Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 16 November 2017

Working as a team

When the citizens of the Far North re-elected me as Mayor, they also elected nine councillors with the expectation that we would work as a team for the good of our district. Turning our governing body into a committed team is one of my top priorities.

Being part of a team doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. Communities need a robust democracy where issues are well-debated. But for this to happen, members must be prepared to raise matters at council meetings and workshops and discuss them in an adult manner. While we may not always agree, we need to respect each other and work together to build the community's confidence in our council and our strategies for addressing, what are in many cases, long-standing and entrenched issues.

Good team work means elected members should share their concerns with their colleagues before expressing what may be unsubstantiated opinions in the local media. Our Code of Conduct includes protocols for members to raise concerns through the appropriate channels, rather than make claims that may not represent the full picture. Also, my door is always open if a councillor feels they have been hard done by.

Our district deserves to have a council that is working together to improve outcomes for our people. Not raising matters at council meetings or workshops and then publicly criticising colleagues and staff sets a poor example and undermines the commitment of other elected members. Instead, we need to take a mature approach to the matter and, at the very least, first discuss the issue with the person involved with a view to resolving the matter.

It is not acceptable to use significant sums of ratepayer and taxpayer money laying a complaint against another councillor or staff member when the matter could have been sorted out amicably on a one-to-one basis. This achieves very little and shifts our focus away from the things that really matter to you and the things you elected us to achieve on your behalf.

As I have noted, the council is facing a number of challenges, but we are working hard to address these and, if we are to be successful, all elected members must pull their weight and work constructively as a team. I am the first to put my hand up and admit that we don't always get it right, that we could and can do better. We know we need a better roading system. That is why we are restructuring our roading contracting system, so there is regular grading and water tabling on our roads, as well as culvert cleaning to avoid flooding.

We are also aware that we need to streamline our building and resource consent processing and work more closely with the building industry, so we process applications in a much more efficient way. These are just two areas where we need to do better. But we will only make progress if we work constructively with staff and the community. That is why I am committed to building an effective team and why I am looking for the same commitment from others.



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