Karen Blair - NZPI Distinguished Service Award


We always had our suspicions that Karen Blair was a bit of rockstar in the planning world, and our suspicions were confirmed on the 17th of November 2020 when after an almost 30-year career she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI).


A Principal Planning and Policy Consultant in our Auckland office, Karen currently works part-time with us, and it's safe to say she is a mentor, esteemed colleague and trusted advisor to all of our team. However, only working part-time, meant that when it came down to planning a surprise morning tea so NZPI could present her with the award, we had to come up with something a little bit tricky to get her into the office.


Under the clever guise of an "urgent meeting" we managed to lure her in, and boy was she surprised to be greeted by her colleagues, clients, friends, and the NZPI when she came through the front door.


Throughout the morning people could not praise Karen enough for all she has done and contributed to New Zealand's planning industry, and to further elaborate on this, we have included the official citation from the NZPI below as to why Karen is so deserving of this award:


Karen is a highly experienced and widely respected planning professional. In a planning career spanning almost 30 years, Karen has consistently demonstrated comprehensive understanding and competency in all aspects of resource management.


This foundation as an all rounder coupled with astute analytical skills enables Karen to maintain attention to detail while not losing sight of strategic vision. Her clarity of thought and pragmatism allow her to work effectively with a range of parties with different interests to identify and manage expectations and achieve suitable outcomes. In this manner, Karen has widely influenced planning policy frameworks at a national, regional, and local level, often complimented by clients and councils for clear and comprehensive responses.


Karen has managed many large and complex consenting projects in a professional and efficient manner, leaving everyone involved with a positive impression of planners and respect for the planning system and profession. Clients appreciate her knowledge and effective strategic approach to issues that is conveyed in a way that adds value and results in better outcomes for both client and the environment.


An NZPI member since 1994, Karen has proven herself to be a credit to the institute, always finding time to input to NZPI submissions, pass on her strong professional ethics and knowledge to others, or to support colleagues obtaining NZPI membership. Karen has long held the view that the success and failure of the RMA is really dependent upon the quality of planning practise. As a consequence, Karen has focussed on setting high standards herself and fostering the same in others, including nationally through her work with MfE. Karen applies standards to which we should all aspire.


Karen was instrumental to the successful operation of Burton Planning Consultants for some 20 years and at 4Sight Consulting continues to be a highly valued colleague, mentor, project team member, and advisor to fellow professionals and clients. Her outgoing personality and enthusiasm for her work are infectious and she is generous in sharing her experiences and time. In this way, Karen's influence extends much further than the specific projects she has worked on and has positively shaped planning practise, a topic on which she was again recently sought out by MfE in relation to.


Karen's expertise has had significant positive impact on the New Zealand planning environment for many years and no doubt will continue to do so for many more years to come. Karen is a worthy recipient of the NZPI's Distinguished Service Award.


We are incredibly proud of all you have achieved Karen and on behalf of the whole team, we would like to congratulate you again for all your efforts. We cannot think of anyone more deserving than you and we look forward to seeing what other interesting planning insights you will bring to the table in the years to come.