Peter Farmer will step down after six years as chair of Tauranga’s largest council controlled organisation Bay Venues at the end of April. He will be succeeded by well-known Tauranga lawyer Michael Smith.
Farmer – who has been involved in Bay Venues since the year-long preparation leading up to its creation in July 2013- said the role had given him tremendous satisfaction.
“When council announced it would bring together Tauranga City Aquatics and Tauranga City Venues into one larger organisation, there was a lot of preparation work that had to be done in anticipation of the ‘go live’ date,” he said.
Highlights of his tenure have included the redevelopment of the Mount Hot Pools, the collaboration that resulted in the creation of the University of Waikato Adams Centre of High Performance, and the endorsement from the Auditor General’s office of Bay Venues as one of the country’s leading CCOs, he said.
Other memorable milestones have been the continued popularity of the facilities, with visitor numbers now at 2.2 million per annum.
And this had been done without any additional ratepayer subsidy required from council, noted Farmer.
“We turned a $2 million deficit EBITDA* – the performance of the business units when they came together – and within two years we had turned this into profit,” he said.
Farmer said he was proud that Bay Venues had instilled a culture where the organisation was entirely focused on the community and community outcomes, based on good business disciplines
“Once you aim a business to stop it losing money and run it on business principles, you end up providing better services for the community.”
Farmer also pointed to the commitment to innovation, as evidenced by the development of Jetsprints and drifting at Baypark, and the development of Bay Dreams as New Zealand’s largest outdoor concert.
“I’ll miss it – it’s been good fun.”
Bay Venues’ chief executive officer Gary Dawson recognised Farmer’s significant contribution to the organisation since its inception.
“There are three qualities which have marked Peter’s time as the chair of the organisation,” he said.
“Peter has established a solid governance model, with clear direction, vision and purpose, and strong trusted relationships with our shareholder, Tauranga City Council.
The organisation has benefited from Peter’s tremendous business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit.
“And perhaps most importantly of all, we have all seen first-hand the absolute passion that Peter has for the city of Tauranga and its people.”
Staying true to the vision
The designated new chair Michael Smith has been involved with Bay Venues since March 2013, having previously been chair of Tauranga City Investments, which was the 100 percent shareholder of the Aquatics and Venues businesses.
He has also been a director of BVL since July 2017.
Smith noted the responsibility that rests with the board and management team to act as the kaitiaki of community facilities, with decisions made that are in the best interests of the people of Tauranga.
“We must keep one eye on the upkeep and maintenance of the current facilities and ensure our programmes and services remain relevant, but also keep the other eye on the future needs of the city so that we can stay true to our vision, which is to enrich Tauranga for everyone.”
“Peter has left some big boots to fill, with the organisation in good shape thanks to his stewardship and leadership. He has made Tauranga a better place to live, work and play – and for that, we should all be grateful.”
– By DAVID PORTER
*EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation)