McCartney holds steady course at helm of Horizons

Incumbent chief executive to serve five more years

Mike Tweed





Michael McCartney is set to add to his tenure as the Horizons Regional Council’s chief executive after being reappointed for another five years. The job had given him “great satisfaction over a number of years”, McCartney said. “It is also one that has a great deal of meaning for me. It’s nice to marry those two together. “I’ve got family connections across multi-generations, including Whanganui, so to be able to lead an organisation that is trying to make a positive difference for that part of New Zealand is a great privilege and an honour.” McCartney said he was as motivated now as when he was first appointed as chief executive 16 years ago. Because McCartney had been in the role for a long period of time, the council thought it was important to go to the market to ensure they had the best chief executive to lead the organisation into the future, Horizons chairwoman Rachel Keedwell said. “Following a rigorous process, with excellent candidates who put their names forward, it was agreed that Michael was still the best person for the job. “Michael has dedicated his career to public service and has spent over 30 years in local government. “He is an incredibly skilled chief executive who has clearly shown us that he still has much to offer.” McCartney said local government was going through really interesting times, whether that be the debates around Three Waters or the push for environmental initiatives. There were challenges around climate change, which were particularly pertinent to the region because of floods and droughts. “The environmental considerations are far more mainstream now than they were 10, 20, or 30 years ago. I believe they are more important to people’s lives. “They are looking to organisations like regional councils to manage that in a balanced way.” McCartney’s strengths lay in his strategic thinking, his ability to see the big picture and position the organisation for the future, and his relationships with iwi, stakeholders and local and central government peers, Keedwell said. “His open-door policy and two-way communication style include the encouragement of staff progression and initiatives that enhance wellbeing. “The job of a chief executive in local government can be fraught, with political tensions, but Michael does a great job of managing these differing views. He does his best to satisfy all 12 of his bosses.” Horizons is made up of 12 councillors from six constituencies: Whanganui, Horowhenua, Manawatu¯ -Rangitikei, Palmerston North, Ruapehu, and Tararua. McCartney said another issue to address was the wellbeing of communities post-Covid-19. “How we are going to face those challenges and how we are going to build resilience into those communities is really important. “The final opportunity is how we engage with the 26 iwi across the region, in terms of advancing the cultural dimensions. “Underpinning all that is always the question of affordability of what we do, in the form of rates.” It was important that the council went through a robust process in the appointment process, and that other people had the right to apply for the chief executive position, he said. ‘You never expect anything. You just put your best foot forward and see if that aligns with what your elected members are seeking. In this case, it has.”