New SDC boss checks out council

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014

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It has been a busy few days for Steve Ruru.

The incoming Southland District Council chief executive is spending a few days in the south learning the council ropes and house hunting.

Ruru won't officially fill the role until October 20, but this week has spent several days experiencing how the council works.

Also on the agenda is house hunting with his wife and daughter, who arrived yesterday.

"It's not something a man's allowed to do on his own," he said.

But his visit was still work focused.

The plan was to get an understanding of local issues and challenges facing the council before his official start date.

"I'm looking forward to getting down here; I'm enjoying the interaction with councillors and senior members of staff," he said.

Ruru attended Wednesday's council meeting, a workshop with councillors on the upcoming Long Term Plan, and hopes to meet staff in Winton today, weather permitting.

Southland was ahead of most of the country with the success of the Shared Services Forum, a collaborative effort between councils in the region, and he was looking forward to building on that success, he said.

Some of the challenges facing the council included the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail and sewerage schemes for Curio Bay and Te Anau.

Ruru resigned as chief executive of the Kaipara District Council to take up the Southland position.

When the Kaipara council was taken to court over the Mangawhai wastewater scheme, Ruru was recruited to handle the fallout.

People could not compare the Kaipara District Council's wastewater troubles to the controversial proposal at Te Anau, he said. "[In Kaipara] the project was unique. It was the perfect storm in some ways," he said.

But Ruru was confident he was leaving Kaipara in a better position, and was excited to be coming south, he said.

He will return to Kaipara on Sunday but hopes to travel south again before formally starting work.

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