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Our people and their mahi

14 Nov 2018

Our people and their mahi

Esta Kowhai 01

In the latest of a series profiling our people, we talk to senior consents officer Esta Kowhai about helping customers through the resource consent process . . .

What is your job and what does it involve?

I’m a resource consent planner. At the moment rather than processing consent applications my main role is duty planner which involves customer engagement. 

I help customers with their planning enquiries, provide advice on the District Plan and the application process. I also check building consent applications for compliance with the District Plan.

My work supports other areas of Council such as applications for Land Information Memorandum (LIMs), event applications, alcohol licences and organising pre-application meetings.

What do you enjoy about the job?

I enjoy working with the public and helping people navigate the process and supporting them by providing the necessary advice and information.  It’s good to know what development is happening around our district. I enjoy working in the community I come from in an industry that considers the effects of development on our local environment.

I also enjoy being part of the consents team, they are all pretty cool people.

 What are the challenges of the job?

It’s very busy, with lots of different time frames. Being the duty planner you can’t forecast when it’s going to be busy so time management is important. It’s challenging to deliver what could be perceived as a negative, like why people need to apply for resource consent for their project. 

How could the public make it easier for you to get the job done?

If people knew that needing a resource consent doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t do what they’re proposing to do. It just means Council needs to assess the effects of the proposal on the environment.  I’m here to help people, I’ll guide them and interpret the District Plan for them and advise whether a resource consent is needed and the next steps – it’s definitely not to intentionally be a party pooper. 

When the District Plan comes up for review, people can submit their opinions on what should be amended, deleted or added to the plan. This would help ensure the plan continues to be a community document that reflects the development outcomes the community wants for our district. 

How do you like to spend your time out of the Council?

I am a mum of two young kids (2 and 6) so they keep me pretty busy.  I am also the president of Gisborne Community Early Childcare Centre which has just undergone major renovations.  If I actually have any free time I’ll catch up with whanau and friends.