Media release

ORC Chief Executive departure announced

Wednesday 11 May 2022

The Chief Executive of Otago Regional Council has announced today that she is leaving ORC. This was something that Mrs Gardner has had under consideration for some time.

Mrs Gardner has held the CE position since January 2018 and after just over four years in the role, she has been instrumental in making significant change to the culture, delivery and operations of the Council.

Mrs Gardner said when speaking to staff earlier today that:

“It had been an absolute privilege to lead such a special organisation full of talented people who care about their Region”.  She noted the extensive expertise of staff and their commitment to making a difference for the future of Otago.

Highlights of her time with the organisation include the new programmes for biosecurity and catchment management in Otago, the development of a fit for purpose organisation with the budget and staff to do its best work, the extensive progress made on planning for land and water management and the development of genuine partnership with Treaty Partners that has become significant in many aspects of ORC’s work, Mrs Gardner said.

“While often misunderstood, the work of Regional Councils is vital to the future of regions like Otago.  Management of natural and physical resources, building resilience to natural hazards and climate change, and facilitating community work for environmental benefit, pest management and landowner led outcomes is imperative for future generations.  She said Regional Council staff are special people who work hard and sacrifice more lucrative careers for the public good,” she said.

Chair of the Regional Council, Andrew Noone, said Mrs Gardner had made a considerable contribution in her time at ORC and we sincerely thank her for all she has done for Otago. 

“She has raised the practice and performance of the organisation in many areas and has been a well-respected and highly thought of CE.  Her legacy will be evident in several areas, particularly with the strength of the team she has built in the organisation, with the greater role Council is playing in projects making a difference on the ground across Otago, with the fit for purpose freshwater policy in progress and in the exciting new headquarters development that the organisation expects to relocate to next year.  Mrs Gardner will be sorely missed and we wish her every success for her future.”

Mrs Gardner leaves ORC on 18 May 2022.


ORC CE Sarah Gardner and her PA Janice Coldicott

Otago Regional Council Chief Executive Sarah Gardner and her PA Janice Coldicott.