The Art of Adaptation: Meet Tom Fitzgerald - Adaptation Plan Project Lead

WRLC’s Communications Advisor Freda Wells recently sat down to chat with Tom FitzGerald, to learn a bit more about him and his work. Tom recently joined the Wellington Regional Leadership Committee’s work programme as: Project Lead – Regional Adaptation Plan.

The purpose of the Regional Adaptation Project (RAP) is to come up with a mechanism or set of actions that can help us best position ourselves to deal with the current and future impacts of a changing climate. The RAP will identify the innovations and changes that need to be made to make better decisions and increase the resilience of our people, the things we value, our environment and the economy. 

Tom FitzGerald

Tom FitzGerald

Project Lead - Regional Adaptation Plan

Q: Congratulations on your new role!  We’d love to get to know you. Where do you mihi to, and what are your stand-out memories from your early years there?

Tom: I mihi to Seatoun Pari-whero. I grew up with a view of the harbour, watching the weather change and adapting my daily choices to suit. I’m pretty sure I’ve evolved a lean for walking into a stiff southerly!

Above: Seatoun Beach, Pōneke Wellington

Q. Do you have a favourite motto for life?

Is #adaptordie too grim?
I’m a fan of “there’s nothing constant but change”.

Q: What inspired you to take this role?

For me, the role here was a chance to try and advance the climate adaptation practice in NZ, connect planning with action and do it in my hometown, my turangawaewae.

Q: Tell us about the Regional Adaptation Project – what you’re up to and what people can look out for.

I’m going to take some time at the outset to build relationships, canvas the wants and needs and then scope up a regional approach to climate adaptation that actually means something and can be used.

Q: What factors do you think will be critical to the success of the Regional Adaptation Plan project?

Managing expectations, relationships and embedding adaptation action into BAU, our daily lives.

Q: What are we already doing well in terms of adaptation in our region and in New Zealand?

Adaptation manifests in a multitude of places, from our management of flood hazards to the way we promote sustainable building design and connect with each other. We still have a lot of work to do – adaptation is not a ‘one and done’ thing, it’s ongoing, and in some cases is merely a step in the right direction. We may need to transform many of our systems to cope with the effects of a changing climate.

NZ is a small place, we have no reason not to be better connected – learn, share, care and support each other to always strive for better.

Q: Who have been your mentors or inspirations in your career?

Emeritus Professor Bruce Thom for his persistence in translating knowledge into better public policy and decision-making. Professor Pat Hesp for his ability to turn first year geography topics like the rock cycle into memorable first-year student relevant analogies and forging a path communicating with purpose and humour.

All of my sisters for carving out careers whilst raising families, railing against systemic bias and keeping me sane.

Wellington Regional Leadership Committee

100 Cuba Street, Wellington
New Zealand

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