Environment Southland's Lucy Hicks is one of the members of the new Taituarā Resource Management Reform Reference Group. In this profile she tells us about some of the work she feels most passionate about as Policy and Planning Manager in a huge region encompassing such pristine jewels as Fiordland and Rakiura Stewart Island. She shares a tool for juggling competing demands as well as her inspiration for getting into local government. She also shares some favourite local spots and activities to chill out away from work at lunchtimes and at weekends.

Tell us about your role at Environment Southland

I am the Policy and Planning Manager at Environment Southland. The job is definitely a broad role that has responsibility for a wide array of projects and people, mostly working on RMA plans and their development but with some extra bits and pieces like Transport Planning and Hazard Management thrown in too.

Can you tell us about some of your current projects which you are particularly excited about?

It is really hard to pick just one or two specific things that are exciting at the moment! It’s fair to say that the sector is going through – what I’m told – is one of the most significant periods of change in the last 30 years and I find that really exciting to be a part of.

If I was pushed to be more explicit I’d say point to two of the big projects me and my team currently are working on:

  1. The review of our Regional Coastal Plan is a really exciting project that is in its final stages i.e. provisions are being drafted. Southland has the longest coast in NZ and we are privileged to have the jewels of both Fiordland and Rakiura to provide protection for. Combined with the increasing interest in domestic cruising and possible aquaculture advancements it’s a great space to be working in right now.
  2. The implementation of the National Policy Statement Freshwater Management is also a really interesting project we are traversing. A few years' back a partnership project, People Water and Land Programme was established, between the Council and iwi to contribute to the task of setting freshwater limits. This work has advanced to a point where a set of combined, draft freshwater values and objectives have been jointly agreed by Council and our iwi partners and define what Te Mana o Te Wai means for Southland Murihuki. This is one of the first places in the country this has been achieved and it to is great to be a part of.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

Juggling and recruiting!! There is so much on and there has been for the three and a bit years I’ve been in the role, so just keeping our heads above it all can be a plate-spinning endeavour. That combined with the wide spread shortage of planning expertise means I spend time triaging and prioritising the work we have on to ensure none of my team get swamped. Thank goodness for tools like the Eisenhower Matrix!

Why did you decide to work in local government?

I’ve worked in local government since even before I graduated. My Dad was a lifelong public servant and I remember as soon as I got a taste for it I could see why. My first roles were in community development and I was struck by the opportunities we have every day to influence and help people and the environment and I was totally hooked.

In what ways have you been involved with Taituarā so far? 

My first exposure to Taituarā was the opportunity to attend their conference a couple of years ago in Queenstown which was fantastic! More recently I have been appointed to the newly established Resource Management Reform Reference Group (RMRG) – which I’m stoked about!

When you are not working, what do you enjoy about living in Southland? 

I like being able to get out into nature whenever I can and we’ve got some great tracks and trails that are easily accessible from my office. A lunchtime run (come rain or shine) along the Waihopai River is a great head-clearer! At the weekends it’s all about my family -  I have 2 sons under 4 so lots of biking, trips to the beach or the park. Queens Park is a fantastic asset and we spend a lot of time at the aviary and animal reserve there.

Here are some recent pieces of work Lucy has been involved with: