Departing CEO looking forward to playing music

Stephen Parry. Photo: ODT files
Stephen Parry. Photo: ODT files
Departing Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry says he is looking forward to dusting off the drum kit and the guitar, and not being blamed for everything going wrong.

Mr Parry took part in his last council meeting this weekend and was congratulated for his service by Cr Bronwyn Reid.

Cr Reid said Mr Parry had worked extremely hard for the past 22 years and had shown forward thinking, which the district had benefited from.

She said during the Covid pandemic, Mr Parry had worked tirelessly, applying for different projects which had helped the district. At one time, Mr Parry had worked 28 days in a row.

She said it had been a trying past 18 months but Mr Parry had showed dignity and professionalism in that time.

Gore District Mayor Ben Bell also thanked Mr Parry for his work as interim chief executive.

Mr Parry resigned as chief executive in September but agreed to stay on until May 10 in an interim capacity.

Mr Parry said the congratulations were unexpected and he was especially grateful for the words from Cr Reid.

Mr Parry and Mr Bell had a falling out almost immediately after the 2022 election of Mr Bell.

The fallout led to the appointment of an intermediary.

Mr Parry told the meeting that it had been a career of highs and lows, and a rollercoaster ride.

Some of the highs were getting projects over the line such as getting the Mataura Valley Milk factory built and having three complex centres in the town — a sport complex, an arts precinct and the civic precinct, he said.

The lows included finding ouvea premix in warehouses around Southland.

There was also the tragic case of Gore youngster Lachlan Jones, who died in 2019, face down in a oxidation pond in Gore.

"That will remain with me for my remaining years," he said.

It was a devastating case and he hoped the inquest would shed some light on it. An inquest into the boy’s death is due to begin in Invercargill on Monday.

Mr Parry, who has been known to play the drums and guitars, said he was optimistic about the years ahead and was looking forward to being a "Joe blow’ rather than having his name in the press and "being blamed for everything going wrong".

General manager corporate support and chief financial officer Lornae Straith will be interim chief executive.

The council appointed Ms Straith in an in-committee council meeting yesterday.

She will be in the role from May 13 until June 3, when Deborah Lascelles takes the reins.