News | 12 June 2023
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Whiria te tāngata - Wellington City Council Chief Executive wins top award

Wellington City Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow has won the Distinguished Management Award at the Taituarā Local Government Excellence Awards event held in the capital city on Thursday 8 June.

Wellington City Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow with the Distinguished Management Award at the Taituarā Local Government Excellence Awards

Ms McKerrow has achieved a considerable amount throughout her 37-year career in local government. Not only has she had an impact on the councils she’s served, but she has also contributed significantly towards the governance of Taituarā (formerly the Society of Local Government Managers) for many years.


In 2017, Ms McKerrow moved from her Chief Executive role at New Plymouth District Council to Wellington City Council to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer - responsible for about 1200 staff delivering a diverse range of community services. She was also the Council’s executive lead for Wellington's Decade of Culture and Predator-Free Wellington.


Ms McKerrow was appointed to the Chief Executive role in March 2020. 


Highlights of her time in this role include leading the Council on significant infrastructure decisions, including work to carry out three decades of investment within one decade; Working Better Together – an internal strategy to help increase collaboration across the Council to deliver better outcomes for the community; empowering Māori development and capability; Te Atakura Strategy on Climate Change and delivering major projects including the Tākina conference and exhibition centre and the rebuilds of the St James Theatre, Te Matapihi Central Library, and the Town Hall. Barbara’s leadership through COVID enabled the organisation to respond to keeping the city running.


Mayor Tory Whanau says the award is well deserved and recognises Ms McKerrow’s achievements and astute leadership. “It celebrates and showcases Barbara’s outstanding mahi and contribution to the success of the local government sector, the city and the Council itself. Barbara has achieved this with grace, mana, loyalty, patience, commitment and good humour.”


Ms McKerrow’s nomination was also supported by the City Council’s Tākai Here partners.


Helmut Modlik, Chief Executive of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Toa, says: “This recognition of Barbara’s leadership is well deserved, particularly from my perspective, her contribution to building a positive, trusted, ever closer partnership with mana whenua in Pōneke. Ka mau te wehi!”


“There isn’t anywhere in the country that Māori people can go and work in a partnered environment in local government and mana whenua and have access to a more stimulating, positive and progressive set of people, thinking, and endeavours than here in Te Upoko o Te Ika.”


Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice adds: “As mana whenua, we cherish a valued friendship with the CEO of our Wellington Council. We are truly delighted that Barbara's exceptional contributions have been acknowledged, and we eagerly look forward to our continued collaboration with her as partners."


From six categories and 43 entries, Wellington City Council was shortlisted for two significant projects.


The Pōneke Promise: The Beca Award for Placemaking

The Pōneke Promise is a joint initiative between key Wellington stakeholders from across local government and business. The aim is to create a central city that is vibrant, inclusive, compassionate, and safe.


Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, the city's hospitality industry, retailers, mana whenua and Police came together to launch the Pōneke Promise as a social contract in response to the community's concerns around safety in the central city.


Wellington City Council was highly commended for this entry. 


Tūpiki Ora: Te Tohu Waka Hourua – The Buddle Findlay Award for Māori-Council Partnerships

Following the co-design of Tākai Here, a unique mana whenua-led partnership signed between all mana whenua leaders and the City Council, Tūpiki Ora was collectively designed.


Tūpiki Ora, a metaphor for the pursuit of Māori wellbeing, is the City Council's 10-year Māori strategy and action plan, created by mana whenua, Māori and the Council to support and develop vibrant, thriving whānau in Wellington.