The councillors first offered the job to Rodger Kerr-Newell, a former Lower Hutt, New Plymouth and Rodney local government chief executive, but he turned it down at the last minute. This forced the council to re-interview the three remaining finalists.
When asked why he turned the job down, Rodger said he would not discuss his “personal life”, but Bay of Plenty Regional Council chief executive Bill Bayfield says plenty of people in Auckland know all about his situation.
Talking publically about Ken as the second-choice CEO is not a popular subject among councillors.
Bill Faulkner says any of the four shortlisted candidates were equally capable of doing the job. “Ken displayed enthusiasm for the challenges,” says Bill. “He’s got a sense of humour, and he will need it.”
Murray Guy also would have been happy with any of the final four. “Where some applicants had some strengths, another mightn’t have been quite as strong in that area, and vice versa,” says Murray. “The first candidate was equally qualified one might say, but perhaps a little bit more flamboyant in nature. He doesn’t fit what most of us consider to be that bureaucratic mould, you know – your pin-striped suit. He comes from a totally different mould, more mixed background, which I think best suits our community going into the future.”
Murray says Ken’s age of 59 is also an advantage for Tauranga because it means he will not be using Tauranga as a “springboard into his next opportunity of advancement”.
Tony Christiansen says Rodger is skilled in contract negotiations, which is an area he feels the council and previous councils has lacked expertise in on occasion. He says Rodger’s choice not to take the job was his loss at the end of the day. “It’s a shame because Tauranga is a great place and I would have thought he would have been up for the challenge,” says Tony.
Terry Molloy says Ken’s engineering background means he is good at delivering outcomes in projects or restructuring. “The principal one for me is economic development because economic development is going to be the thing that will drive us forward and he is very strong in that area,” says Terry.
“He will be a refreshing pair of new eyes to look at our structure and I think he will make some changes, but these difficult times that we have, always force some changes.”