Geopark welcomes manager

Lynley Browne
Lynley Browne
New Zealand’s first Unesco-designated geopark has a new woman in charge.

Lynley Browne began her role as Waitaki Whitestone Geopark general manager at the end of February.

She was officially welcomed into the role on Moeraki Marae last month.

While it was still "early days", she had really enjoyed the role so far.

"It’s really interesting and varied and a really nice group of people I’m working with. I just want to do my upmost to do what I can," she said.

She has enjoyed the geodiversity in the region.

"The fact that the park runs from the coast to the inland region is really wonderful."

Mrs Browne said while she was not a scientist, she had an extensive background in management and consultancy within universities and Plant & Food Research.

Originally from Christchurch, she had a special connection to Otago and the Waitaki through her late father.

"My father did a lot of work in the region when he was in his teens so he always had a real passion for coming to this region.

"I feel like it’s something that’s always been very close to me and my father died when I was quite young, about 20. When I come to this region, I feel like it’s a very special place for me."

Following the Unesco designation last year, the geopark was entering a pivotal time, she said.

"It’s a time where we can start building on that really strong platform that we’ve got and to raise the reputation and profile of the park locally, to get more people engaged nationally and internationally, because it is of international significance."

Mrs Browne applauded the efforts of geoscientist Sasha Morriss with educational programmes.

Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher was excited about Mrs Browne’s appointment.

"It is central to our efforts to boost tourism and become a community that is committed to sustainable tourism, as well as the geopark helping to tell our stories to locals and visitors alike."