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Lynda Murchison takes up the role in May, replacing Heather McKay, who resigned last month for a job in the private sector.
Dr Murchison has been working for Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, while also serving as a Hurunui district councillor and brings a wealth of experience to the West Coast, according to regional council chief executive Vin Smith.
"She holds a PhD in geography; is full a member of the New Zealand Planning Institute and has worked for 25 years in senior managerial positions for regional and district councils, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and private practice."
The couple has two sons, and though originally from Canterbury, Dr Murchison has strong connections with the West Coast through her mother's family.
"We're very fortunate to have landed someone of her calibre, but the stars aligned - they have a house in Paroa and clearly the Coast is a place she loves and wants to be," Mr Smith said.
By Lois Williams
Local democracy reporter