Kiri Allan, founding Chair of the Eastern Bay Regional Growth Leadership Group (RGLG), has announced she is stepping down from the role of Chairperson.

She made the announcement at the most recent full meeting of the RGLG on Monday in Whakatāne at the meeting she Co-Chaired alongside Sir Michael Cullen.

Following a conversation at the Te Teko race course, the RGLG was established in 2017 by Ms Allan and the three (then) Mayors of the Eastern Bay of Plenty Malcolm Campbell, Tony Bonne and John Forbes with the purpose of aligning the region’s economic growth aspirations. Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Gary Webber was also in attendance at that meeting and has been incredibly supportive of the RGLG since its inception.

From humble beginnings – the group has since secured more than $300 million for the region.

“Our objective was to ensure that our region put forward a clear and coordinated economic growth vision for the entire Eastern Bay region to central government in order to attract much needed investment to the region.” Kiri Allan said – who started the role as she entered into parliament as a Labour List MP in 2017.

“The Eastern Bay of Plenty flourishes when the region works collaboratively, so we worked hard to align the respective visions of the three district councils, alongside iwi and the private sector within the region. We had a tentative goal to secure approximately $100m of central government investment across a range of key projects in the region that would enable other projects to get off the ground.

“I felt extremely satisfied reporting back that as a region, we had collectively secured more than $300m from a range of government investment funds which will unlock the economic potential of communities from Minginui to Ōpōtiki, Kawerau to Whakatāne.” Ms Allan said.

The government investment also includes substantive funding for key infrastructural projects such as three water, flood mitigation, roading and building upgrades.

“The Eastern Bay of Plenty has been substantively under invested and neglected for many years. We have incredible champions for the region and it has been through the collective efforts of many within the Eastern Bay that we have been able to be so successful over the past three years.” Kiri Allan said.

The RGLG includes Mayors Judy Turner, Malcolm Campbell and Lyn Riesterer, alongside the CEOs for the three district councils, iwi leaders from throughout the area and private sector investors.

Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell expressed his gratitude to Kiri Allan. 

“On behalf of the Kawerau district, we want to thank Kiri for all of her hard work over the past few years. Her ability to bring the three districts and the region together for the RGLG funding is commendable. Without her diligence and connectedness, we wouldn’t have been successful in bringing $300 million into the Eastern Bay sub region. It is with regret that we are losing Ms Allan as Chair, but we hope she will continue to work with us in our endeavours.” Mr Campbell said.

He added, “As one of the original Mayors at the start of RGLG, I want to acknowledge the two previous Mayors; Tony Bonne and John Forbes for their input into the initial PGF Funding. We made a great team! I also want to acknowledge Mayor Gary Webber and Sir Michael Cullen for their ongoing support.”

Ōpōtiki District Council, Mayor Lyn Riesterer, said Ms Allan was key in the group’s success thus far.

“Under Kiri Allan’s leadership by incorporating iwi, business concerns and local government leaders, our united approach and diligent work in putting together a joined-up response to central government investment funds has ensured the best possible results for the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

“It has been a pleasure to be able to celebrate many of the regional development projects that have been funded. Kiri Allan, alongside the three Mayors have tried to be there for many of those announcements to share in the collective joy of what we have achieved together.” Ms Riesterer said.

Whakatāne Mayor, Judy Turner, shared the same sentiment and acknowledged all of Kiri Allan’s work during her time as chair.

“Kiri was instrumental in recognising the potential of taking a coordinated, collaborative approach to Eastern Bay economic development. Her work with the Eastern Bay Regional Growth Leadership Group, alongside council and iwi agencies, has resulted in lifting investment into the region and putting in place a platform for future growth and success.” Judy Turner said.

Kiri Allan, has decided to step down from the role and provide an opportunity for someone to carry on the important role.

“It has been my absolute privilege to lead this group over the past few years and I want to acknowledge the strategic guidance my co-chair, Sir Michael Cullen, has provided to the RGLG.

“I felt that it was now time to pass the baton on to someone who will continue fulfilling the aspirations of the region and I look forward to formally doing so at the next RGLG meeting and I will always be a strong ally of this group and the incredible people involved.” Kiri Allan said.

Mayor Malcolm Campbell said in respect of the future leadership arrangements that, “as a Leadership Team, we take this time to gather our thoughts before we look for a new Chair”.