Three decades' involvement in Northland's port industry will be put to good use by New Zealand's newest regional councillor.
Terry Archer (69), former Northland Harbour Board general manager then Northland Port Corporation chief executive, this week became a Northland Regional councillor after winning the council's Whangārei urban byelection.
Successfully helming the management of now Northland Region Council (NRC)-owned former Northland port assets is a key function of NRC councillors.
NRC grew out of these assets, which came its way during New Zealand's 1980s ports reform.
Archer will be formally sworn into office at NRC's first council meeting of the year on Tuesday. He becomes part of a nine-member NRC council.
He has arrived as the region's first new councillor in 16 months after John Bain resigned from NRC in October 2020 over the council's Māori seats vote.
Archer won an eight-person race with 1671 of the total 6074 votes in the February 17 byelection. He won by a 454-vote majority over the next highest contender.
He was the last Northland Harbour Board (NHB) general manager and first Northland Port Corporation (NPC) chief executive, as the impacts of the major 1988 legislation that altered the face of New Zealand's port industry played out.
NRC is charged with managing the former harbour board assets to best effect for its ratepayers. (Whangārei District Council and Far North District Council also got divested assets.) These assets were at the time worth about $75 million.
The Port Reform Act change legislation saw assets not deemed essential for running a port separated from those that were. The non-commercial assets became the foundation of NRC's 1989 establishment, which also took in the then Northland Catchment Commission.
Archer said the opportunity existed for NRC three decades on, to make better use of some of its former harbour board land assets.
Meanwhile, NPC was formed to run commercial port operations. The assets seen as essential for running a port included wharves at ports in Whangārei, Marsden Point and around Northland, along with tugs and navigation aids.
Archer was offered the chief executive role at both entities and chose the port corporation, where he was chief executive from 1989 and retired almost a decade later, aged 47.
He is looking forward to his new governance work.
"NRC is hugely important to the North because of its role and what it will carry out in the next few years."
He said one key area NRC would be focusing on was Government changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA). NRC needed to make sure it was actively involved with these changes.
"These could be a double-edged sword - be careful what you wish for."
Water and its ownership was another key issue facing NRC into the future.
The region had huge scope, but needed water to unlock much of this.
He was in favour of large water storage dams, the water distribution options for these
being many and varied.
NRC in October voted to bring in Māori constituencies in a 7:1 vote.
"The councillors have got to vote for their constituents and according to what they believe is best for Northland. They obviously believed en masse it was better to have Māori constituencies."
Archer clearly stated in his campaigning he was against Māori seats.
"I got a lot of feedback during the byelection about this, 80 per cent of this from Māori. And when I asked what they hoped to achieve by that, it became very clear they weren't quite sure what they wanted. In the end it came down to them wanting to be sitting at the decision-making table so they could put their viewpoint forward.
"It came down to not who is at the table and who is speaking, but who is at the table and who is listening," Archer said.
Whangārei-born Archer is a passionate Northlander who went to Kamo Primary School, Kamo Intermediate then Kamo High School.
He and partner Jill Christie have lived at Maungatapere on what's now a 10-hectare block for 21 years.
Archer, a chartered accountant, started his Northland port industry career in 1969 as an 18-year-old clerical cadet from Kamo High School. He rose through the ranks. In 1980 he was sent to Europe for two years to learn more about port operations. There he spent time at four different ports on Yorkshire's Hull River in northern England.
He returned in 1982 to the harbour board position of accountant, then migrated upward to general manager in 1984.
Archer's love of horse racing and breeding thoroughbred racehorses started with his first horse bought in 1989. That ramped up upon retirement with up to 26 racing and/or breeding horses on his Maungatapere property.
The property's equine matriarch is a now 22-year-old broodmare Star Affair, more commonly known by her informal name Pamela. Her namesake is former Whangārei mayor Pamela Peters.
"We try to give the horse names a local connection," Archer said.
The name Pamela came about when Archer initially owned the horse with her then-husband, Whangārei lawyer Wayne Peters.
Archer is looking forward to what comes next in his NRC councillor tenure.
In his new role he is part of a council responsible for land, air, coast and the quality of water in Northland's lakes and rivers. There's also biodiversity, flood protection, emergency management and regional transport.
"I love Northland. We have got huge potential, of all the regions in New Zealand, we have almost the greatest potential in our changing climate.
"Just add water."