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Senior leadership team

The senior leadership team consists of four group managers who are responsible for one out of four departments within Council.

Chief Executive Officer

The Chief Executive Officer is appointed to manage Council operations and lead Council's senior leadership team. 

Rachel Townrow
Acting Chief Executive Officer

Rachel grew up in Westport and has always considered Buller to be home. She has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and political science.

Rachel has worked for the Buller District Council since 2007, first as Community Services Officer, then as a Policy Planner, Team Leader Planning and Policy, and Group Manager Community Services. Since the July 2020 flood event in Westport, Rachel has been seconded into the Deputy Chief Executive Officer role to lead the flood recovery programme in Buller District. Rachel was appointed as acting chief executive in December 2022 due to the departure of the previous CEO.

Council's departments

Infrastructure Services

The Infrastructure departmentis responsible for asset management, operation, and implementation of Council operated infrastructure across the district. The department controls all activities associated with roading, water, sewerage, stormwater and solid waste.


Mike comes to the Buller District Council with over 40 years of experience in the construction industry and central government. Starting his career with the Ministry of Works and moving into the private sector and then into central government and now into the local government sector.

Mike has worked on many major projects and government initiatives throughout New Zealand and overseas as a senior manager, director and business owner with extensive experience, with People, Civils, Property and Asset Management.

Community Services

The community services department is responsible for the provision of services at Council facilities such as service centres, libraries and recreation facilities. Themanagement of communication activities, overseeing Council’s properties such as parks, reserves and halls, developing community and economic development strategies and policy falls within the responsibility of this department.


Krissy grew up in Kent, England before moving to New Zealand in 2012. She moved straight to Westport where she settled down with her family. Having worked as branch manager in banking overseas, she quickly slotted into senior services and bank management roles on the West Coast. She brings more than 10-years of leadership experience and a passion for great customer service to her role.

Regulatory Services

Regulatory Services is responsible for the building and planning departments of Council as well as activities relating to compliance such as alcohol licencing and animal control. The department also oversees civil defence activities for our district.


Sean grew up in the Horowhenua, North Island, and moved to the Buller in 2000. In the Police at the time he was originally stationed in Reefton then transferred to Westport as the Sergeant responsible for Alcohol Harm Reduction, Search and Rescue, and Disaster Victim Identification.

After completing nearly 20-years of service with the Police force, Sean spent two years with the Department of Conservation before joining the team at Council in late 2018.  After acting in the role for several months, he was appointed Group Manager Regulatory Services in May 2020.

Commercial and Corporate Services

The Commercial and Corporate Services department of Council is responsible for financial and rating activities, governance and elections, internal IT support and information management. The department also oversees the management of Council operated ventures such as the Westport Portand Airport.


Douglas joined Council in 2022 as the Chief Financial Officer leading the Commercial and Corporate Services department.