Helena Williams is Manager Venues and Events at New Plymouth District Council. In this profile she tells us about projects she's excited about such as Lorde coming to the Bowl of Brooklands, waste and event sustainability, the Give a Shit campaign, and lots more amazing stuff that her team is doing. She also talks about the places she loves in Taranaki: the Coastal Walkway, beautiful black sand beaches, food truck delicacies at the Seaside Market, and of course their magnificent maunga.
Tell us about your role at New Plymouth District Council
As Manager Venues and Events I have the privilege of overseeing the amazing teams that look after our venues (TSB Showplace, TSB Stadium, Bowl of Brooklands and the operations of Yarrow Stadium) our Todd Energy Aquatic Centre and four seasonal community pools, and the Events team that brings to life the famous TSB Festival of Lights and support Host City events such as the Oxfam trail walk, which raised a record $1.2 million for its fight against poverty in its first year here this year. Our events and venues are at the hearts of New Plymouth District Council’s goal of building a Sustainable Lifestyle Capital, with the Bowl of Brooklands alone bringing in 60,000 people to a stunning line-up of concerts over the last summer season.
Can you tell us about some of your current projects which you are particularly excited about?
Oh my Lorde yes! Kiwi superstar Lorde is going to be just one highlight of another awesome summer at the Bowl of Brooklands when she plays there in March next year and the annual TSB Festival of Lights promises to be another success with 44 summer nights of entertainment and a range of all-new installations to illuminate Pukekura Park, the jewel in our crown. We are also excited to continue the work we are doing on event sustainability as a result of the New Plymouth District Council 2019 Waste Minimisation Bylaw. Last summer concert season, as a result of our efforts, we diverted 92 per cent of public waste into recycling – only 900kg of the 12,000kg of waste ended up going to the landfill.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Our team is dedicated to their work which straddles worlds of the arts, community events, professional sport and commercial entertainment. It’s a fast-paced and changing environment, particularly at the moment when we need to be ready with plans A, B and C if Alert Levels change so it’s important to keep on top of a healthy work-life balance so they can stay on top of their game.
Why did you decide to work in local government?
I’m not afraid of some hard mahi and I love that all that hard work makes our district more prosperous, sustainable and vibrant for the community that chooses to make it home.
In what ways have you been involved with Taituarā so far?
Coming from the Marcomms Operational lead role it was fantastic connecting with other local government professionals around what they were doing to try and shift the apathy of voters during elections, such as New Plymouth District Council’s Give a Shit campaign which raised a few eyebrows, but arguably slowed the fall in voter turnout during an election when we were first moving to the single transferrable vote (STV) system. We’re always looking to connect with them in personal for professional development. Being new to Events and Venues in future connecting with others in the Events and Venues local government community and growing knowledge of local government and its community impacts.
When you are not working, what do you enjoy about living in New Plymouth?
New Plymouth District is all about the unique Taranaki Lifestyle delivered with big-city style, with our vibrant arts scene and cosmopolitan café and dining culture, not to mention our stunning parks and walkways, including the award-winning Coastal Walkway, our surf beaches and our glorious maunga. On the weekend (when we are not in full event mode) you’ll usually find me with a beer in hand, drone fishing off one of our beautiful black sand beaches, scoffing some food truck delicacies at the Seaside Market or attending one of the amazing events our teams here at New Plymouth District Council bring to life!