Tauranga mayor quits, wants council replaced by commissioner

By Te Ao - Māori News

Tauranga City mayor Tenby  Powell is farewelled with a hongi from Māori cultural adviser Josh Te Kani.

Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell has quit and asked Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to appoint a commissioner to replace the dysfunctional council.

That came just after an independent report into the council recommended a Crown manager be appointed.  Councillors voted 5-5 on whether to appoint the manager and Powell used his casting vote to pass the motion.

But Powell said a commissioner would be more effective.

He said he was leaving because the councillors were from "vision-less, old men's clubs" and even racist.

And he said his resignation had nothing to do with the prostate cancer he revealed last week.

His resignation was welcomed by applause from controversial councillor Andrew Hollis.

Māori wards backed

The Tauranga council did keep its support for a Māori ward at the 2022 local body election. It rejected a late councillor proposal calling for a referendum to decide on the ward instead.

Nevertheless, if a ratepayer-initiated petition wins enough signatures, the council will be forced to hold a ratepayer poll on the issue at the next election.

Last month councillor Jako Abrie resigned – and he too called for a commissioner to replace the council.

The extreme move would effectively sack elected members and can only be undertaken if the minister believes there is a major problem.

The independent review suggested councillors had little understanding of their role in governance, had an inability and unwillingness to make decisions and showed no self-awareness of their contribution to the issues.

Powell said he had had every intention of returning to the mayoralty.

“However, I have come to the conclusion that that may only serve to perpetuate the status quo.”

“History will show that in November 2020, when the DNA of incompetence was recognised and cauterised, and, after a period of Crown management, that a governance team can be rebuilt with real leaders,” he said.