Gore council CEO Stephen Parry resigns

Outgoing Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry has announced he is leaving the role after 22 years of service.

Mr Parry tendered his resignation on Friday and the council advised of the decision in a media release today. It is  effective from Tuesday, October 31.

In a statement on behalf of the mayor and councillors, intermediary Cr Richard McPhail said the council was grateful to Mr Parry for his "tremendous work" over the years.

“He has been a champion for Gore and its ratepayers and a senior figure on Southland’s local government landscape.”

While the council understood his decision, it acknowledged Mr Parry's "extensive experience", and they would miss his high degree of professionalism, Cr McPhail said.

“Steve has a wealth of knowledge and is well respected in local government circles.”

He leaves an experienced senior management team and staff, which would be of great assistance for the future, Cr McPhail said.

Mr Parry joined the Council as chief executive in September 2001. During his local government career, he had served as president of Taituarā, when it was the Society of Local Government Managers.

He also served as the Australasian vice-president of ICMA, an international association for local government professionals.

In an email to staff today, Mr Parry expressed his pride in serving as chief executive and the culture that had been forged at the Council.

“I leave with no regrets and a fair degree of excitement about what lies ahead.”

Mr Parry said he planned to take time to reflect and set his priorities and challenges for 2024. He was looking forward to spending more time with his family.

Gore Mayor Ben Bell (left) and Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry. Photo: ODT...
Gore Mayor Ben Bell (left) and Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry. Photo: ODT files

Fraught relationship

In October last year,  the Southland town elected New Zealand's youngest ever mayor, when Ben Bell, then aged 23, won the mayoralty by just eight votes.

However, Mr Parry and Mr Bell have had a fraught relationship since then and had stopped talking. An intermediary was appointed to work between them. 

In June, Mr Bell and councillors apologised to the chief executive for a breach of his privacy this year, "which triggered public and significant media attention on Mr Parry, causing significant harm to him, his family and his reputation".

Mr Parry accepted the apology.

"The mayor and council wish to voice their unreserved confidence in Mr Parry and his capability, as well as that of his team," the council said in a statement along with the apology.

"The council also affirms that Mr Parry is a skilled and experienced local government chief executive and has created a strong management team around him who are all supportive of him as their leader."

Mr Bell said today the council hoped Mr Parry would assist with the transition to a new chief executive and recruitment would begin immediately.

“The process will take about six months, which means we will be looking to appoint an interim chief executive in due course,”  the mayor said.