Former Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Michael Cullen is one of two new appointments to the Bay of Connections Governance Group. He will represent the Eastern Bay of Plenty economic development agency Toi-EDA. The second appointment is Andrea (Andy) Blair, who works for GNS Science, and will represent the Taupo district.
Established in 2008, Bay of Connections is the industry-led growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty region.
It is driven by a commercially-focussed Governance Group that represents Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo and Western Bay of Plenty, in partnership with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the region's economic development agencies.
The Governance Group is supported by a management group and six sector groups which are developing and implementing strategies targeting aquaculture, forestry, freight logistics, energy, Maori development and sport and recreation.
Knighted earlier this year, Sir Michael was a Labour MP for nearly 30 years and held various positions during that time including Attorney-General, Treaty Negotiations Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister in the Clark government from 1999 to 2008. He was instrumental in the establishment of KiwiSaver.
Sir Michael retired from Parliament in 2009. Following that he was appointed by the National Government to the board of NZ Post and is now its chairman. He is also a negotiator for Tuwharetoa. Sir Michael, who started his political career in Dunedin, now lives in Ohope.
Ms Blair is the Geothermal Business Development Manager for GNS Science. Originally trained in Forestry Science and involved in forest management planning and operations, she also has experience in the tourism sector, having worked as general manager of a tourism transport business and chief executive of a skydiving operation.
Ms Blair has managed geothermal geoscience projects in New Zealand and overseas including in Indonesia, Chile, Papua New Guinea, Australia, the Pacific Islands and the Philippines.
A current board member of Taupo's economic development group Enterprise Great Lake Taupo, she is also deputy chairwoman for Destination Great Lake Taupo and is on the steering committee for New Zealand's geothermal export agency Geothermal NZ.
Bay of Connections Governance Group Chair John Cronin has welcomed the two new appointments.
"We are working very hard to ensure the region's economic growth through strategic collaboration and connections. To ensure our success we need people with experience, passion and commitment," he says.
"It's great to have people of Sir Michael's and Ms Blair's calibre on board. They bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge, which will add greatly to the work we do.
"We've made some great gains and there is still a lot of work to be done but with support across all sectors in the region, we are confident we will achieve the growth we seek," Mr Cronin says.