Last week, we welcomed back Blair Masefield as our new Market Leader for Te Tai Tokerau Northland. Blair grew up in Kerikeri, started with Beca as a graduate and has been living in Whangārei for the last 4 years. He will work with our wider Northland leadership team and key sector leads to support our clients across the region.

Beca has partnered on place-shaping projects in Northland for 30 years, with many clients including the Far North, Whangārei and Kaipara District Councils, Northland Regional Council, Waka Kotahi, Kāinga Ora, Refining New Zealand, Northport, Ministry of Education, Northland District Health Board, Fonterra and Ngāpuhi.

Blair’s appointment is part of a wider partnership with local government, clients and iwi to support sustainable growth and development in the region. We caught up with Blair to find out more about his exciting new role and the opportunities in Te Tai Tokerau Northland.

What are the top three priorities for Northland right now?

  1. We need to invest in our social and physical infrastructure. Our schools are full and the health infrastructure is past its use-by-date. Our roads and rail need constant maintenance and upgrades. Our 3 Waters infrastructure is at capacity and aged.
  2. We need to deliver the ‘shovel ready’ / Covid response projects. This government investment is significant and we must not fall short or it will return to the general government funding pool.  
  3. We need to keep collaborating and get better at working together as a Northland wide collective of creative people.

What’s your vision for Northland over the next decade?

An inclusive, prosperous and sustainable place that celebrates its historical importance to New Zealand, retains its artisan culture, and makes the most of its sub-tropical climate, rich soils and seas.    

What needs to happen to ensure that growth in Northland is positive, sustainable and resilient?

As a planner, the answer has to be good planning! The coming RMA reforms will include regional spatial planning. This will require mapping out across the region where growth will go, and just as importantly where it shouldn’t or where it needs to change as part of our climate adaptation planning. Then infrastructure plans need to be developed to enable the growth. Sustainable investment decisions can then be made because there is certainty of ‘where we are heading’.

How can we preserve the unique culture of Northland while encouraging much needed investment and development in the region?

By including Northland communities in investment decisions and project planning.  This requires involving tangata whenua by growing capacity across iwi, hapū and whanau and recognising the role that mātauranga and tīkanga can play in our collective future.

What are you most looking forward to about your new role?

Making connections and through our local team bringing the best of Beca’s 3500 people to help unlock solutions and deliver projects. Together we can make Te Tai Tokerau an inclusive, prosperous and sustainable place to be.

See also December 2020