New Whanganui & Partners Chief Executive appointed

Jonathan Sykes is the new Chief Executive to lead Economic Development Agency Whanganui & Partners.

Pahia Turia, Whanganui & Partners Board Chair, said the appointment of Sykes as Chief Executive ensured the agency would continue to make a positive impact on Whanganui’s business community and economy.

Sykes said he was thrilled to have the board’s confidence and support in taking the organisation forwards.

“I have a huge passion for ensuring Whanganui’s economy thrives,” Sykes said. “The work of Whanganui & Partners must bring clearly identifiable benefits to our community and I am thoroughly committed to being a part of this mahi.”

Sykes has filled the role of Acting Chief Executive during two six-month periods when former Chief Executive Hannah Middleton was on parental leave. Middleton’s second period of leave was due to end on September 1 but she has chosen to step down from the role in order to focus on her young family.

Turia said Sykes’ appointment meant the agency was able to maintain continuity and confidence and he had been pleased to see this recognised at the recent Council Controlled Organisation committee meeting where the agency’s success had been highlighted.

“We have been extremely fortunate to have a competent and proven leader in the wings,” Turia said. “When a CE steps down it can often cause uncertainty and although we are sad to farewell Hannah, we are proud to be able to follow up with such a positive outcome for Whanganui & Partners.”

Sykes said he was fortunate to lead an outstanding team. “They are all experts in their own right and we work in an environment where we collaborate and wholeheartedly support each other at every opportunity.

“I have personally benefitted from that support, from my colleagues and our Board, and I have the excellent advantage of knowing how much potential Whanganui has, how far we’ve come, and how much we can achieve together.”

Turia said Sykes’ appointment came with fortuitous timing as he prepares to step down as Whanganui & Partners Chair at the Board’s upcoming mid-September meeting.

Turia has recently assumed the role of Chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana Māori Fisheries Trust having previously held the role of Deputy Chair. He has completed two three-year terms with Whanganui & Partners, having joined the Board in February 2015, and is now in his third term.

Turia said he feels grateful that he can focus on his new role with full confidence Whanganui & Partners is continuing on the right track.

“I am proud that my final significant task as Chair is having the opportunity to announce such a capable and motivated Chief Executive.”

Turia said he was sorry he would miss out on direct involvement with Whanganui & Partners. “But I am pleased to be able to step down at a time when I have the utmost confidence in the leadership, team and the Board.”

Turia’s impact on Whanganui & Partners had been exceptional and he would be sorely missed, Sykes said. “Pahia’s popularity in our office is undeniable, it’s fair to say our team is buoyed whenever Pahia is around and we have always recognised and valued how special a leader he is.”

Sykes said a new Chair would be appointed at the upcoming Board meeting but that the agency would continue to be connected to Turia.

“We can reflect on the immense support we have always felt under Pahia’s guidance. What he has given to Whanganui & Partners can never be underestimated. Having him as our figurehead has helped tell a story of an organisation full of purpose with a desire to support our community.”

Sykes has been with Whanganui & Partners since June 2019, in the role of Strategic Lead – Marketing.

With the appointment of Sykes as Chief Executive, Whanganui & Partners has begun the process of recruiting a Strategic Lead of Marketing to fill the vacancy Sykes leaves. The Strategic Lead – Marketing responsibilities are currently being carried out by Senior Communications Advisor Rebecca Black.

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