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Watercare CEO tipped to lead Auckland super city transition

Mark Ford, who has run utility businesses for the Auckland region since the early 1990s, has been shoulder-tapped as the chairman to drive the super city council through its transitional phase.

Sources tell NBR his appointment as head of the transition agency will be confirmed with the next week as two bills to implement government policy for the governance of the Auckland region are due in Parliament.

The bill establishing the transition agency is expected to be tabled today with urgency and immediately put through all its stages. The second bill will create the actual framework for the council and will be sent to a select committee for public submissions after its first reading.

Mr Ford is the chief executive of Watercare Services, the largest of several water businesses that will be merged under the new Auckland council, and has been chairman of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority since March 2007.

Before heading Watercare, he was chief executive of the Auckland Regional Services Trust, which was formed in 1992 as the investment arm of the Auckland Regional Council. He moved on to Watercare, a trust subsidiary, in 1994.

Earlier in his career, Mr Ford was chief executive of the New Zealand Forestry Corporation and managing director of New Zealand Timberlands, both state-owned enterprises. He has also held senior positions in the petroleum industry in Europe and the US.

Three other senior Auckland businessmen are said to be in the running to join Mr Ford at the transition agency.

NBR understands one is John Waller, a former insolvency expert at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is now chairman of Bank of New Zealand, chairman of the Eden Park Redevelopment Board and recently became a Fonterra director.

Two others are Rich Lister Chris Mace and Wayne Walden, both of whom have extensive business interests.

More by By Nevil Gibson

Comments and questions

With transport the biggest issue facing the super city, it will be interesting to see how much change Mr Ford will bring to the transport management structures. Since he has been at the helm of ARTA for a couple of years, what evidence is there that he has any solutions?

Perhaps he will continue to Mark time?