Tauranga councillors fail to persuade Mahuta she should allow them to stay in their elected posts

The citizens of Tauranga have been given another heads-up about losing their democracy – Nanaia Mahuta, who enthuses about upholding democracy as Minister of Foreign Affairs, has affirmed she intends appointing a commission to replace the dysfunctional Tauranga City Council.

Less controversially she announced New Zealand is providing an initial package of support to Fiji as it assesses the damage from Tropical Cyclone Yasa.

She didn’t mention the cost, but big bucks were involved in another Beehive announcement.  Fresh funding of $1.12 billion – which implies borrowing a sum of that magnitude – will support the COVID-19 health response and quarantine facilities for a further 18 months.

Among other announcements:

  • In response to a review of adventure tourism activities, the Government “will look” to strengthen regulatory oversight and audit processes relating to the management of natural hazard risks (which isn’t quite the same as saying they will strengthen it). This news accompanied the release of the first stage of the targeted review of the adventure activities regulations and terms of reference into an independent review of WorkSafe’s operations in relation to activities on Whakaari White Island,
  • More small businesses will be eligible to take out interest-free loans under changes to a government cashflow scheme.

Mahuta confirmed a commission will be appointed to Tauranga City Council as the next step in a process triggered when she wrote to the council early this month to advise she intended doing this because of “significant governance problems among the Council’s elected representatives”.

As required in the Local Government Act 2002, the council was given 10 days to respond.

Yesterday Mahuta said the council’s response had presented insufficient evidence on how it is addressing its problems.

“I consider a Commission to be necessary to deliver the strategic leadership that the Council and city needs.”

It seems this means councillors will remain in office, technically, but can’t do the jobs they were elected to do and won’t be paid (although Mahuta expects them to help the commission).

She said:

“I will be sending the Commission a strong direction to ensure that the Tauranga community is engaged with and consulted on all significant decisions of the Council, as is required in the legislation. 

“I hope that the elected representatives will work collectively to support the Commission. This will put the Council in the best position to return to fully elected representation at the 2022 local authority elections.”

The commission’s term will begin in early 2021 and end at the triennial local authority elections in October 2022. The commissioner appointments will be announced in February.

With her Foreign Affairs hat on, Mahuta announced initial NZ support for Fiji  includes sending a RNZAF P-3 Orion to conduct flights to help assess damage, including in remote areas.

Demonstrating her command of military jargon, she further said

“We are releasing emergency relief kits pre-positioned in Fiji in partnership with Rotary New Zealand, and are making funding available to the New Zealand High Commission to respond to needs on the ground as requested by Fiji.”

“Pre-positioning” means placing military units, equipment, or supplies at or near the point of planned use or at a designated location to reduce reaction time, and to ensure timely support of a specific force during initial phases of an operation.

New Zealand is also funding a technical adviser to the Fiji National Disaster Management Office, which is leading the response.

The big-spending announcement yesterday, the fresh funding of $1.12 billion to support the COVID-19 health response and quarantine facilities for a further 18 months, came from Chris Hipkins as Minister for COVID-19 Response.

He acknowledged there are “exciting developments” on the vaccine and safe travel zone fronts.

“But we also need our health system to have sufficient capacity and support to maintain effective levels of contact tracing and testing, and for managed isolation and quarantine facilities to be fully resourced for our overall elimination strategy to work.

“That requires cash injections for the Ministry of Health, DHBs and agencies working at the quarantine facilities to provide funding certainty.”

Funding agreed by Cabinet will pay for a series of COVID-19-related health activities to June 2022, including:

  • Maintaining up to 7000 tests a day including swabbing and laboratory services.
  • Contact tracing, supplies of PPE and supporting technology.
  • Additional support for the Ministry, and for DHBs on an as-needed basis.

Latest from the Beehive

18 DECEMBER 2020

New Zealand provides support to Fiji following Cyclone Yasa

Commission to be appointed to Tauranga City Council

Extending support for the COVID-19 elimination strategy to June 2022

Small business support expanded

Govt committed to improving safety in wake of Whakaari White Island tragedy

2 thoughts on “Tauranga councillors fail to persuade Mahuta she should allow them to stay in their elected posts

  1. Re Tauranga City Council appointment of Commissioner.
    I’m confused with your understanding re the existing Councillors position once a Commissioner is appointed as The Herald reports this morning that Councillors will be removed on the appointment of the Commissioner! This is what should happen! The key Councillors who caused the complete destruction of the Council, the Mayoralty losers, each who arrogantly thought they should be the next Mayor of Tauranga, should be sacked. The majority of residents did not want any of them to be Mayor. We voted for Tenby Powell as we wanted, and needed, a change! Those few Councillors are the ones who have caused this governance failure and they deserve to be sacked. We do really feel for the few Councillors who wanted the Council to work together for the betterment of Tauranga! However, it is now resolved with them all being removed (hopefully) and we have the opportunity in 2022 to elect a new Council!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.