Commission to be appointed to Tauranga Council

Nanaia Mahuta.

The Minister of Local Government has confirmed a Commission will be appointed to Tauranga City Council.

Nanaia Mahuta wrote to the Council in early December that she intended to appoint a Commission due to 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.

“The Council’s response has not presented me with sufficient 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.

“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,” says Nanaia Mahuta.

“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.

“I am mindful that this has been a stressful period for Council staff and local ratepayers who are looking for certainty about the future of the Council. The confirmation to appoint Commissioners for Tauranga will help to pave the way for the next set of decisions early next year.

Kelvin Clout.

Tauranga Councillor Kelvin Clout says he is disappointed that the minister has engaged a "nuclear option".

"The nine of us elected members were making good progress, enjoying a more collegial environment, and making sound decisions for our city," he says in a statement released to SunLive this afternoon.

"I urge the new commissioners to actively engage with Tauranga’s residents and take their legitimate issues and concerns into account when planning for the future of our city."

The appointment of a Commission will remove the statuary requirement to hold a by-election.

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.

"My passion for Tauranga’s wellbeing will not be diminished, and I will continue to actively engage with the community," says Clout.

"I look forward to democracy returning to Tauranga in 2022 as the Minister has signaled. Any extension of commissioners beyond October 2022 would be a central government slap in the face for Tauranga’s residents."

Acting Mayor Tina Salisbury says she anticipates the Minister will announce the appointment of a commission and the names of its members and chairperson in February.

“I am naturally disappointed, I agree Crown intervention is needed which is why I voted to request a crown manager to assist the elected members and staff to address the current and historic issues our city faces. However, I fully respect and understand the Minister’s decision.

“Tauranga is facing huge challenges, especially around the development of a Long-term Plan which will effectively address our infrastructure deficit, and it’s of utmost importance that this city has the support and leadership it needs to thrive,” she said. “I remain committed to our beautiful city and I will do everything I can to facilitate the transition to commissioners.

“In terms of the council’s day-to-day operations, it’s important to know that business will continue as usual and our community can have full confidence that the essential services and activities they depend on will continue to be delivered professionally, effectively and without interruption.”

She says the council executive team will consider the wider implications of the Minister’s decision next week, including the impact on the by-election process currently underway.

“On a personal note, I am hugely grateful for the support I have received from the community.

"It has been a privilege to serve as an elected member, as your deputy mayor and now as your acting mayor. I will continue to lead us into this transition and I look forward to continuing to contribute to Tauranga Moana in whatever capacity I can.”

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Cowley. File photo.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Cowley says a reset is needed.

"It's never an easy decision to take away local democracy, but the Minister has no other option. 

"Due to the current environment, Mayoral candidates with suitable skills and experience would not be attracted to stand in this bi-election." 

He says commissioners will still likely proceed with significant rate rises in 2021.

"But there is hope that the money raised will be better invested with the oversight of independent and experienced commissioners.

The business community just wants progress. The show must go on." 

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@ Morepork

Posted on 21-12-2020 12:57 | By Yadick

Thank you for sharing the ’drain the swamp’ origin. We need a LOT more information on the candidates we are supposed to vote for next election. As the Commissioner has now been called in none of the current Councillors should be allowed to stand. Fired and gone for good.

Good job

Posted on 19-12-2020 18:41 | By jed

Councillors let us down. The new rubbish collection is going to cost me $650 per year for a bin half the size collected half as often. I pay $480 now so my cost for rubbish collection is going up by 400%. These councillors are hiding the true costs of their collection service to some ratepayers... hint: Mt maunganui residents are being forced to subsidise rubbish collection fees for Brookfield ratepayers.

Yes, throw the money at it

Posted on 19-12-2020 14:17 | By Roman Tomson

The Commissioner needs to : Identify what Tauranga needs (eg. fix congestion) Identify, and correct, if necessary, how the Council will fulfill those needs. Confirm that the process of fulfilling the needs is appropriate and financially responsible. Assess the efficiency of the Council. Assess the costs involved. And, finally, to use a previous commenter’s words, throw the money at it to get it done and done quickly.

Need Better

Posted on 19-12-2020 14:02 | By Roman Tomson

By Accountable, your comment about Mr Powell is unreasonable. His failing was that he clearly did not have the people management skills needed to pull this long time dysfunctional council together. Given this, there was no way that the Council staff could have received clear direction and hence the multitude of silly decisions enacted and the megabucks wasted.


Posted on 19-12-2020 13:49 | By morepork

I am apolitical. I didn’t vote for Jacinda or her party (although I have been known to vote for Labour in the past), and I admire and respect the great job the PM and her science team have done with the Covid crisis. Her leadership and sensibility is beyond reproach. So I struggle when I see people here concerned that a Commission appointed by a Labour Government, will be against the interests of anyone who voted National. The Commission (like me...) is supposed to be apolitical, and serve the people of Tauranga until new elections in 2022. If you are a National Party member or voter, there should be no reason for you to mistrust the Commission. If there is any Party Political action by the Commission, you can be assured of my support in denouncing it, UNLESS it is in our City’s best interests.


Posted on 19-12-2020 13:39 | By morepork

"Drain the swamp" was originally an anti-malaria action which proved effective in a number of places. I first heard it used politically in England, in the 1980s, and, of course, Trump used it more recently but changed the meaning of "swamp" to be anything he didn’t like, rather than the original meaning of "ethics". The local swamp has been the self-serving and egotistical behavior of the Mayor and Council and the resulting ineptitude and lack of progress for our City. A Commission could hardly do a worse job, but there is much to be repaired and I don’t see the Commission as being the be-all and end-all. At least they will give us a breathing space and allow the current crop of "mosquitoes" to die out... As voters it is our job to provide the insect repellant; vet the candidates and VOTE!

@ Paul Johnston

Posted on 19-12-2020 12:41 | By Yadick

Good call. When this appalling mess is sorted and if Colonel Powell stood again, I would seriously consider my vote for him.

Rotten to the core.

Posted on 19-12-2020 10:36 | By MarkFive

This is great news. For years, Tauranga City Council has mismanaged many of its responsibilities and played favourites within it’s ’click’ of serve serving ego driven members and so called ’smart’ organisations. Our roading is a mess, parking anywhere other than in a shopping mall is impossible, the CBD is now officially dead, we have no new attractions or amenities, no tourism i-site and, and... Walk down to the beach, pick ten random people over twelve years old and they would probably do a better job! Our city was a nicer place with more heart, ten years ago. But still, some of these incompetents have the cheek to stand for election again and again, with the same old fools voting them in.

The irony

Posted on 19-12-2020 09:34 | By Paul Johnston

@ By Accountable, you leave a personal nasty remark about an individual but you do not have the courage to put your name next to it. “By Accountable” but yet you are anonymous superb irony. I’m struggling to believe you truly believe that all of the Council’s issues are down to one person, many of the issues pre-date Mr Powell’s election as Mayor but you simply must know that....surely?

Be careful what you wish for

Posted on 19-12-2020 08:22 | By Border Patrol

While I agree that the Tauranga council have left a lot to be desired, I agree with Slim Shady and Cynical Me that this potentially suits the labour party. Whether we like it or not the council representatives are democratically elected by the people, and are now to be replaced by government appointees. This action is also proposed in the health review by Heather Simpson whereby she recommends having government appointees only on our Health Boards. A worrying trend indeed.

What we dont want in 2022

Posted on 19-12-2020 07:42 | By FRANKS

When we get a chance to vote again then a much higher % of residents need to get of their backsides and vote. Then we need to make sure most of the current lot are NOT elected again.

With cautious optimism.........

Posted on 18-12-2020 19:57 | By groutby

....I certainly welcome this move, indeed as Mr Cowley suggests a ’reset’ is needed, just give us time to pause and review, we are moving quickly and need people of substantive skill and experience to take us to where we need to be. The thought of more of the same was for me, not good, so maybe with an independent body perhaps we can get ’back on track’....but...we need to support the new decision makers whoever they may be, and just maybe in 2022, we can stand on our own again and crack on as a forward looking city that, as a result of this move other regions can have confidence in if they are in a similar position..........

M. Mouse

Posted on 18-12-2020 18:27 | By M. Mouse

This decision will save Tauranga more money then keeping the elected members on even when rates are being rased . In fact I believe there will be so much money saved that money actually can be spend on good.

Deep Pockets

Posted on 18-12-2020 18:01 | By Taffy

Well I hope that us ratepayers have deep pockets because I suspect that proposed rate rises will end up even higher!

Big Reset

Posted on 18-12-2020 16:14 | By gincat

The Minister has signaled the current elected members have not got the skill set required to run this city. Despite what the members will tell you. I would have backed the current lot if they dipped into their own pockets to pay $360k for the Observers, but clearly are a bunch of self servicing bunch clowns. No need to apply in 2022 election, you have caused enough disruptions.

At Last

Posted on 18-12-2020 15:43 | By Told you

Now I hope Tauranga will have Positive direction, and no more wasted money on ill thought out projects. The councillors have nothing to blame but themselves.

Excellent news.

Posted on 18-12-2020 15:41 | By StevieB

Now please reverse the decision about rubbish collection & leave it to the existing locals who need the jobs. Then reverse the council plan to ’flag’ properties as flood prone, which have never had any surface water issues in the past, then reverse the one-way traffic plan for Pilot Bay and keep all carparks to encourage folk to come there.


Posted on 18-12-2020 15:35 | By Yadick

Time to drain the swamp (whoever used that term in the first place - I love it). This is an embarrassing situation for Tauranga to be in but unfortunately it is necessary. Without digging us into a deeper hole, this is the only way forward. You cannot cross a chasm in two small steps - sometimes you have to take a big step if one is indicated. I still believe Colonel Powell could’ve done well had the circumstances been different. Anyway, ONWARDS + UPWARDS :- )


Posted on 18-12-2020 15:07 | By WestieMum

Mr Clout says "I urge the new commissioners to actively engage with Tauranga’s residents and take their legitimate issues and concerns into account when planning for the future of our city." Well, they certainly can’t do any worse in engaging the community and listening to our concerns than what Mr Clout and his sandpit playmates have done so far.... Fingers crossed.

so who and what say do the reatepayers get.

Posted on 18-12-2020 14:47 | By Cynical Me

So a commission is the be appointed. Who will they be? Will they be representative of our ratepayer population and longterm residents or will they be Johnny come lately’s, a preponderance of one ethnic group what knowledge will they have of our city and county? Will the be able to strong arm NZTA to spend the money here that they should or will they be patsies of the Labour Govt. which is of course what we expect to be given.


Posted on 18-12-2020 14:22 | By terry hall

yes yes yes, a commissioner is going to be appointed at last, and then in 2022 vote a new lot in and choose very carefully next time please.


Posted on 18-12-2020 14:13 | By dumbkof2

of course the present councilors don’t want a commission. they will lose all their perks and over inflated salary

Commissioner appointment

Posted on 18-12-2020 14:11 | By davidt5

The best Christmas present that the Tauranga ratepayers could get. Hopefully we no longer need to pay for the present lot of childish and arrogant city councillors. Even those who had been our elected representatives for many years felt compelled to lower themselves to become the laughing stock of the community. They should be ashamed of themselves. Only stupid and unnecessary decisions have been made of late, eg unwanted rubbish collection system which will turn out to be much dearer than that which we currently have.


Posted on 18-12-2020 13:58 | By Slim Shady

It’s started. The Democratic People’s Republic of Tauranga. It’s all part of Cindy Jong-Un’s long term plan. Any town or city with a National MP is under threat from the red wave.

The only winner

Posted on 18-12-2020 13:51 | By Accountable

Is Tenby Powell. He was the toxic infiltrator and now the ratepayers will pay the penalty for voting him in!


Posted on 18-12-2020 13:48 | By Slim Shady

A final damning indictment from the Minister. The Councillors couldn’t even demonstrate how they have made the necessary changes - because they haven’t got a clue. Pack your bags and no nicking the furniture or stationery. Escort them from the building immediately.

Throw some money at the problems

Posted on 18-12-2020 13:44 | By Johnney

Hope she comes with a big taxpayer budget because it appears the only way Labour knows how to solve things is to keep throwing money at it.

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