Govt steps in over Tauranga City Council conflicts

File image/SunLive.

After ongoing conflicts between Tauranga City Council’s mayor and councillors central government is getting involved.

The Department of Internal Affairs has requested the council provide assurance and evidence that it is taking proactive steps to “restore trust and confidence in its ability to meet the Crown’s expectations of a high-performing council”.

The elected members will consider a report on governance issues and a recommended plan to address strained relationships which have been the focus of media and social media commentary.

There have been ongoing issues between the mayor, Tenby Powell and councillors with Powell censured for inappropriate language and comments made about councillors in an internal council meeting in March.

The report will be received at an emergency council meeting on Friday and, if adopted, will see the council initiate action to address elected members’ relationship issues.

Chief Executive Marty Grenfell says the proposed action is a response to the DIA’s request.

“DIA has sought information so that it can advise the Minister of Local Government on action she may need to take pursuant to part 10 of the Local Government Act,” says Marty.

“The Minister has the power to assist or intervene in such situations. We believe that by initiating the appointment of a Review and Observer Team to monitor interactions and performance and report both to Council and DIA, the council can establish a path forward which can promote more constructive working relationships between councillors and between the mayor and councillors.”

He says the elected member relationship issues are mainly manifested in forums outside of the council chambers, and that the council’s formal decision-making processes had not been significantly impacted thus far.

“There continues to be a strong and effective working relationship between the elected members and the executive leadership of council.

“We have strong leadership capability within the organisation and staff are continuing to get on with the job of running the city, planning for its future and dealing with the pressures created by COVID-19 and our rapid growth.”

Marty says the proposed action to be proactively considered by the council would largely replicate the arrangements the Minister of Local Government could make. The proposed Review and Observer Team would be focusing on support, and monitoring and reporting on progress in restoring the strong, unified leadership needed to advance the city’s interests.

If the recommended action is adopted, the chief executive will report back within two weeks with a draft terms of reference for the Review and Observer Team, membership recommendations, in consultation with DIA, cost estimates and a budget approval request. Also a summary of the key decisions council will need to make, for submission to DIA, to deliver on next year’s 2021-31 long-term plan and on the city’s SmartGrowth objectives.

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Posted on 21-08-2020 06:54 | By Slim Shady

We are paying for this. More consultants funded by my money. Only this time it’s to try and stop the Mayor and his lapdog being dictating bullies. They have no shame and no regard to Ratepayers. If they did they would resign immediately. Nerak is right - time to withhold my payment until people are listened to.

Tauranga desrves better leadership

Posted on 20-08-2020 20:32 | By sobeit

Remember Tenby Powell’s election slogan. Well it’s come true and the majority who voted for an out of towner with no Local Government experience have got their just desserts. Pity for the rest of us.Andrew Hollis was spot on when he said he didn’t have the experience to be Mayor. None of them do. They should all resign and start again ....with experienced elected members starting with former Mayor Greg Brownless

End of the road

Posted on 20-08-2020 19:35 | By Informed

Council relations will always be hard. The toughest form of government. A bunch of individuals with completely different views for the city. Last time round we had a Mayor that was asleep at the wheel. Now we have a dictator. From what I’ve seen Powell is probably an amazing manager. But the worst type of leader we have ever seen. That said, when you look at the rest of the group there isn’t a lot of leadership skills either.

Rich Lister

Posted on 20-08-2020 18:45 | By Equality

Our mayor is /was (?) a rich lister with a huge portfolio of financial success (see the internet). Yet he has come down to Tauranga to tell us what to do. Did he offer to reduce his salary when the going got tough for the rest of us?? No. Has he ever shown any empathy for the population of Tauranga ratepayers? No! Does this man belong here in Tauranga where the majority of people are either pensioners or young struggling families? No !! He should pack up and go back where he came from.


Posted on 20-08-2020 18:00 | By Potofstu

Shame on all in this council.Your here for us to move Tauranga forward but you’re all stuck on personal politics.

There is only one solution

Posted on 20-08-2020 16:16 | By Andrew64

The buck stops at the top. This Mayor’s tenure has been a fiasco and his behaviour appalling. He is neither needed nor wanted here in Tauranga and if he won’t do the honourable thing and resign he should be removed and a Mayoral by-election called for.


Posted on 20-08-2020 13:50 | By nerak

Review and observer team??? Marty, you need to concentrate on working with DIA, and remove the ROT. There might be a “strong leadership capability”, but that is simply not playing out, its being stifled, with Powell’s penchant for bullying. He is NOT mayoral material. I’m paying +$3k in rates this year to live in a sick city with a sicker council! I don’t give a damn what goes on in forums outside council, I’m paying my share to have idiots at the helm and certain of those idiots need to go stroke their egos elsewhere. Time we ratepayers stopped paying, as a protest...


Posted on 20-08-2020 08:21 | By FRANKS

Any costs should come from the Councillors salaries.................that will fix it fast !!!!!!!

United Council

Posted on 20-08-2020 08:16 | By gincat

Council has shown unity. The distribution of their remuneration was unanimous. This at a time the economy is under uncertainty. For going a pay increase would have sent a strong signal to ratepayers.

Resignation please!

Posted on 20-08-2020 08:05 | By Equality

The conflict within council has broken down to such an extent that the different personalities within the council members are not reconcilable. The mayor needs to reconsider his resignation and do it NOW to bring harmony to the present untenable situation. Tauranga does not deserve this type of leadership -’my way or the highway’- take the highway Powell.

Sounds good to me

Posted on 19-08-2020 20:41 | By Kancho

I’m really tired of hearing about the council squabbles and if they need a good rollicking, to grow up a concentrate on the job then great yes bring in government minders. I have a lifetime of work behind me and worked with lots of people, some that were difficult or annoying but we got in with the job as it’s was what we were paid to do. Politicians are held to a higher standard and if the council don’t understand this they shouldn’t stand for office. Leave your personal agenda, sideshows and divisive attitudes at home. We have serious financial and infrastructure issues that need unity of purpose. I have noted those who have been disruptive behaviour who need to go next time I vote.

Out of order Marty

Posted on 19-08-2020 20:26 | By Slim Shady

To say, “elected member relationship issues are mainly manifested in forums outside of the council chambers“ is grossly wrong and partisan. The issues stem from behaviour in Council leaving no choice but to raise it on outside forums. The sooner Powell and Baldock go the better, and Grenfell can follow them.

At last

Posted on 19-08-2020 18:47 | By Told you

I hope this can be resolved for the City’s sake, this in fighting just has to stop, but the way they are behaving it doesn’t look likely.

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