Christie's new role: enterprise required

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie is the new Enterprise Dunedin director. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie is the new Enterprise Dunedin director. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie is transferring his skills to the Dunedin City Council as its new Enterprise Dunedin director.

He takes up the role - which involves economic development and city marketing - in late October.

Mr Christie has been a passionate advocate for business in Otago during his 21 years with the chamber and told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he remained impassioned about Dunedin and the region as a whole.

''I love Dunedin. It is a place I have chosen to stay and bring up my family.

"I am a product of the good training received from so many people.

"I have been loyal to them and they have been loyal to me in their mentoring, advice and sometimes harassment.''

Mr Christie has not always had a easy relationship with the council.

He admitted there were times when he wondered what he faced some days but knew he was there to get the voices of business heard in the city.

''It's not always easy taking a different position from the city on some issues.

"Sometimes it gets personal but I am just doing my job to the best of my ability to make a change. I wouldn't change anything.''

DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose was delighted with Mr Christie's appointment.

''It's fantastic to have someone in this role who is familiar with the economic base of the city and who has made such a great contribution already to business growth and the tourism sector.''

Mr Christie said economic development was not easy and a long-term view was needed.

The chamber had combined with the city, tertiary institutions and Ngai Tahu to develop an economic development strategy for Dunedin, which was already working well, he said.

Asked about his network of contacts worldwide, Mr Christie said New Zealand had few people who understood economic development and it was rare to find people with experience.

Former DCC chief executive Paul Orders understood the need for ongoing development and remained willing to help, he said.

Also, the city's links with Shanghai were paying dividends with further announcements likely soon, Mr Christie said.

Otago chamber chairwoman Ali Copeman said Mr Christie's new appointment was a massive loss for the chamber but an equally massive gain for the city.

Under Mr Christie's leadership, the chamber had grown from a small organisation to the second-largest chamber in the country.

The council received 37 applications for the position.


The Christie file

John Christie

• Aged 46.

• Married with three children.

• Educated at Otago Boys' High School and the University of Otago.

• Joined Otago Chamber of Commerce in 1993 in an administration position and became chief executive in 1995.


Please explain

It was only a couple of months ago that Mayor Cull was telling us Council had no mandate for promoting economic growth. Mayor Cull said that economic growth was a matter for Central Government. So does Mr Christie's appointment mean a reversal of that view? What exactly is Mr Christie supposed to achieve when we all know there is no money in the council's coffers to do much of anything. What we will get for our money is a heap of touchy feely announcements, PR and spin as Mr Christie tells us how great Dunedin is, how well we are doing and just how lucky we are. That will comfort us all as we drive or walk past the empty shops and enjoy being the second most indebted ratepayers in the land behind Auckland.[Abridged]

Cognitively-dissonant leadership.

So do we want 'business growth', Ms Bidrose, or are you saying that he's contributed to that in the past but now is joining an Authority aiming for sustainability?

Ye cann'ae have both, d'ye ken?

The alternative to sustainability is, of course, unsustainability. Nobody is silly enough to advocate that, surely?

Tourism, based entirely on (totally unmitigated and unmitigatable) fossil fuel-use, is unsustainable, even in the short term. The lead-time to get our City onto a sustainable footing before events overtake us and close down options - is shortening by one day every day.

Time someone fronted up.


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