Gore council ends search for new CEO

Deborah Lascelles. Photo: Supplied
Deborah Lascelles. Photo: Supplied
The woman appointed to be the new Gore District Council chief executive has no qualms about accepting the role.

The council appointed Deborah Lascelles as only its third chief executive in 35 years today.

She begins in the role on June 4, replacing former chief executive of 22 years Stephen Parry.

Ms Lascelles, 48, has worked at the South Waikato District Council for the last two years, initially as group manager community and corporate, and then as executive manager strategy and transformation.

She has also held senior roles with Waipa District Council and Hamilton City Council.

She said she was aware of the issues Gore councillors, mayor and chief executive had been working through since the 2022 election but could not comment as she had not been involved.

"All I can say is that throughout the interview process my dealings with senior staff and with the mayor and the elected members were characterised by great hospitality on their part and enormous respect, so I don’t have any concerns on that basis in terms of taking the role."

Dealing with conflict was part of the role of a leader.

"Listening to people and the issues they’ve got is probably a critical tactic."

She was thrilled to be joining the team at the council.

"I am looking forward to getting to know the communities within the district, getting to know staff and getting stuck in to what is shaping up to be a busy time for local government over the next few years.

"I love small communities."

She was very familiar with the challenges facing rural communities, she said.

The council received 74 applications from throughout New Zealand and overseas for the position.

Gore District Mayor Ben Bell said the quality of applications had been outstanding.

"We were pleasantly surprised with the number of professionals who saw the council as a progressive organisation and Gore as a great place to enjoy a career and lifestyle."

Ms Lascelles had the experience and skill set to lead the council, he said.

"She is a strategic thinker, skilled at building strong community relationships and leading large teams.

"Coming from a provincial Council with strong rural ties makes Debbie a great fit for Gore."

Recruitment agency Brannigans and the council’s recruitment panel chose five preferred candidates to be interviewed by councillors in Queenstown.

"When we compared flights, travel and venue costs between Gore, Invercargill and Queenstown, the latter was considerably cheaper," Mr Bell said.