New South Port boss appointed among a wave of regional resignations
southA well-known face has taken over at South Port NZ Ltd after months of high-profile executive resignations across Southland.
Nigel Gear was appointed as chief executive on Friday after 23 years with the organisation, currently as its commercial manager.
From October, Gear will fill the shoes of long-standing chief executive Mark O'Connor, announced his resignation in March after 18 years in the role.
Gear said he was excited to continue to grow the business in O'Connor's stead.
* South Port chief executive Mark O'Connor resigns
* Community Trust of Southland chief executive resigns
* Southlanders ask minister to investigate Community Trust of Southland
* ILT general manager Greg Mulvey to retire at end of 2017
"Mark has done an amazing job over the last 18 years and he's left some pretty big boots to fill," Gear said on Friday.
"There has been large growth over the past seven or eight years and one of the big challenges we face is maintaining that growth.
"[Mark] has coached me all these years, I guess, and so I feel I've got a pretty good handle on things, but I will be bringing my own approach to the role."
O'Connor would remain at the port until November.
South Port NZ chairman Rex Chapman said there was strong interest both internally and externally for the role, and it was "a tribute to [O'Connor's leadership] that … we have been able to find his successor from within the existing management team".
"Nigel is already well known by our customers and has been part of a very successful management team operating during the company's recent period of growth," Chapman said.
In March, O'Connor said it was time to step back from a full-time role, enjoy some overseas travel, and "identify other projects which may be of interest".
His was the first in a wave of resignations across the region in 2017, signalling a changing of the guard among senior business leadership.
The resignation of long-time Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King, confirmed to Stuff on Thursday, marks the fourth senior business leader since March to announce they were stepping down.
King said he would leave the job in February when his five-year contract was up for renewal.
"I'm 65 now, and I've been here 31 years – so I think I've been here long enough."
On June 2, Community Trust of Southland chief executive John Prendergast resigned. He was in the role for almost two decades – the longest serving chief executive of all 12 Community Trusts across New Zealand.
"I feel I am leaving an organisation that is innovative and transparent in the ways it looks to support the community," he said in June.
In a May letter to associate Minister of Finance Amy Adams obtained by Stuff, former community trust chairs and trustees asked for an investigation into the treatment of Prendergast and the "integrity of the trust" for the impact it has on the wider Southland community.
The letter said Prendergast has been an "exemplary and highly regarded" chief executive since 1997 and was widely recognised as a leader in philanthropy.
The Invercargill Licensing Trust is also looking for a new executive after its general manager Greg Mulvey, announced in July he would leave his position at the end of the year.
Mulvey has been the general manager since 1987.
Trust board chairman Alan Dennis said Mulvey's contribution to the trust was unrivalled.
"Greg is considered a font of knowledge and highly regarded nationally in the licensing trust movement," Dennis said.
"[He] has moved the trust from a position of where it was underperforming to what is now the leading trust in the country."