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Bittersweet decision for council deputy chief executive

23 Mar 2023

Buller District Council deputy chief executive Rachel Townrow has today announced her resignation. Ms Townrow, who is currently acting chief executive, says the decision was not one she has made lightly.

“For the person who started at Buller District Council 15 years ago, straight from university, it is definitely a bittersweet moment. This has, to date, been my whole working life and Westport is my home. I have worked in six different roles at council to now where I am acting chief executive. I have been fortunate with the depth and breadth of opportunities I’ve had during my time at council. I would encourage anyone to start their career in a small town as you get a range of opportunities and experience you don’t get elsewhere.”

Ms Townrow will continue to serve communities across Aotearoa in her new role with the Local Government Branch at the Department of Internal Affairs.

“A great opportunity came up in an area of work that I enjoy and am passionate about, and that I believe I can contribute to, particularly with my experiences over the past 18 months following the devastating floods we experienced here. I applied and was fortunate enough to be offered the role which I’ve accepted. This is an amazing opportunity for me to spread my wings and develop new skills.”

Leaving her beloved Buller isn’t on the cards for Ms Townrow who will continue to live in Westport.

“Westport is home, I love Buller and am not planning on moving away.”

She is confident the council is in good hands despite the changes it is experiencing.

“Council is close to appointing a new chief executive, which I think will provide some certainty to the community. There are so many dedicated people working there on behalf of the people of Buller, I have done my part and am confident the organization in in a good place to carry on and face whatever challenges might be coming its way.

“I decided not to apply for the permanent chief executive role – personally and professionally now was not the right time. While I’ve had amazing opportunities here it is time to broaden my professional experience, build new networks, gain new knowledge and take on a new challenge. All going well I’ve around 30 years of career left and I definitely haven’t ruled out coming back to council in the future with more professional experience and different skills under my belt.”

Ms Townrow’s last day in the office will be 24 May.

Mayor Cleine comments, “I’m very sad to see someone of Rachel’s calibre leave the organisation.  However I’m also proud that this organisation has given a great opportunity to one of Buller’s own young people to return from their university education and offer so many years of that expertise back to our community.  Rachel is the epitome of what we are trying to achieve as an organisation in many ways and we should always keep the door open for young people to return to Buller in professional roles.  Personally, Rachel has been an amazing support during my time in local government and I wish her all the best in her new challenge”.


further information please contact:
Rachel Townrow
Acting Chief Executive