Ian Collier, a former senior manager of Air New Zealand and Telecom, has been appointed as chair of the new Southland Regional Development Agency, which will incorporate Venture Southland.

The new agency’s board is made up of local and national figures with a broad range of relevant skills. The board members are: Dean Addie (Southland), Sarah Brown (Southland), Lucy Griffiths (Wairarapa), Maria Pera (Southland) and Joc O’Donnell (Southland).

They will replace the joint committee and board that previously oversaw the work of Venture Southland.

The appointment of the board was carried out by the Joint Shareholders Committee, a committee of the shareholders of the new Southland Regional Development Agency. The shareholders comprise the four councils – Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council, Gore District Council and Environment Southland – plus five community organisations: Southland Chamber of Commerce, Invercargill Licensing Trust, Southern Institute of Technology, Community Trust South and the Mataura Licensing Trust.

“We are absolutely delighted to have Ian as chair of the board,’’ says Gary Tong, chair of the Joint Shareholders Committee and Mayor of Southland District.

“While he is not a Southlander, he has had strong ties with the region over a long period of time.

“In particular, through his position in Air New Zealand, he supported local tourism development such as the Bluff Oyster Festival and more latterly helped deliver the direct airlink to Auckland.

“This is a board of real achievers in their own rights, and we know they will work with us to achieve the ambitious goals we all have for Southland.

“There is a good balance of individuals with public and private-sector experience and some real go-getters in their own business and interest areas. We deliberately selected a couple of directors from outside the region to help facilitate relationships with government, other regions and national businesses.

“This board will give the new agency the robust start it needs to do the job we want it to do,” Mr Tong says.

The board officially takes up its role on 1 April 2019, which marks the beginning of the transition of Venture into the Southland Regional Development Agency (SRDA). It is expected the transition will be largely completed by 1 July 2019, the beginning of the new financial year.

One of the first tasks of the board will be to appoint a new chief executive following the resignation of Paul Casson in February.

“We are very grateful for the service that Paul and his team have given to the region as Venture Southland and we are looking forward to a strong and ambitious programme for the new entity,’’ Mr Tong says.

“The move towards the new agency dates back to the SoRDS strategy published in 2017. We wanted to strengthen the capacity and resources of the regional development effort to meet the challenging goals outlined in SoRDS, especially the population target.

“By including both council and community shareholders, we are determined to give this agency the scale and support required to meet these challenges. I have been delighted with the way the shareholders have come together to support the common cause.

“I’m sure all Southlanders will join me in wishing the board and staff of the new agency the very best as they help us navigate our future as a region.”

There will be an opportunity in the future for stakeholders and members of the public to meet the board and discuss their plans. For the moment their focus will be on familiarisation and getting the new entity up and running.