Waitaki App

New Geopark manager excited about 'incredible opportunity'

Waitaki App

Staff Reporter

16 April 2024, 3:14 AM

New Geopark manager excited about 'incredible opportunity' New Waitaki Whitestone Geopark manager Lynley Browne (left) and Geopark educator Sasha Morriss at the limestone dykes on Chelmer Street. Photo: Supplied

A new general manager has been appointed for the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust.

Lynley Browne has moved south from Auckland to replace Lisa Heinz, who has shifted to Wellington.

Lynley's role is to lead the trust in exploring commercial opportunities, developing and strengthening partnerships, and building the profile of Waitaki Whitestone UNESCO Global Geopark.

She grew up in Christchurch and has strong connections to Otago. 

Lynley says it is a privilege to be appointed to the role and she is looking forward to contributing her skills and experience.

In the past Lynley has held senior management and consultancy roles within New Zealand universities, with Plant & Food Research, and other organisations within the agriculture, horticulture and science sectors.

She has also been involved in international collaborations and Government missions and contributed her expertise to a multi-year New Zealand aid project in Vietnam prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lynley was officially welcomed to her new role on the Moeraki Marae last month and says it was a proud and special moment for her.

“This role is unique. It brings together my passion for the environment, sustainable tourism and economic development, and my commitment to partnering with others to achieve goals in this area. 

“Our partnership with Te Rūnanga o Moeraki as Mana Whenua is essential, and we continue to build relationships with owners and farmers, wine and food producers, universities here and abroad, those involved in the tourism sector, conservation agencies, our dedicated volunteer community, and many others.

“It is an incredible opportunity to be able to build on the outstanding work done by so many over the years to get the Geopark to the position it is in today,” she says.

Lynley joins Rachel Plieger, who has recently returned to her hometown Ōamaru from the United Kingdom, and was named new chair of the Geopark Trust in November last year. 

It is an exciting time for the trust, which is focused on exploring its role as kaitiaki of the Geopark and achieving some ambitious conservation and economic goals, Rachel says.

‘We’re very pleased to have Lynley joining this mahi. 

“Confirmation of our UNESCO accreditation in 2023 provides a platform for us to build on the opportunities that exist to serve our local communities, support our landowners, elevate our Geopark in a global context and share our stories with the world.”

UNESCO New Zealand National Commission secretary general Vicki Soanes says the organisation is delighted to welcome Lynley to the role. 

“When the National Commission established the UNESCO Geopark programme in New Zealand, it recognised the importance of consistent strong leadership, and I am delighted that this will continue with Lynley’s appointment.”

Lynley has been living and working in Auckland for many years but leapt at the chance to return to the South Island.

“Growing up in Christchurch, we had many family holidays in Otago and further south, and I have always felt a strong connection to this part of the world. 

“I am really enjoying being in Ōamaru and exploring the diverse Waitaki region and have found the local community to be very friendly and welcoming.”

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says the importance of the Geopark to the Waitaki region can’t be underestimated.

“It is central to our efforts to boost tourism and become a community that is committed to sustainable tourism, as well as the Geopark helping to tell our stories to locals and visitors alike. 

“I’m excited to see the Geopark Trust setting big goals for the future and will do all I can to support the trust and assist with the fundraising to achieve those goals.”