Chris Rutherford


I founded Xyst in 2002 with a desire to establish a parks and community facilities company that could both meet the needs of local government and also provide an alternative safe and happy workplace for colleagues needing to take time out from the demands of local government. Since then we have grown the company to the scale it is today. 

I strive to be the best I can and to support those around me to be the best version of themselves and to make a difference to our public parks and facilities. As a Director I am proud of our company culture, our move to offer opportunities to graduates, our engagement with our professional body, the recognition and awards my colleagues have achieved and the long serving nature of many of our team. Seeing staff members move to becoming shareholders of our company fills me with pride and excitement for the future.

I strive to treat people in a way that I would like to be treated and encourage the team to be the best they can be.

It’s been an amazing role for 22+ years with Xyst, seeing it grow and flourish based on a mix of the quality of the work we produce and importantly the wonderful people who have joined the Xyst team. Being at work has been a pleasure.

From mid 2024 my operational leadership role will conclude as I move into a project-focused role, enabling me to have some time away from work exploring the world beyond work. I remain a Director and advocate for our fantastic company.

My expertise

I have always had a passion for the outdoors, starting my career as a gardener undertaking the first part of an apprenticeship in amenity horticulture while working as part of an arborist team. I went on to study arboriculture in 1979 when the industry was at its infancy in the United Kingdom. Later I studied recreation management at Loughborough University, United Kingdom.

My work is founded on a deep passion for the outdoors. I have always had a love of gardens, trees and public spaces for recreation, and have enjoyed competitive sport for my entire life. I bring this to work with me every day.


  • Diploma in Recreational Management (ILAM Diploma), Loughborough University
  • Royal Forestry Society Certificate in Arboriculture
  • National Certificate in Horticulture (Arboriculture), Merrist Wood College of Horticulture
  • Traffic Control Management, Level 1 Basic TC
  • Certificate in Infrastructure Procurement Level 6


  • ARPro (Accredited Recreational Professional) awarded July 2006 ongoing
  • CIPP (Certified International Parks Professional) awarded 2014 ongoing
  • Recreation Aotearoa (NZRA) Fellow bestowed in 2016
  • Ian Galloway Cup recipient 2007 – for excellence and personal contribution
  • World Urban Parks Asia Pacific – leader 2002 – 2018
  • World Urban Parks Deputy Leader – 2018 – 2021

Xyst in action

We have been privileged to work on many inspiring projects throughout the years, seeing the evolution of our parks and outdoor spaces. The development of trails, which Xyst has been involved in over the past 20 + years has provided an increased opportunity to explore the environment for our wider communities.

As the architect of the Yardstick projects it has been rewarding to see the project established in Canada, Australia and at times used in South Africa and parts of Europe.

The executive placement roles at Gore, Waikato District, Mackenzie District, MPDC have also been challenging and rewarding, as the organisation usually needs steady leadership in a time of stress or with staff shortages. When completed, it’s a wonderful feeling to have served in the role and made new friends along the way.

One of our key benefits we bring to our communities is to find an alternative practical approach to making our communities stronger. Our ability to both be aware of best practice and to strive to find best practice solutions at fair value for our clients is part of our success.

Our Xyst team are very engaged in their own lives with their communities running community events, being active runners, walkers, hockey players, boaties, anglers and trampers.



The management of trees and the urban forest is vital to mitigating the effects of climate change and to the health and wellbeing of communities

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Service Delivery

From procuring and managing contractors to the practical implementation of strategic work, we can help you to deliver services efficiently

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Along with Yardstick, our international benchmarking program for local government, if you need research to make good decisions, we can get it for you

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With the growing demand for land and space, we can provide you with efficient strategies and solutions for managing cemeteries

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From design and planning to maintenance, we can help to ensure people have a great experience when they enjoy your campgrounds and facilities

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Asset Management

Having accurate information about assets allows you to make practical, workable decisions about maintaining and developing community spaces

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My Projects

Kiwirail land use options

The project considered opportunities for use of land that Council leases from KiwiRail. Xyst undertook desktop research and stakeholder consultation to inform potential future opportunities.

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Peace Avenue Trees

Xyst was engaged by the Mackenzie District Council to undertake an inspection of the 500 historic Peace Avenue trees planted at the turn of the

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Community Gardens Guidelines

Council acknowledged that establishing a successful Community Garden requires strong and sustained commitment from community members to undertake considerable planning, collaboration and engagement for a

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Parks & Facilities Management

Xyst was brought on board after a thorough risk and performance evaluation of the Mackenzie District Council’s parks and community facilities operations. Xyst was then

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Tree Strategy

Port Pirie wishes to be a region that has pride in, and appreciates the values of its trees within public parks, streets and open spaces.

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Parks Performance Assessments

The purpose of the parks performance assessment was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each park, from a multi-faceted holistic perspective, and particularly from

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Howie Park Concept Plan

Xyst undertook consultation with key stakeholders and the community to understand how the park was used and to identify key issues and opportunities to enhance

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Parks User Survey

Visitors’ expectations for levels of service are measured by asking them to rate the importance of various park features. The results are compared with visitor

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Parks Operations Site Audit

To review the Council’s maintenance operations, Xyst developed a site inspection matrix that had two major areas of assessment, being critical success factors and the

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