Stephanie O'Sullivan has been appointed the new chief executive of the Whakatāne District Council.

She will take up her new role on November 19.

Whakatāne District mayor Tony Bonne said O'Sullivan knew the area very well.

"She has worked here in the past, has family connections in Whakatāne and brings a unique governance and senior management skillset to the organisation.


"Council elected members are delighted to have employed a leader who will maintain the council's momentum and continue to build collaborative partnerships and an increasingly prosperous and resilient community," Bonne said.

O'Sullivan said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to achieving the council's vision.

"Whakatāne's climate, relaxed lifestyle, natural assets and strong cultural heritage and history provide a wonderful context to work within. I believe the district is poised for strong growth, post-settlement iwi investment, and will also benefit from the 'halo effect' of economic development opportunities in the wider eastern Bay of Plenty.

"These are exciting times and I feel privileged to be able to play a leadership role in shaping and facilitating the opportunities before us," she said.

A Bachelor of Resource and Environmental Planning (Hons) graduate from Massey University, O'Sullivan's most recent career highlights included her current role as the Bay of Plenty senior advisor for the Government's Provincial Growth Fund, and prior to that, serving as a Treaty Settlement Negotiator for Raukawa iwi in the Waikato, and chief executive officer of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ranginui.

O'Sullivan has also held numerous governance roles, including the Waikato River Authority, Tauranga People's Project and chairing the advisory board for the University of Waikato Adams High Performance Centre in Mount Maunganui.

O'Sullivan worked for Te Puni Kōkiri in Whakatāne in the late-1990s and has a sister, two nephews and friends there. Her husband, Goran Surucic, is a high school teacher and originates from Croatia.

O'Sullivan described herself as a "tangata tiriti New Zealander" – a person of non-Māori origin, whose forbears came here to enjoy the opportunities Aotearoa presents.

"I've lived a life of cultural richness, and have had the opportunity to walk in two worlds. I feel a real connection to the Whakatāne district and I'm looking forward to listening, learning and gaining a solid understanding of the area, so that I can play my part in bringing the council's vision to life."