West Coast farmer appointed to conservation board

Katie Milne has been appointed to the West Coast Conservation Board. Photo: NZ Herald
Katie Milne has been appointed to the West Coast Conservation Board. Photo: NZ Herald
The outgoing Federated Farmers national president and Rotomanu farmer Katie Milne has been appointed to the West Coast Conservation Board.

She is among a swag of new board appointments around the country — but the only change on the West Coast — announced this morning by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.

Board chairman Dr Keith Morfett was reappointed for a second three-year term.

Miss Milne will replace sitting member Coraleen White, from Westport, after serving two terms.

Earlier this year West Coast mayors, chairs and iwi called on the minister to disband the entire board, claiming it was "stacked" with environmentalists.

Miss Milne was on a list of potential replacements the region's leaders considered more suitable for the job.

Her appointment was good news for the region, West Coast Regional Council chairman Allan Birchfield said today.

"We supported her. She was one of the liaison people the council worked with on the Lake Brunner farm planning project and she did a great job."

Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson.
Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson.
Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson said it was good that the minister had listened to the community's concerns about the board make-up.

"Katie has been a leader of the Lake Brunner protection work and the Te Kinga conservation project, but as a farmer she sees both sides of the story ... she will have a more holistic view than many of the present members."

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine also approved, saying Miss Milne would bring a wealth of governance experience to the board.

The NZ Conservation Authority liaison officer for the West Coast board, Gerry McSweeney, said Miss Milne would bring a valuable perspective to the board.

"She is very interested in integrating conservation issues and farming, and Federated Farmers has been doing a sterling job in promoting sustainability. As well as that, Katie has a practical West Coast background and a great understanding of the national scene."

Reappointing Dr Morfett to the board was also a good decision, Dr McSweeney said.

"Keith is proving to be an excellent chairman; he's doing some very skilful work bringing together the different elements on the conservation board so everyone is working towards a common goal."

Eugenie Sage. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon
Minister Sage said roughly a third of conservation board members were appointed each year, and the diversity of boards around the country had increased with the 26 new appointments made today.

"I'm pleased that these appointments bring the proportion of women members on conservation boards to 53% while 38% of board members identify as Maori."

The boards played a vital role in advising the Department of Conservation, influencing and regulating how public conservation lands and waters were managed and gave communities a voice in conservation, Ms Sage said.

"In making these appointments I have kept in mind the major tasks facing each conservation board over the next three years, and the skills and knowledge that will be required to deal with those effectively.

"I have considered the need to ensure a balance of knowledge in nature conservation, natural earth and marine sciences, cultural heritage, recreation, tourism, the local community, and Maori perspectives."

She had also sought to achieve a balance on each conservation board in terms of experience, geographic spread, gender and age, recreation interests and representativeness of community interests, Ms Sage said.

 - Lois Williams (Local democracy reporter) 


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