Tauranga's newly elected members have held their first meeting since the local body elections, and it was not without division.
New councillors Tina Salisbury, Dawn Kiddie, Heidi Hughes, Andrew Hollis, Jako Abrie and mayor Tenby Powell joined seasoned elected members John Robson, Steve Morris, Bill Grainger, Kelvin Clout and Larry Baldock at Tauranga City Council's chambers for the inaugural meeting today.
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Among items on the agenda were appointments of chairpeople and deputies for the council's standing and special committees.
Baldock and Hughes were appointed chairman and deputy of the council's Urban Form Transport Committee, Morris and Kiddie were named chairman and deputy of the Policy Committee, Clout and Abrie chairman and deputy of Projects, Services and Operation Committee, and Powell and Salisbury interim chairman and deputy of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.
Councillors appointed to the Tangata Whenua Committee were Salisbury, Hughes, Grainger, Clout, Abrie and Baldock alternating with Powell. The appointments were carried with only Robson opposing the motion.
Robson raised issues with the proposal to appoint an independent chairperson for the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee, with Powell the acting chairman for the time being.
Robson, who was ousted from his former role as chair of the committee, said he was concerned the council was potentially treating the issue of finances too lightly.
"I'd like to see some rationale to this structure," he said.
"It is an area of significant weakness for this council. Our general manager is on record as saying we have no financial strategy. I fear [financial matters] may not get the appropriate weighting."
Baldock said he felt the proposal, and interim appointment of Powell as chairman, was fair and "if we find we are dealing with issues that are of council business ... perhaps we might look at an amendment going but today, we carry on, find that person to appoint to the role".
Powell told councillors "we have some really big decisions to make to move the city forward".
He listed infrastructure, housing development "and those big-ticket items" as examples.
His preference was to have a professional, independent chair of finance with a history of governance.
"This person does necessarily need to come from Tauranga but it would be great if he or she did. We need the best," Powell said.
Elected members were seated in alphabetical order but the prospect of rearranging the seats was proposed by Hughes, who was keen for reconfiguring the chambers to allow for more engagement with members of the public, often seated facing the backs of half of the councillors.
Powell acknowledged the suggestion but explained it was not feasible as the cameras that filmed council meeting were positioned in such a way to ensure each elected member was captured.