Sir Brian Elwood
“The Manawatu in general, and Palmerston North in particular, gave me the opportunity to be myself and take advantage of the doors that opened for my varied career to emerge. I had opportunities and the courage to embrace them. Not once did where I came from disadvantage me – in fact, being from what was seen as a “Provincial” City with a University connection seemed to be an advantage. I have been lucky, but remain at heart, a loyal Palmerstonian.”
Sir Brian George Conway Elwood, CBE JP, is a former New Zealand lawyer, politician, and public servant. He served as Mayor of Palmerston North from 1971 to 1985 and was the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand from December 1994 to June 2003. In the latter role, he was responsible for investigating complaints against central and local government agencies, including Ministers of the Crown.
Sir Brian was first elected to the Palmerston North City Council City Council in 1968 and became the mayor 1971 to 1985. He was an executive member of the Municipal Association of New Zealand from 1974 to 1985, and president of the association from 1976 to 1979. Other positions were chairman of the Manawatu United Council, member of the Wellington Harbour Board, Commissioner for the Wellington Area Health Board and a member of the Massey University Council.
Sir Brian was Chairman of the Local Government Commission from 1 April 1985 to 1 November 1992. In 1989 this commission undertook a major review of local government in New Zealand reducing the number of councils from more than 800 to fewer than 100.
Sir Brian was appointed an ombudsman in November 1992, and Chief Ombudsman in December 1994, holding this position until June 2003. He was elected annually as the President of the IOI on three occasions from 1999 to 2002. As President of the IOI his advice has been sought by many countries around the world.
In 2008 Elwood was chairman of the Waterview Connection Procurement Steering Group, reviewing the feasibility of making a proposed State Highway extension in Auckland a public/private partnership (PPP). The Steering Group’s work was praised as providing a model for future PPP projects.
Sir Brian’s career in public service extended over 35 years and during 30 of those he headed the organisations with which he was associated. He has gained international recognition in local government reform and ombudsmanship.
His career ended in 2015 at the age of 82 with his retirement as Chair of the Board of Kiwifruit New Zealand for 11 years and in the same year as the Chair of The Central Energy Trust. He was subsequently awarded the Hayward Medal for outstanding leadership to the Kiwi Fruit Industry.