the arrangement.''
Clarke said he wanted to stay in the North and continue the life of service he's started in the Defence Force.
''After this I'll probably want to take a little bit of a break, but then I'd like to contribute to some of the improvements that are going on in Northland. It's something that's captured my imagination.''
When he started in 2017 Clarke said he found a council in need of reform, so he adopted the best benchmarking system available and led 34 transformation projects. Those changes had taken the council from B-grade to BB and rising.
Other highlights included steering the council through the crises of Covid-19, floods, droughts and a tsunami threat; and the council's extraordinary success, often working through council-owned company Far North Holdings, to get as much external funding as possible for the district so it didn't have to come from ratepayers.
That had netted an extra $120m, mostly through the Provincial Growth Fund and ''shovel-ready'' funding, for Far North infrastructure — far above the council's usual $48m a year in capital spending.
Some projects, such as Kerikeri airport and wharf upgrades in Paihia, Opua and Russell, were complete but another 22 were still in progress.
''So I'm feeling pretty proud about the improvements ratepayers haven't had to pay for,'' he said.
The hardest part of the job was ''having to make really hard decisions every day'' to balance the services people wanted with what they could afford to pay for in rates.
Clarke's previous career was in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. His last role was in Canberra, where he was New Zealand's defence attache to Australia and India.
At the time Clarke had extensive experience in the armed forces, diplomacy and business — plus he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 — but had no local government experience.
He had little chance to ease into the role because he was almost immediately confronted by controversy over proposals to tighten up dog control bylaws.
Other controversies followed over Significant Natural Areas and attempted rates reforms, and he had to deal with a series of droughts and floods.
The past five years have, however, been relatively smooth given the council's track record with chief executives.
Former chief executive Clive Manley left suddenly in 2008, not long after Wayne Brown was elected mayor, and later received a $248,837 payout.
His replacement, David Edmunds, was rehired days before the 2013 election and left a few months after John Carter replaced Brown as mayor. Edmunds received a payout of $193,846.
The reasons for their departures were never disclosed.
When Clarke was hired in April 2017 the council had been headed by an interim chief executive, former Manukau City Council boss Colin Dale, for almost three years.
Councillors wouldn't comment on Clarke's departure, saying it was an employment matter so they were bound by confidentiality.
Ann Court, who chairs the Executive Review Committee, said councillors were following the legally mandated process as set out in the Local Government Act.
That act states that a chief executive cannot be appointed for more than five years.
After a review the chief executive may be rehired for another two years but after that the job must be publicly advertised.
The incumbent may re-apply but has no right to renewed employment.