Media release

Four external appointees welcomed onto ORC committees

Thursday 17 August 2023

We have welcomed three iwi representatives to its Environmental Policy and Science Committee and Regional Leadership Committee, plus another appointment to its Audit and Risk Committee.

ORC Chair Gretchen Robertson welcomed the appointments, noting the high calibre of skills and expertise each of the members would bring to the decision-making table.

“Our partnership with iwi is important to all of the work we do at the ORC and having appointed members on our committees gives tangible effect to the partnership and provides for direct engagement and dialogue between councillors and iwi partners in policy and strategy discussions”.

Of the three iwi appointees, Edward Ellison has been appointed Co-Chair of the Environmental Science and Policy Committee, while Karen Coutts has been appointed a member of the same committee. Hoani Langsbury was appointed as a member of the Regional Leadership Committee.

The fourth appointee is Andrew Douglas, to Co-Chair the Audit and Risk Committee.

The four appointments are paid positions and each has full voting rights on their respective committees. All four have recently attended committee meetings.

Cr Robertson says debates and considerations at the Audit and Risk Committee benefit from the addition of an independent member, which gives councillors confidence, knowing they are receiving objective advice and assurance.


The external appointees

Edward Ellison, Upoko, Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou, ONZM, becomes co-Chair of the Environmental Science and Policy Committee. Mr Ellison has a long history of working with the ORC, from holding the role of Kaitakawaenga in the early 1990s, being a part of Mana to Mana (a governance partnership group between Council and Mana Whenua) to being appointed as a member on the Policy Committee, and then Strategy and Planning Committee from 2019.

Mr Ellison has a strong background in resource management and the RMA, is Chair of Aukaha Ltd (a not-for-profit company owned by local runaka), and Chair of the NZ Conservation Authority.

Karen Coutts, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki me Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, becomes a Member of the Environmental Science and Policy Committee.

Ms Coutts has significant governance experience, including through current appointments to Alpine Energy, HSNO Committee, Environmental Protection Authority and MBIE Iwi Co-Chair Regional Skills Leadership Group, Otago. 

This experience means she will be well placed to consider all environmental matters, and in particular, embed Iwi's stance on freshwater tino rakatirataka and management.

Hoani Langsbury, Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou, MNZM, will become a member of the Regional Leadership Committee. The Committee’s purpose is to monitor governance, communications, and regulatory functions of Council, champion the Council’s partnership with Kāi Tahu and engagement with Māori and uphold the four “wellbeings” in the work of Council.  Mr Langsbury has a strong background in governance, including as a member of the Otago Regional Council’s Land and Water Regional Plan Governance Group. He has a long history of involvement in conservation, resource management and local leadership to bring to the table.

Andrew Douglas has been appointed as Co-Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee. Mr Douglas was first appointed to the Audit and Risk Subcommittee in 2019, and brought with him a focus on risk management, governance and compliance. He is a Chartered Accountant and Qualified Auditor and has several professional memberships. The Audit and Risk Committee’s purpose is to provide advice about governance, risk management, and internal control matters, external reporting and audit matters.


Background to making external appointments

Under the Local Government Act, Council can appoint non-elected members to its committees, if Council considers the person has the skills, attributes or knowledge which will assist the work of a committee or subcommittee; under (Clause 31(3) of Schedule 7).

Council decided at its meeting in Cromwell on 9 November 2022 to invite iwi representatives to be members of the Environmental Policy and Science Committee, and Regional Leadership Committee, and to invite an independent member to join the Audit and Risk Committee (which is recommended by the Officer of the Auditor General). Nominations for the iwi appointments were confirmed on 28 June 2023, and the A&R Committee appointment was confirmed on 7 December 2022.