Kym Fell's first day on the job featured a "first" for both him and his family.

Mr Fell started as Whanganui District Council's new chief executive officer yesterday and the first job on his agenda was a powhiri (welcome) by local iwi at Putiki marae.

It was an occasion that left Mr Fell humbled and the first time he or his wife and two daughters had experienced such a greeting.

"It was certainly very welcoming and we feel honoured. In fact, it was absolutely special."


He said he saw his role as helping the council work collaboratively with the community.

"In my view, there are a lot of untapped opportunities in the Whanganui area. In particular, commercial opportunities with iwi would be number one. When it comes to iwi, there's lots we can be doing and lots we should be doing."

Responding to the welcome he received on to the marae, led by kaumatua John Maihi, Mr Fell said he valued working closely with iwi and hapu.

He has stepped into the chief executive officer role after the retirement of Kevin Ross, who had held the position for seven years.

For the past four years, Mr Fell has worked as director corporate for Regional Facilities Auckland, where he has had responsibility for managing large teams of people with budgets of more than $85 million.

Whanganui Mayor Annette Main said he had led change in both the private and public sectors, had a real strength in strategic business planning and execution, and was experienced in working with different governance structures. "He brings considerable experience in strategic and operational leadership, coupled with strong management skills, and expertise in building organisational capability and realigning business processes," Ms Main said.