Public Papamoa meeting turns testy

Members of the Papamoa Residents & Ratepayers Association listening to Mayor Tenby Powell at the monthly July meeting.

 

Tauranga City Mayor Tenby Powell is defending his decision to walk out of a public meeting in Papamoa this week.

The Papamoa Residents & Ratepayers Association ran two campaigns earlier this year supporting a zero rates increase and encouraging residents to send protest emails to the mayor about the wetland planting in the Wairakei waterways around Palm Beach West.

The mayor was invited to speak at the association’s monthly meeting on Monday night but, following a heated moment during question time, association chair Philip Brown says the mayor left the meeting.

Powell says the meeting became “abusive and threatening”.

“I did frame with Philip the minute I walked in that if it becomes abusive and threatening, then I'll leave. It did in my view and I left,” says Powell, who had found the meeting otherwise mostly positive.

“He blew up at the end,” says a resident who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Not many were impressed, he walked out after speaking and didn’t stay for the rest of the meeting. He avoided asking questions, blamed previous council, name dropped.”

Powell says he was there for an hour and a half and answered questions honestly.

“There were a couple of very aggressive people at the end and history has taught me it's best to not engage at that point.

“I expect to be challenged, but I don't expect to be abused.”

The residents had been waiting to meet the mayor since he pulled out of the February meeting, giving, what association chair Philip Brown says, was four hours’ notice.

Philip says residents came along to the Monday night meeting looking forward to hear what the mayor was going to say about the issues the association had raised through the online campaigns.

“He was supportive of receiving letters,” says Philip.

“All the officers at council were fobbing everyone off and it [the Wairakei wetland planting] was carrying on regardless. No one at council was listening. He’s the figurehead of the council so that’s why he was emailed.

“It’s come to a temporary truce now while people sort out what’s going on. The public doesn’t react too well to the attitude from council that they’re going on regardless.”

Philip says it was “a positive meeting” that “just maybe finished on a little bit of a low note”.

Powell says the council does need to be better at “explaining the ‘why’ we’re doing stuff more than the ‘what’ we want to do.”

“The ‘why’ enables us to take people on the journey with us. We need to be factual and keep it clear and simple. And we're not doing that.

“I said very clearly last night (Monday) that we could do a lot better in respect of that.”

“Philip has given a tremendous amount of misinformation to his constituents around the rubbish recycling, particularly. And he's not open-minded to listen to some of the facts as we’re portraying them.”

Philip refutes this.

“The PRRA is not putting out misinformation about the rubbish recycling proposal. We have challenged the council to say what is incorrect and have had no reply,” says Philip.

“There is not a good solution for Tauranga at the moment and we are asking for a deferral of the decision for two years. This will allow time for the ratepayers to be fully informed of the costs and business case. Currently council will make a decision before the ratepayers know the extra to be charged on their rates and we feel that this is not in the spirit of local democracy.”

Other residents also expressed disappointment.

“Mayor Tenby deferred questions to Councillor Morris on multiple occasions, also mocking the democracy of his office and stating he was not interested in the process - that was for people like Councillor Morris and Robson. At one point the mayor engaged in a yelling match against a meeting attendee, the whole performance was very unbecoming of the mayoralty.”

Philip says 95 per cent of the questions were “quite tame to be honest”.
“I expected much more curly questions than he got, except for one gentleman at the end, he became personal,” says Philip. “Instead of humouring the guy out and cutting it short, the mayor rose to the challenge and stood up to him.”

“There were a couple of very aggressive people at the end and history has taught me it's best to not engage at that point,” says Powell.

“One woman called me an incompetent idiot. There’s no point in staying, she’d made her mind up and that was fine. I expect to be challenged, but I don't expect to be abused.”

He acknowledged the unforeseen challenges he’s encountered since being elected as Tauranga’s mayor.

“When I stood for election I was under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead, but we hadn't factored in Whakaari, the escalation of gang violence and a global pandemic.

“We’re doing the very best we can amidst extremely challenging circumstances. Most of the challenges have been the legacies that we've been left with to manage by the previous council through either indecision or incompetence.”

Powell says he wanted to reinforce that “in fact, things are really not as bad as what they may appear in the media”.

He says from his perspective they have achieved more in six months than the previous council achieved in three years.

“We’ve had to make decisions which could have been made and resolved in the last triennium. Fixing the Mount base track, at its highest estimated costs, it was $5.5 million and was heading into its third summer season of a broken track. We did it in ten weeks for $718,000.

“The Elms which was batted to and through, we did in one sitting, and it was a great privilege and great pride to me to go back to the Elms only a week or so ago for that to be completed and handed back.

“At the meeting I also touched on why the mayoral task force on homelessness is important.”

On Wednesday he lamented the difficulties in trying to get the city to move forward.

“To get the city to move forward, there is absolutely no way that's going to happen and I recognise that now.”

He says there was split voting in the previous council, as there is now.

“The previous council was mostly split six, five, five, six, whatever. And so too are we, the only difference is, I didn’t run for mayor to join the council club, I joined to break the stranglehold that some of the old members have negatively had on this city and to move it forward progressively.

“I made that very clear that for those that don't like that, they have a democratic option in two and a half years to vote in a new mayor.

“I said that to Phillip. I said, ‘Philip when you're standing up here as the mayor of Tauranga in the next triennium it'll be interesting to see what you've been able to achieve’,” says Powell.

Mostly though, he says he is enjoying the mayoralty.

“I said last night that this is the first time in my life I've never been a part of a functioning team. And normally it’s a high performance team.”

The Mayor says following the Papamoa meeting he returned to council to talk about the messaging and communication around recycling and rubbish “because what’s being said isn’t accurate that’s for sure, and that tells me we haven’t communicated that well enough.”

He says his team was very surprised to learn that some of the messaging hadn’t got out.

“One wonders how we do get the accurate message out, but then again, some people come to meetings with an absolutely fixed opinion that they just will not back away from, and there was some of that last night. No matter what I said, this one woman called me a liar. I was telling the truth as I know it to be based on the staff work and all that comes with the figures, costings, and the service provision for rubbish and recycling. I'm very confident that the staff have done some very good work on it. 

“At the end of the day, we are the worst metro. I don't care what anyone says, we are well behind the eight ball on rubbish and recycling. Sixty-five per cent of the rubbish which is thrown to landfill could be recycled in some form and we can do a lot better,” says Powell.

Philip says there’s still plenty of questions to be answered, particularly around recycling and reducing the amount of rubbish going to landfill.

“Why is the cost being added extra to the rates? There is enough money in the existing rates to pay for the scheme if less was spent on growth on new areas. Many in Tauranga cannot afford this,” says Philip.

Papamoa Mount Maunganui ward councillors Dawn Kiddie and Steve Morris, who regularly attend the monthly ratepayer meetings to give their council update, spoke after the mayor had talked on Monday night.

The covered topics such as Montiicola Drive, the Papamoa war memorial landscaping, Wairakei stream planting as questions had arisen during Tenby’s presentation, and Totara Street cycling.

Councillor Dawn Kiddie says she was “disappointed in the mayor” because Papamoa ratepayers had waited a long time to meet him in person.

“This was a great opportunity for him to engage with really nice people, many of whom voted for him,” says Kiddie.

“Everybody was pleased to have seen the mayor and to have heard from him even if they didn’t agree with the story,” says Philip.

“It’s still good to hear what other people’s views and aspirations for Tauranga are.

“I think it was a positive meeting. Just maybe finished on a little bit of a low note, but until then I thought it was really good.”

Deputy mayor Tina Salisbury and councillors Andrew Hollis and John Robson also attended the PRRA meeting, with Andrew giving an update on the Mount ratepayers.




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22 Comments

@ Slim Shady

Posted on 19-07-2020 16:50 | By Yadick

In fact if you read between the lines I can use it quite tactfully . . .

@yadick

Posted on 19-07-2020 11:58 | By Slim Shady

You clearly have no concept of sarcasm.

@kancho

Posted on 18-07-2020 16:31 | By morepork

I missed your post before making my own. You are absolutely right about the management of the meeting; it seems to have been abysmal. Although I can be a curmudgeon on occasion, I don’t think people who went along just to disrupt the meeting, should have been allowed to get away with it. Whatever the Mayor’s shortcomings, the Chair should have ensured he got a fair hearing and the disruptive elements should have been ejected.

@BryanBOP

Posted on 18-07-2020 16:24 | By morepork

There isn’t supposed to be an "entitled elite" here but you are right. Standing on your dignity and walking away from people who are annoyed with you is not good leadership, nor does it show any real desire to engage with the "hoi polloi"...

Abuse.

Posted on 18-07-2020 16:20 | By morepork

If someone calls you an incompetent idiot, and it’s true, then it ISN’T abuse, it’s a statement of fact. Or, if not of fact, at least of opinion. Nevertheless, there is no need to abuse the Mayor or anyone else when they have come to present a case. This is called an "ad hominem" attack and it is a cowardly way to argue. Would you expect ANY politician to get unwrapped when called an idiot or a liar? I wouldn’t. If you aspire to public office you need thicker skin than that. I’d expect them to calmly refute the accusation with facts. Walking out would be a last resort and if the meeting had become that unruly, then it was not being chaired properly. I’m really disappointed that I voted for Mr. Powell and I expect to correct that at the next election.

Poor chairpersonship

Posted on 18-07-2020 14:50 | By Kancho

Meetings should be run in a proper manner and the chairperson stay impartial. Seems not Mr Brown . Comudgeons without any point to make pertinent to the subject in hand should be told to calm down and not make personal attacks it’s that simple. It doesn’t matter which side of the debate it is the chair responsibility to keep on track. Embarrassing for those who disrupted proceedings completely off track . Seems the minority again take control and the purpose of the meeting thwarted. If I was there I would have left too as there’st no point being there for sensible information and debate.

I Agree with Slim Shady

Posted on 17-07-2020 23:42 | By Yadick

As Slim Shady says, Good decision Sir. You can’t have a positive outcome meeting that resorts to pathetic name calling. It’s a no win for all and disrespectful. Well said Slim Shady.

Looking at the photo,

Posted on 17-07-2020 22:54 | By waiknot

And no disrespect to those who attended the meeting, but they look to be mostly elderly. And the great military man felt threatened!

Tom Ranger

Posted on 17-07-2020 20:39 | By Tom Ranger

They strongly dissagree with me and think I’m making bad decisions! I feel threatened! Good bye. Gimme a break. We pay you to listen! Give yourself another raise why don’t you.

Tenby again showing he doesn't care about the everyday people

Posted on 17-07-2020 19:04 | By Omni

No a genuine local by any stretch of the imagination read article by NZH ’Auckland power couple Tenby Powell and Sharon Hunter move to Tauranga’ 19 May, 2019 7:00am Unfortunately we have inherited a bespoke businessman who puts his business ventures, sitting on boards of companies, money and the opportunity to increase his ’profile’ and move up the coporate ladder above everything else. Anyone who feels the need to own a $20 million Westmere home, most likely has no clue about low to middle class citizens or the price of milk or how a small rates increase dramatically affects peoples income. Honestly if he can’t handle being called idiot then he probably should not be in the Council let alone the ’Mayor’ position. Good riddance Mr Powell - please feel free go back to Auckland or anywhere else where else your toffy nose wishes to take you.

Graeme Jones

Posted on 17-07-2020 19:04 | By BazzaJ

I’ve read all the comments and have come to the conclusion that the Mayor is not in touch with the people and therefore is nothing but a rich dickhead who thinks he is always right, an absolute bully.

Graeme Jones

Posted on 17-07-2020 18:58 | By BazzaJ

This council has a lot to answer for they are useless. The Mayor to me is an absolute shambolic (Todd Muller’s cliche) disaster as is his Council. He needs to go.

Gets too hot..& bails..!

Posted on 17-07-2020 17:42 | By DodgyRogy

Where is your commitment to listening to your community .. Things don’t go your way, very quick to bail out.. meow..! What a pussy..

Same old

Posted on 17-07-2020 17:17 | By Taffy

Hasn’t changed one bit since he blew up in the council meeting. He is so false it’s becoming embarrassing,as long as it goes the way he wants everything is fine however challenge him that’s a different story as can be seen from his comments and antics at this meeting. You only have to watch the council meeting streamed on Youtube he is so high and mighty .Still thinks he is in the army -dare challenge me at your peril!

One Vote

Posted on 17-07-2020 16:30 | By Equality

The Mayor regardless of his rude, high and mighty attitude has only one vote on the council. Sooner or later those other members on the council must surely see that by backing him, they too will lose their meat tickets at the next election. Powell should be ashamed of himself!

Surprised

Posted on 17-07-2020 16:07 | By Slim Shady

He walked out. I thought he enjoyed a brawl? Oh no, forgot, he goes down easily, so good decision Sir.

Agreed

Posted on 17-07-2020 15:16 | By Slim Shady

There are lots of people feeling very foolish now. They fell for the Colonel tag. Did people not understand how the military operates? Put it right next time for goodness sake.

Chair person!?

Posted on 17-07-2020 14:49 | By Kancho

In my mind regardless of everything the chair lost control and should have reminded those present that whilst questions and criticism maybe valid it should never descend to personal attack by anyone. It would be libelous to call someone a liar in public but it shows an unbecoming level of ignorance and rudeness. Sadly comudgeons are everywhere and give the elderly a bad name. Philip Brown probably lost an impartiality he should have at least attempted to run a better meeting. It’s hard for those attending to get information with a sideshow hijacking proceedings. Shame on the chair, shame on person or persons driven by factless disruption spoiling any hope of information or productive conversation. I would have left like Tenby if I was in the meeting as he says it’s pointless to let agreesive people who have a fixed mind and agenda get away with bad behaviour.

Oh dear!

Posted on 17-07-2020 13:54 | By nerak

The veneer is thinning... Must remember Powell, you’re not in the army now.

No surprises there then!

Posted on 17-07-2020 13:03 | By Andrew64

Mayoral walk out. Lord Powell doesn’t like to be challenged by his serfs! This Mayor won’t be getting off his high-horse any time soon. Bring on the next election so we can have a Mayor who believes in democracy not autocracy.

Not my Mayor

Posted on 17-07-2020 12:51 | By BryanBOP

I didn’t vote for this guy and I am glad. Tenby is part of the entitled elite and has no time for anyone who doesn’t think like him. He can’t relate to the average person and I doubt he cares what they think. Time people started to realise this.

Forwards or Backwards

Posted on 17-07-2020 12:47 | By Avman

Mr Powell said that one woman called him an incompetent idiot, and that was unacceptable. He then went on to describe all previous councils as incompetent. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. He states that the previous councils were not able in all of those years to give away the Elms land that the ratepayers own, and he claims that as a victory? It wasn’t that they couldn’t throw the land away Mr Powell, it is that it is totally wrong to do so. Congratulations on your success in giving away ratepayers assets in a dictatorial fashion. And in terms of the nasty comment that Tauranga is incapable of moving forward, we most certainly are, it’s just moving backwards that we don’t like, and this mayor is doing just that.

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