3 March 2017
New general manager joins Council team
It’s a long way from the southwest of England to the deep south of New Zealand but it’s a move the Gore District Council’s new Regulatory and Planning General Manager Dr Ian Davidson-Watts was more than happy to make.
Dr Davidson-Watts, his wife and their two young daughters arrived in the Gore just over a week ago and are already impressed by the district and its residents.
“Our experience so far is that the people are kind, friendly and open, and the facilities on offer are second to none, creating an atmosphere of refined rural life.”
This is the 45-year-old’s second role within New Zealand local government, having worked for the Grey District Council for four years also in a planning and regulatory role.
As a senior manager there he oversaw the usual regulatory functions as well as supporting the community in dealing with a range of other initiatives and issues, including a proactive and pragmatic approach to earthquake prone buildings, and the Greymouth Town Development Strategy.
Dr Davidson-Watts’ time on the West Coast was also punctuated by his involvement in a couple of significant events, the Pike Mine disaster and Christchurch earthquakes.
Returning to England in 2013 for family reasons, Dr Davidson-Watts and his wife established a successful environmental consulting business operating throughout the United Kingdom and overseas.
However, he admits their hearts had been captured by the rural New Zealand lifestyle so when the job at the Council came up “I couldn’t resist the chance to get back into a similar role with a Council, which by all accounts has a great reputation among its peers”.
Dr Davidson-Watts feels he had helped make a positive difference to the Grey community and hopes to do the same here in Gore.
Before entering local government, he enjoyed a varied career.
He served six years with the British Army Air Corps as a solider and aircrew on helicopters at various locations around the world. A helicopter crash while on duty resulted in him being medically discharged in 1994.
He retrained as an ecologist – “it’s my second passion after flying” – specialising in zoology and bats in particular. He worked for English Nature, a United Kingdom government agency promoting wildlife, geology and wild places throughout England, before heading up the Ministry of Defence’s ecology team. This saw him working all over the world advising on environmental and resource management issues affecting the military.
Dr Davidson-Watts believes his skills and experience mean he is well equipped to support the Council in fulfilling its aspirations for the Gore District.
“I look forward to building on the enabling culture that already exists in the Council’s regulatory team to achieve sustainable development and economic growth.”