John Gibbs

John Gibbs departs the commission after 10 years

Our Bay of Plenty Regional Field Advisor, John Gibbs (Gibby) is retiring from the commission after a decade with us. He’s excited to retire and “spend more time fishing, if the weather’s any good."

We asked if he had any highlights representing the commission over the decade, “the team of people I’ve worked with”, he says. “The team has always held the same values. It’s been great to have such a committed, common purpose and share a very collegial approach to our work."

He joined the team shortly after the commission’s inception and was an important member in developing public awareness of the commission, what we do and the value of public access in Aotearoa New Zealand.

His favourite place to walk is the Mokaihaha Ecological Area in Rotorua. It’s an area in the Bay of Plenty with lots of biodiversity and recreational value. Plus it has a managed population of the extremely rare Kōkako. His help here created an opportunity for people coming from the Waikato side of the North Island to access the forest – this side had been previously blocked off by private land. Mokaihaha is now a popular recreational hunting and tramping area of public land. But it had very limited access previously.

Since Gibby has been with us, he’s noticed a significant drop off in access disputes. There was a build-up of access disputes when he started around legal roads, locked gates and landowner access but “currently I don’t think I have one.” Thanks to Gibby and rest of the team, these disputes have been largely resolved. Growing awareness of public rights and responsibilities means there are fewer issues and more public access. The commission is “as much an advocate for landowners as we are for public access” and the lack of current disputes reflects this.

We wish John the best on his future adventures and thank him for being such a valuable and significant part of the team. Lauren Schick will be taking over as the Regional Field Advisor for the Bay of Plenty region from early August.