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Management Team

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Executive Team has a diverse range of national and international experience in local and central government, environment organisations and the private sector. You can find more information about the team below.

James Palmer

James Palmer

Chief Executive

Born and raised in Hawke’s Bay, James has been Chief Executive since June 2017, having previously served as the Council’s Group Manager Strategic Development. Prior to working at the Council, James was Deputy Secretary Sector Strategy at the Ministry for the Environment and Director Strategy at both the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry before that. Between 2005 and 2008 James served as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, and was an advisor in the Labour-led government between 1999 and 2003.

Jessica Ellerm

Jessica Ellerm

Corporate Services Group Manager

The Corporate Services Group is responsible for the financial side of the Council including rates. It also includes the information technology team at the Regional Council along with Marketing & Communications and Corporate Support. Jess grew up in Hawkes Bay and after graduating university started work as an accountant at Palairet Pearson in Napier and then at Tremain’s Real Estate before spending the last 15 years working in finance and accountancy roles overseas. For the last seven years she has been based in Sydney, most recently as Finance Director, Asia Pacific at the publically-listed UK marketing and communications company Text100.

Iain Maxwell

Iain Maxwell

Integrated Catchment Management Group Manager

The Integrated Catchment Management Group is the largest Group in the Regional Council and includes environmental science, environmental information, catchment management, biodiversity and biosecurity. Integrated Catchment Management is a process, which recognises that everything that happens within a catchment is linked. The aim is to integrate the Regional Council’s activities and those of others working within the catchment to achieve overall outcomes. Iain joined the Regional Council in 2011. Iain has been working in the management of freshwater resources for over 25 years. He has worked with Nelson’s Cawthron Institute as a Senior Freshwater Ecologist, a Regional Manager with Fish and Game New Zealand and the Department of Conservation.

Chris Dolley

Chris Dolley

Asset Management Group Manager

The Asset Management Group is responsible for looking after a diverse portfolio of river and coastal engineering, flood scheme operations and maintenance and the regional park network. Prior to joining the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Chris was Manager Asset Strategy at Napier City Council where he was responsible for transforming the way assets are managed in Napier. He oversaw a wide range of council assets, including stormwater, wastewater and drinking water, along with the inner harbour, parks and reserves and the development of Parklands Estate. Chris has more than 20 years’ experience in strategic and operational engineering management roles in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Katrina  Brunton

Katrina Brunton

Policy & Regulation Group Manager

Katrina grew up in Auckland and after graduating with a Masters and First Class Honours degree in Resources and Environmental Planning and Geography from the University of Waikato, started her career as a policy analyst at Taranaki Regional Council. She has spent over 20 years in central and local government working in policy roles with the Ministry of Transport and New Plymouth District Council, Environmental Consents Manager at the Hastings District Council and Customer and Regulatory Solutions Manager at the New Plymouth District Council. Katrina is a full member of the New Zealand Planning Institute and the Resource Management Law Association.

Pieri Munro

Pieri Munro

Te Pou Whakarae (Māori Partnerships Group Manager)

This senior executive role provides organisation-wide leadership, guidance and representation and will help staff and councillors engage more effectively with Tāngata Whenua. Mr Munro was National Advisor Māori for WorkSafe New Zealand, where he supported the establishment and recruitment of Māori Safety Champions and was involved in the development of a marae-based forestry health and safety intervention pilot scheme. He has held senior advisory roles in the Ministry of Fisheries, New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals through MBIE (Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and the NZ Police College. He had an extensive 35-year career with the New Zealand Police rising to the rank of Wellington District Commander. In 2004, Mr Munro was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for his contribution to cultural development of New Zealand Police. He is the current Chair of Medic Alert New Zealand Incorporated and Deputy Chair of Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa (PSGE).

Diane Wisely

Diane Wisely

Executive Assistant to CE

Diane has been with the Regional Council since 2001 and is Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive, Chairman and GM Office of the Chief Executive and Chair. Before joining Council Diane worked for three years in Australia as Registrar and Headmaster’s Secretary at Toowoomba Prep School and prior to that has worked as a Personal Assistant in Legal practices in Hawke’s Bay.

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