Tauranga City Council is announcing the city’s new interm CEO today – the same day the memorial service for former CEO Ken Paterson is being held.
Ken, aged 61, died in his sleep overnight on June 17/18. He is survived by his wife Melanie and their children Finley, aged three, and seven month old twins Mackenzie and Elliott.
The new CEO is Leigh Auton, whose appointment is to be confirmed at a public excluded meeting of the city council this morning.
The public announcement is being held back until 5pm out of respect for Ken’s memorial service which begins at 3pm.
Leigh has an extensive local government career spanning more than 30 years. He was former CEO of Manukau City Council, a position he held from 2005 until the position was disestablished in October 2010 with the formation of the Auckland super city council.
An attraction for Tauranga is Leighs’ experience in organisational change, the most significant being the restructuring of Manukau City Council in 2006.
Ken was hired in April last year by a council looking to restructure. The wreck of the Rena delayed things, but the restructuring process has been recently getting back on track with the council engaging consultants Morrison Low to undertake an operational review of the organisation.
At the first full council meeting following Ken’s sudden death on June 26, Mayor Stuart Crosby reminded councillors why they hired Ken.
“I just want to reflect on the reason why we engaged Ken in the first instance, and it was because we are seeking change in this organisation and a leadership that can reset this organisation for the current and future environment that we find ourselves in.”
In the biography on the Auton & Associates website, Leigh is described as a strong advocate of the ‘networked organisation’, having created a range of commercial or trust entities including Manukau Water Ltd, Manukau Investments Ltd, Tomorrow’s Manukau Properties Ltd, Manukau Leisure Ltd and Manukau Building Consents Ltd.
He has also overseen various outsourced supplier arrangements, including road network management and animal management. Leigh has a firm belief that organisations should be shaped to deliver strategic outcomes and to be strategically agile in how services are delivered.
Auton & Associates Ltd, which Leigh founded, works with public and private sector clients, assisting in governance, strategic thinking, organisational design and development, business planning, environmental management and planning and mediation.
Leigh holds several board positions, including positions on the boards of the Ngapuhi Asset Holding Company (NAHC), Ngapuhi Service Station Ltd (NSSL) and Auckland Council Property Ltd. Leigh chairs Recovery Solutions Group Trust and its numerous subsidiary trusts and companies, one of which is Challenge Trust. He is, or has been on, a wide range of advisory boards and committees in the public sector.
Leigh is a former president of the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI), an inaugural fellow of the NZPI, and holds several awards, including the Distinguished Services Award and the Award of Merit, from the institute.
He also received a 50th Jubilee Award from the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH).
Leigh continues to be actively involved with the New Zealand Planning Institute, hosting regular breakfast club meetings for senior members, and is jointly developing and facilitating a leadership programme for planners. Leigh’s local government career includes an extensive period in executive leadership, in portfolio areas including environmental planning, transport, water and waste services, waste management and a range of regulatory services.