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The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Chair and Deputy Chair, signalling a new era of leadership and stewardship for New Zealand’s first UNESCO Global Geopark. After four years of dedicated service, Helen Jansen has stepped down from her role as Chair, having played a pivotal role in the successful UNESCO designation of Waitaki Whitestone Geopark earlier this year. The Trust would like to express its gratitude to Helen for her passion, dedication, and exceptional contributions to the Geopark's growth and development. She will remain as a Trustee on the Board.

Rachel Plieger, a dedicated advocate for the geopark and a respected member of the community, has been appointed as the new Chair of the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust. Rachel has over 25 years' experience in legal and risk roles in the financial services industry, having recently returned home to Oamaru. "Following on from its recent UNESCO designation, this is a super exciting time for the Geopark and I'm excited to be part of the team working to unlock it's potential. I am confident that we can make mana whenua and people of all of the communities in the Waitaki Region proud to call the Geopark home."

Additionally, Tk Buchanan, one of the Te Rūnanga o Moeraki representatives on the Trust, has been appointed as the new Deputy Chair. Tk brings with him 10 years’ experience in business development and account management and 5 years’ governance experience with Te Rūnanga o Moeraki. “I am enjoying my contribution to the Geopark, and I look forward to developing the new Deputy Chair role and it’s function for the trust.”

The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust is further strengthened by its diverse and accomplished board of nine members, representing a wide range of skills and backgrounds that reflect the multifaceted nature of the Geopark. The board includes one representative from the Waitaki District Council, two representatives from Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, and individuals with expertise in geotourism, international marketing, UNESCO Global Geoparks, land ownership, legal matters, central government affairs, and community and local perspectives. Additionally, an advisory trustee with a strong history to Vanished World, the organisation that played a pivotal role in the inception of the Geopark, provides valuable insights and guidance as the Geopark progresses.

Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trustees during the UNESCO cerebration in May 2023.

[from left to right] Mauriri McGlinchey, Rachel Plieger (Chair), Brett Hudson, Melanie Jones, Tim Blackler, Helen Jansen, Tk Buchanan (Deputy Chair). Trustees missing are Ross Dowling and Grant Neal.

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