The Workforce Reference Group identifies local government present and future workforce needs, and develops guidance and/or solutions so chief executives can meet those needs cost-effectively.

Call for nominations

Are you passionate about building a resilient local government workforce and improving our sector's reputation as a desirable place to work and build a career? We are currently looking for enthusiastic local government professionals to join the Workforce Reference Group. Find out the full details here.


  • Monitor the environment within which local authorities operate and provide the Chief Executive with timely advice on issues that fall within its scope.
  • Provide sound strategic advice on Taituarā learning and development and recruitment and retention activities.
  • Stay informed of, and advise on the skill and capability issues raised in the work of other reference groups.
  • Operate, at all times, in accordance with effective and prudent commercial practice.
  • Build effective working relationships with other sector organisations (e.g. EquiP and the New Zealand Planning Institute) and private sector providers.

View/download the Workforce Reference Group Terms of Reference

Current Members


Gavin Ion, Chief Executive - Waikato District Council


Jane Aiken, Head of Capability Group Services Directorate, Auckland Council

Meredith Blackler, Chief People Officer, Wellington City Council

Anastasia Hildred, Capability Team Leader, Waikato District Council

Trudi Hurst, Group Manager - Community Engagement & Corporate Services, Invercargill City Council

Adrienne Martin, People & Capability Manager, Central Hawkes Bay District Council

Jan Pedersen, Head of People, Performance & Culture, Tauranga City Council

Leonie Randall, People & Capability Partner, Marlborough District Council

Frances Smorti, General Manager – People & Corporate, Manawatu District Council

2019/20 Report from the Workforce Reference Group

Louise Miller, Chief Executive, Kaipara District Council

The last year has been one of transition for the Workforce Reference Group, not least due to the impetus of COVID-19 and how that accelerated our new ways of thinking, engaging and delivering support to the sector. 

Early in the year we came together to redesign our work programme based on practical support and capacity building for those working in, or having an interest in, workforce issues. We took what was working, carried forward some key projects like the Workforce Toolkit, and identified some new ideas – the key being we wanted to be flexible and informal. During the year we have utilised the skills and experience of the group and our contacts to try to create a responsive and agile approach to support the sector.

I am extremely grateful to this reference group and the Taituarã team, who have been willing and able to put ideas out and trial different approaches quickly – with the knowledge we wouldn’t always have a perfect model to begin with, but that it can be refined in time. A great example of this is the videos on Whakaaro Pai and, more recently, the workshop sessions the team have run on this platform, sharing their stories candidly. Similarly, the creation of Staffshare is an initiative allowing councils to share any extra capacity in their teams or to fill resource gaps in a way that benefits the sector. An overarching theme of this working party is that we are proud to work in the public sector and hope to share that passion with others.

This reference group isn’t seeking to give the sector one particular solution. Instead we are about understanding the pain points many of us share in our workforce space, providing strength through collaboration, and facilitating others to find their best solution through guidance, support and toolkits.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to chair such a forward thinking, enthusiastic group, ably supported by the Taituarã team which has allowed us to have fresh ideas and trial new things. I would like to thank all the current members for their enthusiasm and commitment to supporting Taituarã work over the last year.

The members of the Workforce Reference Group are:

Richard Bird, Rotorua Lakes Council

Susan Jones, Gore District Council

Frances Smorti, Manawatū District Council

Ian Maxwell, Auckland Council

Wendell D’Cunha, Auckland Council

This year we have also been supported by a number of chief executives and I would like to acknowledge their contribution too:

Jo Miller, Hutt City Council

Monique Davidson, Central Hawkes Bay District Council

Tanya Winter, Ōtorohanga District Council