Peter Beggs talks with Chronicle reporter Lucy Drake about his career, future council projects and a new era for the Rangitikei.
A fresh face to the region and a fresh start in his career is how you might sum up Peter Beggs' arrival in the Rangitikei.
Beggs is just two weeks into his job and says he is loving it.
Seeing diverse, passionate people striving for success and prosperity in their community had him hooked, he said.
"The aspiration of the council was the thing that led me to really pursue the Rangitikei opportunity."
He said it was an opportunity he was indebted to the Rangitikei District Council for giving him.
Beggs began his five-year term as the council's chief executive on October 22.
But he was already thinking long term and would not be restrained by a timeframe.
"For however long I'm working here, the thing that I would really like to get to in the end is to look over my shoulder and ask 'have we said what we said we'd do, have we listened, have we empowered, have we acted with empathy and integrity and are the staff that work here fully engaged'.
"It's not necessarily bricks and mortar things, they will come as a result of those."
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He said his role was to support the council's vision, made clear by its long term plan.
And this, of course, included future projects, one of which was the Bulls Community Centre that, immediately after starting work, he pushed paused on to be fully briefed on all aspects.
"We've got to deliver that Bulls Community Centre, and I'm delighted things are back on track now. I understand a lot more about the people involved and the complexities of a building like that in our district."
He said the council was also looking at the Marton Civic Centre, other water assets and retaining the Mangaweka Bridge for a walking and cycling facility.
But Beggs said he wanted to deliver all projects in an effective way.
"Firstly that we're going down the right path to deliver them, not just doing them, doing them well, consulting well, making sure we've listened to all parties that want to tell us their views and offering our ear.
"It's okay to be vulnerable, to speak up, because that goes across the board for delivering what we said we would and doing it really well, but also in health and safety."
He said there would always be differing views in the communities but the key was to make sure the council had listened to all views before making a clear decision.
"Sometimes people aren't going to get the decision they want and sometimes they are, but a decision is better than no decision and I'm going to make sure we make good decisions based on all the evidence we've got."
Two weeks into his role and he has already had a dozen opinionated emails he needs to get through, something he encourages from communities to share their views.
"The worst thing we can do is say the decision's made, go away. There is going to be a time, however, when we say the decision's made, not open to relitigate but until then you're allowed to express yourself when it comes to the democratic process."
Already Beggs has met with farmers, councillors and various ratepayers and said he saw potential opportunities the region offered for future growth.
"We are a rural economy here - we've got some big farms. I'm lucky to have met with some of them, I'm now asking what can we do to help them."
He believed forestry would change the face of the community, bringing about new jobs and new technologies.
"It's going to add to our ratepayer base; therefore, we can put back into making sure our streets are clean, our roads are safe - all those things important to communities."
When it comes to communities' needs, Beggs told his staff "what you walk past is what you accept".
"If there's a pothole you're just accepting as a hazard, it's not right. We don't have to spend $10 million filling it in. Put an orange cone near it temporarily - it doesn't cost that much."
Developing new infrastructure and financing projects would incur debt but currently the council had very low debt, he said.
Born and raised in Christchurch, Beggs was in his hometown, at a fuel station just down the road from the Christchurch mosque shootings, on March 15.
Beggs said he believed his home town was a resilient community that had been tested for resilience, with Christchurch earthquakes as well, and demonstrated it.
"But I would say there have been many communities in New Zealand that have been impacted by natural disasters, flooding in this district, and their ability to come back from it."
Beggs has held both international and national leadership positions in large companies.
He lived in Europe for around 12 years before returning home.
He said the skills he brought from these organisations were being able to empower and develop people to make good leadership decisions for themselves.
In 2013 he was appointed the chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand, where he worked closely the scientific community on climate change.
"I've seen with my own eyes the impact of climate change, we all have, and working with those scientists internationally to fully understand what is going to be happening, it is real and I'm a firm believer in adaptation and litigation and preparation."
Beggs said he would call on "every scrap of experience" he had, be it from big business, corporate, government or engagement with people, and insert that into his new community.
He hoped to repay the faith that had been shown to him.
Beggs was fired from his position as chief executive of government agency Antarctica New Zealand last year after an investigation into his conduct concerning electronic communications with a board member. Beggs would not comment but Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson said in an earlier interview the council was satisfied Beggs had been transparent during the interview process and discussions with referees had been exhaustive.