Christine Rankin has the worst attendance record among elected members of Greater Auckland's major councils.
The North Shore resident and newly appointed Families Commissioner skipped almost half the council and committee meetings to which she was invited since the local body elections in October 2007.
The attendance records of the 84 members of the Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere City Councils and Auckland Regional Council varied widely.
Rankin attended just 51 per cent of the 100-plus meetings to which she was invited, but Auckland City councillor Bill Christian attended all of his 68.
Rankin could not be reached for comment. A man who answered her phone said: "Not interested, sorry, bye," and hung up.
ARC chairman Mike Lee was reluctant to criticise her performance, saying she was a busy person.
"While it's true she may not have attended as many meetings as others, she has been a constructive, positive member of the ARC."
Local government minister Rodney Hide said he preferred to judge people by what they got done, rather than how many meetings they attended.
But he said councillors hoping to serve Auckland under the Supercity structure being introduced from next year would have to "step up enormously".
In Manukau, long-serving Papatoetoe councillor Bob Wichman showed up to just 48 out of 90 meetings so far this term. He missed more meetings than mayor Len Brown, who was granted several months leave after suffering a heart attack.
"I haven't tried to cover up the fact that I don't go as much as I'd like to," Wichman said.
He blamed the council's new policy of holding more meetings during the day, which he said meant hiring someone to fill in at his home appliance business. But Wichman said it hadn't stopped him working hard for the community. "There's a lot more to being a councillor than sitting in committee meetings. I think I've done a good job over the years and I think I'm doing a good job now."
Manukau councillor Alf Filipaina said he had problems fitting meetings around his responsibilities as a fulltime police officer. His attendance rate had improved since some meeting start times had been shifted back to 5pm.
Anne Candy said her workload as chairwoman of Manukau's environmental hearings committee, which can mean attending resource consent hearings for up to three months, often clashed with meetings.
North Shore mayor Andrew Williams had the busiest schedule of any of the region's mayors, showing up to more than 80 sessions - more than any of his counterparts.
But council minutes show Williams was also recorded absent 34 times, although on 17 occasions he was on council business.
Williams said he objected to "pathetic little queries" about councillors' attendance and it wasn't a mayor's job to sit through meetings.
"The mayor is elected at large by the people to do things for the city, not sit around a committee table."
He had been to "probably several thousand" meetings in the past two years with Government ministers, other mayors, and residents.
"My day sometimes starts at 7.30am and finishes at 11pm."
In Waitakere, Ross Dallow said a family illness was the reason for missing 30 per cent of his meetings.
Regional councillor Michael Barnett, who made it to 57 per cent of the ARC's standing committee meetings, said he focused his attention on his specialist areas of economic development and transport.
In other committees he would have little to contribute, he said.
Others among the 10 with the worst attendance records, John Walker, Warren Flaunty and Ross Clow, could not be reached for comment.
The regional council is Auckland's only local body to link pay to meeting attendance. Salaries starting at $22,750 for members with no responsibilities are bumped up $230 a day for attending meetings.
Elected members at the four city councils get only a base salary, so there's no financial benefit in attending meetings - and no loss for failing to show up.
Base rates for city councillors range from $48,855 to $57,435, while those who lead major committees earn between $68,000 and $78,975.
Under the new Supercity council, to be introduced in October next year, councillors will represent bigger wards.
Hide said the success of the new structure would depend on the quality of the people elected. "The new Auckland council will have the capacity to make such a big difference. Whether it does or not depends on the calibre of people that stand, and the people of Auckland voting for them."
* Mayor Williams blasts 'pathetic little queries'
Our requests for meeting attendance records received different responses at the five major councils around Auckland.
Manukau City and Waitakere City supplied full details promptly. Auckland City met our request a day later than agreed.
The Auckland Regional Council agreed to provide the figures but later said they couldn't because staff were away sick. And North Shore City directed the Herald on Sunday to minutes on its website.
Mayor Andy Williams said the request was "a load of nonsense". "We have got so much to do without stupid little reporters like you wasting ... time like this.
"What a load of crap. You just really disappoint me," Williams said. "Do you think we've got the time to muck around with pathetic little queries like this?"
He said there was "full and open disclosure" of all council minutes and agendas.
The director of AUT's local government centre, Peter McKinlay, said, "The public is entitled to know that their representatives are on the job."By Heather McCracken