New aquatic manager named

Paulien Leijnse has been appointed from within the Dunedin City Council to become its new aquatic...
Paulien Leijnse has been appointed from within the Dunedin City Council to become its new aquatic services manager, responsible for facilities including Moana Pool. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The Dunedin City Council's new aquatic services manager says she is excited about taking charge of one of the city's key facilities.

Paulien Leijnse (45) was yesterday named as the person tasked with running Moana Pool and the rest of the city's aquatics facilities.

Ms Leijnse, until now the council's reserves and planning team leader, was chosen from 37 applicants, including 25 from within Dunedin, 11 from around the rest of New Zealand, and one international candidate.

Ms Leijnse, who came from an ''operational background'', has been acting aquatic services manager since the resignation of incumbent Steve Prescott in March this year.

She told the Otago Daily Times she was excited about the job ahead.

''I've got a team of people here who are really good at what they're doing, and it's great to work with them to see what we can do for the future.

''It's not going to be easy, but that's what's fun.''

She will be responsible for up to 160 staff and a $7 million annual operating budget.

She was also charged with helping tackle some big challenges for the city's aquatic facilities, including addressing the ''constant quest for space'' at the city's crowded Moana Pool.

Ms Leijnse said it was too soon to say exactly what needed to change to address overcrowding, beyond making best use of facilities across the city.

However, she was in no doubt there was room for improvement.

''I think we're looking after the public as well as we can. The groups, and the different varieties of groups, are increasing ... that is a struggle.''

Her appointment comes two months after Mr Prescott resigned, following the release of the results of an independent audit.

It found he gave misleading statements about contracts he held to restock vending machines at Moana Pool, from which he had profited by up to $10,000 a year.

Ms Leijnse said Mr Prescott had done a ''fabulous job'' developing the pool, but staff had been ''very affected'' by the recent fallout, which she wanted to help address.

''What we're trying to do is go back to a positive mindset, try and deal with the negativity, and park it ... and keep on going.

''I think that's working really well. We're ticking along and we're having fun and I have the feeling there's a really good vibe here.''

The future of the pool's vending machines was already being reviewed, and Ms Leijnse said the council was considering some form of healthy eating option, in addition to what was already on offer.

''We're not going to tell people what they should or should not eat. What we're going to do is improve the options so that they can make their own choices.''


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