Horizons farewells valued river management staff member

Horizons Regional Council is farewelling a valued river management staff member after 37 years of service dedicated to protecting communities and responding to flood events.

Horizons group manager catchment operations Dr Jon Roygard says Ian McMahon joined the Catchment Board, which later became the regional council, in August 1985 as an engineering assistant.

“During his time with us Ian has predominantly worked on Horizons’ Lower Manawatū Scheme, which offers flood protection to approximately 320km2 of land from Ashhurst to the sea,” says Dr Roygard.

“This included two stints as area engineer which saw him oversee key upgrades for the scheme and gain a team of staff who he mentored. While he eventually decided to take a step back from the formal management side of things, Ian has continued to be an extremely valuable source of guidance for our river management staff – to the point that when he started making noises about retiring a few years ago we worked hard to convince him to stay in the role to continue his work and training our team.  

“The wealth of knowledge Ian holds for the lower Manawatū area is extensive and his commitment to doing the best for our communities is admirable. An example of this is when he spent five months after the February 2004 floods working over 12 hour days, 7 days a week, to ensure that all emergency repairs were made to protect people and property.”

When asked why he stayed with Horizons for so long, Ian McMahon says he felt the responsibility of providing flood protection to the community and that it was rewarding work.

“Highlights of my career include being one of only five people who have had the opportunity to manage the Lower Manawatū Scheme in its 65 year existence,” says Mr McMahon.

“I’m proud to have been part of the team responsible for the upgrades that provide 500 year protection for Palmerston North and 100 year protection for the rural community. My working career has been very interesting and our work is generally really appreciated by the community.

“Horizons has been so supportive of me throughout the years and I’ve found it to have a great culture overall. I encourage anyone planning a career in the environmental or engineering space to consider the council as an employer, it’s somewhere you’ll always be given opportunities to upskill and advance.”

Dr Roygard says while Ian will be missed, he leaves behind a legacy in the staff he has trained and work completed.

“On the behalf of Horizons, and the communities that he has served so faithfully, I’d like to thank Ian for his dedication to the region and wish him all the best for his retirement.” 

Photo: Ōroua River following flood flows in April 2022 – this debris being surveyed by Mr McMahon was a result of high flows collecting dead wood on the river banks and was cleared by Horizons after the event.