The head of Zealandia is stepping down, insisting the financially struggling wildlife sanctuary is well positioned for the future.
Chief executive Nancy McIntosh-Ward announced her decision yesterday afternoon. She spent eight years as a founding trustee and a further 10 as chief executive.
She said she was looking forward to pursuing "new challenges" - including "getting fit" - and would begin looking for a new role next year.
"I haven't got anything specific on the horizon yet . . . I will be looking around in the new year, once I've had a bit of time to myself and my family."
Mrs McIntosh-Ward said she had "thoroughly enjoyed" her time at Zealandia.
"Time flies when you're having fun. It's going to be difficult to find any other work that matches the excitement of working here, to be honest."
Her resignation follows a much-publicised struggle with financing for the sanctuary. Last month the Karori Sanctuary Trust, which manages Zealandia, posted a net financial deficit of just under $1.4 million for 2011-12, compared with $902,035 the previous year.
Its operating budget took a significant hit, ending in a $457,510 deficit after the trust effectively broke even 12 months earlier, with a $1040 surplus.
Earlier this year, Wellington City Council proposed amalgamating Zealandia, Wellington Zoo, the Botanic Gardens and Otari-Wilton's Bush, in response to requests from the sanctuary for $950,000 in funding for each of the next three years.
But Mrs McIntosh-Ward said the sanctuary was well placed for years to come.
Karori Sanctuary Trust interim chairman Kevin Brady said Mrs McIntosh-Ward "had done a tremendous job for the sanctuary", and would be "hard to replace".
Her resignation will take effect at the end of this year, and an interim replacement, to be confirmed early next week, would start work in January, he said.
The interim board will meet the city council to discuss the sanctuary in mid-December, and a new board would appoint a chief executive for the long term early next year.
Mr Brady said an interim chief executive would allow the new board to take its time.
- The Dominion Post
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