Tauranga “short changed” by commission appointment

A commission will take over Tauranga City Councillors’ duties but how they will engage with the community is still up in the air. File photo.

Commissioners are set to take over Tauranga City Councillors’ responsibilities in February, but with so few details about the appointments, questions remain over how the public will still be able to engage with the decision-making process.

People and engagement general manager Susan Jamieson says it's too early to give definitive answers about whether the commissioners will be as readily available to the public as councillors are.

She says the commissioners will determine what the community engagement process will look like.

The appointments will be announced in early February and they take up their roles on February 8.

Councillors’ mobile numbers and emails are on the council website and councillor Kelvin Clout says they are effectively open to the public all hours of the day and night.

He is contacted up to 20 times a week, with a lot of this requiring follow up with council staff or connecting people in the community.

Kelvin doesn’t agree with the appointment of commissioners and says it is a step too far.  

“To replace all of the elected members with unelected bureaucrats is a backward step for local democracy.”

One of his biggest concerns is people won’t have the same level of access to the commissioners and they might not be Tauranga-based.

He says because the commissioners are unelected, they’re not as accountable to the voters.

“I think the community will be really short changed.”

The commission will still be required to abide by the Local Government Act, so meetings will be open to the public and formal consultation processes will continue.

Susan says as part of the commissioner appointment process, the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta made it clear that she expects a high level of community engagement and will be seeking to appoint people with strong relationship-building capabilities who can quickly develop the confidence of the community.

In December, Mahuta announced a commission will be appointed saying council had not presented sufficient evidence on how it would address its problems.

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

Last year, councillor Jako Abrie and Mayor Tenby Powell resigned, citing dysfunction amongst the councillors and calling for commissioners to be appointed.

Until the appointments on February 8, councillors remain in their roles and can be contacted. Any operational matters or information requests should be dealt with by council.

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Tom Ranger

Posted on 25-01-2021 13:42 | By

@Kancho It is fine and understandable that rates increase over time. However if the council is wasting multi-millions of dollars on failed projects, projects that need 2 or 3 go’s at or buy out of property to sell to Classic homes for an undisclosed amount. The question is raised about what they would do with the increased rates. The answer is currently...waste a huge portion of it. That trajectory must change before increasing rates imo. One of the first things the councilors did was increase their own salary! They had barely put their feet beneath their desks at that point!

Tom Ranger

Posted on 25-01-2021 08:59 | By

@Kancho. Increasing rates over time is completely understandable and acceptable. But if we don’t address the efficiency of the current use of rates/resources available to council. What is bound to happen? It is not penny pinching to say that millions and millions of dollars should not have been spent and then more lost on the Bella Vista debacle and then there is the on-sale to Classic Homes for an undisclosed amount? That is giving our money away!

@Tom Ranger, 100%...

Posted on 23-01-2021 15:08 | By morepork

You put your finger right on it and I advocated each of the things you said, here in this forum for some time now. Sadly it won’t happen. Even more sadly, there is nothing you or I can do about it. We get to vote. "You pays yer money, yer takes yer chance..." We need reforms of civic law and we need a better quality of candidate. I don’t see any immediate way to get either of those. I believe we have the people but you can’t blame them for not stepping forward. Maybe there can be a new era after the Commission is done.

Oh dear

Posted on 23-01-2021 10:02 | By

What a completely biased and inaccurate article. Of course, Kevin Clout has nothing good to say about the appointment of a Commissioner. it means he loses his sinecure of a job . If those elected over the last few decades, you know the ones, (the good ole boys) had done their jobs as they were well paid to do, then this situation would not have arisen. I believe it is called pigeons coming home to roost.

Have another hit

Posted on 23-01-2021 03:34 | By

Just compare the close by cities. They all do a better job taking care of the ratepayers and creating a pleasant place to live. Business has had too much say in the city to the point where they get away with too much and pay too little. Why do we have 2 satellite malls while downtown rots?

So who invented this position

Posted on 22-01-2021 21:22 | By nerak

"People and engagement general manager Susan Jamieson ". This is precisely what is so wrong with a lot about this council. Did a pay rise come with the title? I’ve said it before, look at the staff pushing the councillors.


Posted on 22-01-2021 19:36 | By

Some of these Councillors are not getting the memo. So, we need to start impeachment proceedings to bar them from public office in future. All we need is a crazy lady with an axe to grind and a trumped up charge and a very tenuous link.

Wrong answer to the problem

Posted on 22-01-2021 17:56 | By Cynical Me

Its always so easy to get the answer to the symptoms of a problem but that rarely fixes the problem. A commissioner will not fix this issue nor the same issue facing all councils in NZ. The legislation that they work under is driven by the Govt. They set the agenda and the staff follow along as they are required to do. The councillors try to get the direction right according to the law while trying to placate 120000 give me’s, the CEO has his views and between the three it all becomes and fight pit. No where is the ratepayer, the customer considered at all? They are after all the customer and bankroller of the councils. Just too much wrong both the legislation to fix anything and now Labour is going to make it worse. Add all the expense that county people contribute.


Posted on 22-01-2021 17:09 | By

I agree with all the above comments. Definitely time for a huge clean up.


Posted on 22-01-2021 17:08 | By R1Squid

The transferable voting system. Very few understand how the system works.

Well Tom

Posted on 22-01-2021 16:06 | By Kancho

It’s no longer $10 Tauranga Tom. Costs are going up a the time. In spite of slash and burn tactics there will be rate rises. Nobody wants waste but it’s bigger than that. Investment has to be made to repair infrastructure and build more for the growth. When this place was labelled $10 Tauranga it was a joke about penny pinching local attitudes. We inflation has been a long time since then the 1970 $10 is now $45 rates are going up


Posted on 22-01-2021 15:43 | By

Hopefully the puppet will fix the commercial rates differential. It is criminally low.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 22-01-2021 14:27 | By

Not far enough imo. Now...layer by layer strip cost from EVERY single thing in council’s hands. No new projects until the books are sorted. Revision of currently planned projects ASAP. Scrap everything non-essential. No...wasted rates. That’s what makes us so mad! They’ve wasted so much of our money and they have the gaul to tell us we have to increase rates because they are nearly insolvent. Weellll No Thank you!

Sorry Kelvin

Posted on 22-01-2021 14:11 | By Astoreth

The only thing wrong with the appointment of a commission is that it is happening 15 years too late.

Cr. Clout says...

Posted on 22-01-2021 13:56 | By morepork

... "because the commissioners are unelected, they’re not as accountable to the voters." Does that strike anyone else as ironic? The people we elected were unaccountable, preferring closed door meetings and "secret" deals. And when things went pear-shaped who stepped up and took responsibility? Who was accountable? Nobody. The Commissioners could not possibly do a worse job than the inept and childish mob we had before. Said it before; I say it again: "Don’t run for Council unless you are doing so for the right reasons, have integrity, decency, and responsibility, and care about our City and the people in it." Public service as an elected official should not be a career path or an easy gravy train to jump on board. Cr. Clout, you don’t like the Commission; we get it. But ask yourself why and how it got there.

Good Riddance

Posted on 22-01-2021 12:48 | By Told you

The outgoing councillors only have themselves to blame for being out of a job. If they had behaved and run the City properly this would not have eventuated.


Posted on 22-01-2021 12:31 | By

Clout could’ve thought more about his own and others actions before it came down to this. It’s way too late to be playing games now. You should’ve walked the talk when the public trusted you (and others) to do so. This is the backwash and ripple effect we as ratepayers have to endure because of the trust we put in you and others. Not so clever now ay. As gincat rightfully says, it’s now reset time. Don’t bother standing again.

I can smell it now.....

Posted on 22-01-2021 12:20 | By

I can smell all the Councillors crapping themselves now, and this story shows how desperate they all are. Kelvin would say it’s a step too far, but I don’t think it is. This action and approach is long long overdue!!

Same same but different

Posted on 22-01-2021 12:02 | By

Instead of elected Councillors ignoring the public and being dictated to by Council staff, it will be a regime puppet in the same position. Even though it’s an assault on democracy the silver lining is money saved on useless trough feeders. We can only hope that the puppet has a pair, and starts slashing away at all the overpaid fat. I doubt it though.

Agree gincat

Posted on 22-01-2021 11:55 | By

They all had a chance to play nicely but could not. A clean slate will be a new start, no fights, new ideas, and no need for the old mob that lead to the way it will be run.

The Mess

Posted on 22-01-2021 11:49 | By Merlin

The mess was created by you the Councillors. No good crying foul now. Next time do your job properly without all the squabbling.

Short Changed

Posted on 22-01-2021 11:36 | By gincat

Ratepayers were short changed by Councillors unable to distinguish between operational and governess matters, along with their behaviour. Its reset time having Commissioners, and a very clear signal to Councillors, Dont bother standing again