Anna McElrea

Senior Consultant

I support and assist councils and other entities to administer parks and reserves. Our shared goal is to protect, enhance and activate our public open space network in partnership with mana whenua and local communities.

I help them to meet capacity issues with critical work programmes and projects, and provide independent expert advice on parks and reserve planning matters.

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My expertise

Working in outdoor and open space planning takes everyone involved on a fascinating journey. I started out as a sea kayaking and glacier guide before travelling overseas to teach English.

My passion for the outdoors led me to working in Long Term Plan business cases, reserve management plans, concept plans, bylaws and policies, assessing complex concession and resource consent applications and leading reserve acquisition, development and operational projects.

I had the privilege of making a difference for Waipā District Council, Auckland Council, Auckland Regional Council and Franklin District Council. This work focused on regional parks, local parks, sportsfields, cemeteries, conservation reserves and the Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains) of Tāmaki Makaurau.


  • Masters in Resource and Environmental Planning (1st Class Hons), Massey University
  • Certificate in Outdoor Recreation, Whenua Iti Outdoor Pursuits Centre and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
  • Bachelor of Science (Double Maj in Ecology and Physical Geography), Otago University
  • Ongoing learning of te reo Māori and better understanding of tikanga Māori

Xyst in action

We handle many challenging projects at Xyst, finding simple, practical and achievable solutions for complex problems. One such project was processing applications to close multiple reserve parcels and grant an easement for a major pipeline upgrade in Porirua, New Zealand.

Working closely with the applicant and the Council’s Reserves Team enabled us to understand the community’s concerns and aspirations. The outcome aimed to ensure the applicant submitted comprehensive applications to undertake the enabling and construction works in a way that responded to community concerns and aspirations, while protecting the reserves’ many values.


My Projects

Open Space Strategy

Working closely with Kapiti Coast District Council and in partnership with iwi, Xyst developed a Strategy to safeguard and guide the provision of open space

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