Thursday, 27 February 2020


A new manager for Whitianga Social Services

The Whitianga Community Services Trust (WCST), better known as Whitianga Social Services, has a new manager. Funding coordinator, Peter van der Putten and treasurer, Lydia Anthony assumed responsibility for management of the organisation after Jenny Wolf, the previous manager, resigned towards the end of last year.

New manager, Brett Barnham calls Whitianga home. “Growing up my family moved around a lot,” he says. “My grandfather lived in Whitianga and the town was to a large extent my ‘anchor,’ for lack of a better word. I’ve never attended Mercury Bay Area School, but did go to Whenuakite School for a few years.”

Brett started his working life in the New Zealand armed forces and has also been part of the Australian Army for a few years. After returning to New Zealand, he has held a number of managerial roles, including at a not-for-profit organisation outside National Park on the Central Plateau of the North Island. He resigned as a regional manager at food safety and biosecurity company, AsureQuality to take up his new role with WCST on Monday last week.

“My wife, Kristina is a resource consent planner with Thames Coromandel District Council,” says Brett. “We have three boys - ranging between eight and 14 years of age - and they all three are students at MBAS. I was a Department of Conservation ranger in Whitianga before I started working for AsureQuality. I was based in Hamilton, but Kristina and our boys stayed in Whitianga. I commuted for more than two years before my job was structured so that I could work from Whitianga. I nevertheless still had to be away from home quite a lot and when I saw that WCST was looking for a new manager, the decision to apply wasn’t difficult.”

WCST provides a variety of services to those members of the Mercury Bay community who need a helping hand - from in-home support for the elderly and budgeting advice to counselling and social work support for at-risk young people and those experiencing difficulties in their family relationships. The organisation also provides a foodbank and transport for people who need to attend appointments at Thames and Waikato Hospitals and runs an OSCAR after school and holiday care programme for school students.

WCST is funded through government contracts, grants from a variety of funders, community donations and two op-shops.

“We were very pleased to welcome Brett into our organisation,” says Christine Bowering, deputy chair of the WCST Board. “We’re confident that with Brett at the helm, WCST will continue to meet the needs of our growing community and to provide top-class service.”

Brett says WCST’s community focus is of real appeal to him. “I would like to live in a community where everyone has the support to handle the curve balls life may throw at them,” he says. “I’m immensely proud to think that I will be able to help to achieve that. Jenny Wolf has done a great job raising the profile of WSS and has developed many valuable relationships in the Mercury Bay community, within government and with other organisations providing the same services further afield.

“I also want to focus on the wellbeing of all the staff and all the volunteers who are helping us. I want all of those who associate with WSS to be happy and to be safe in the knowledge that they are as important to me as the community we serve.”

Caption - Brett Barnham took up his new role as manager of Whitianga Social Services on Monday last week.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.