Whanganui & Partners chief executive Mark Ward has left the economic development agency after 16 months in the job.

His departure was announced in a brief statement from board chair Pahia Turia which said Ward had "left the role with immediate effect".

"We wish Mark the very best for his future endeavours," he said.

Ward had delivered what he set out to achieve in the role, Turia said.

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Ward has been contacted for comment but has not returned calls.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said he had not spoken to Ward about his departure, but that he had performed well in the role.

"I have enjoyed working with him and his knowledge of tourism and education have been very beneficial to Whanganui," McDouall said.

"Whanganui & Partners is in a strong position and the board is very solid."

Ward took over the role in January 2019 after the agencies previous head, Phillipa Ivory, also left suddenly after just seven months in the job.

Ward came with a masters in cell biology and had a career in research and development and financial and business performance improvement.

Whanganui & Partners chief executive Mark Ward and board chair Pahia Turia speak to council in December. Photo / Bevan Conley
Whanganui & Partners chief executive Mark Ward and board chair Pahia Turia speak to council in December. Photo / Bevan Conley

When he arrived, Ward said he had watched Whanganui from afar and wanted to bring together the artists, creative people, IT people, marketers, business entrepreneurs and financiers.

When he began the role last year he said his goal was to get the organisation to a point "that every business felt they knew they had access to Whanganui & Partners for what they specifically need".

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Last week Ward was commenting on Whanganui being well-positioned to come out of the Covid-19 crisis.

"We've tracked the retail figures every week and we've consistently stayed ahead of the national trends," he said.

Ward encouraged locals to get out and spread their money around local businesses and continue to grow Whanganui's market share of national visitor spend by promoting weekend trips to our region.