August 20, 2019
“The time has come for Manfeild Park to take its rightful place as a leading sports and events facility in the lower North Island”.
This from Kathy Gibson, a Manawatu corporate and community identity announced by Manfeild Park Board of Trustees today as the Feilding amenity’s incoming chief executive officer, from September 30.
Mrs Gibson needs no persuading about the Feilding multi-event centre’s status as a vital regional facility – she’s long been something of a ‘super fan’.
Manfeild was championed during her recent tenure as chief executive of Special Olympics New Zealand. An earlier six-year period holding the same position with Destination Manawatu saw her push the facility’s international motorsport promise from a petrolhead perspective. She also engaged with Manfeild Park Trust’s formation in 2004. And, of course, for the past nine months she has been a member of the Manfeild Park Trust board.
Her career background is valued in ongoing development and elevating recognition of the venue’s core assets – Manfeild Stadium, the world-famous Circuit Chris Amon and the National Drive Training Centre.
All offer fantastic ongoing opportunity says a Rongotea woman who, having come from a community-minded family, had service installed at an early age. Her father, Des Black, was a former mayor of Palmerston North.
“The external connections I have made will be invaluable to secure new events business for Manfeild and to establish the right connections for the National Driver Training Centre (NDTC).
Recently-secured Government funding for NDTC – which started with a primary aim to equip school age drivers with licences before they enter the workforce but is now encompassing training to operate trucks and specialist machinery – opens the door to significant opportunity for the wider region, she says.
As a Board trustee she has been intimately involved in NDTC’s early planning process.
“This means that I can pick up the pace with the key individuals at Government level quickly and also progress dialogue with industry and schools.”
Reflecting that her remit is wide, she adds: “I am also excited to expand the major events we currently hold at Manfeild – particularly in agriculture, equestrian and motorsport.”
While having enjoyed experience working in a diversity of roles – a senior position with Marac Corporation, four years in London as New Zealand Trade Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland – she is delighted and proud to call Manawatu home.
“I have been working outside the region, in the sports and events sector and with central Government for the last 10 years.
“I have had considerable success in securing new funding in my previous roles (and) I really enjoy the fundraising space.
“More importantly I have the ability to foster and strengthen key relationships that will certainly help the financial side of Manfeild Park moving forward.”
The strength of the current Board and its robust relationship with the Manawatu District and Palmerston North City councils encouraged her to take up this position. Manfeild having a number of trump cards not held by other large event venues also figured in her thinking.
“A great foundation has been established by my predecessors but we must not rest on our laurels.”
Ongoing progress remains vital. “The national events space is very competitive. We need to use our strengths to bring more business into Feilding and the wider Manawatu.
“I know many of the strengths and weaknesses of other venues but in sourcing new business I am also mindful that collaborative work is essential”.
Manfeild Board of Trustees Chair Gordon Smith congratulated Mrs Gibson on achieving this position.
“We completed a robust recruitment process. Mrs Gibson has excellent skills in event management, sports and commerce and holds a BSc and Post Graduate Diplomas in Investment and Finance and Business Administration. She has excellent relationships with local and central Government.”
Mrs Gibson replaces Julie Keane, who departed Manfeild in May after four years as CEO.