Napier mayor Kirsten Wise is seeking answers from the Minister of Health over the rejection of any Napier representation on the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.
"It's really, really disappointing," she says. "I'm not happy. It's quite bewildering. I will write to the minister — again."
It's sparked by fears of how Napier, the only city without a public hospital among the 12 biggest cities in New Zealand, will fare as the Government revamps hospital and public health services throughout the country.
Napier Hospital closed in 1998 amid regional hospital centralisation in Hastings, day-patient and outpatient Napier substitute the Napier Health Centre has faced continual question over its services, including possible overnight closure, and a new private hospital is planned for Hastings.
• Local Focus: Crowded field for Hawke's Bay District Health Board election
• Controversial Hawke's Bay District Health Board member, Jacoby Poulain hits out against board
• HB DHB member Jacoby Poulain not re-elected
• Premium - The DHB chair mystery: Health minister could cause massive Hawke's Bay political shake-up
The health board's makeup for the next three years was confirmed on Friday when minister David Clark named four non-Napier Government appointees, including a deputy chairman from Auckland, to join the seven chosen by public vote in the recent local election, also without anyone from Napier.
In making the announcements — with 62 new appointees among the 76 appointments to DHBs throughout the country including 13 new chairmans — Clark said the boards "need to reflect the communities they serve".
The Napier urban area, from Bay View to Taradale and Waiohiki, has about 64,000 of the 165,000 people in the board's area, but both Wise and Opposition National Party Tukituki MP and former Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule challenge Clark on whether Napier has been served at all in the first DHB appointments since the new Labour-led Government was installed two years ago.
But Labour's Napier MP and Cabinet minister Stuart Nash says he has no concerns that there's no one from Napier on the board, and with Government and DHBs having to combat the impact of "nine years of neglect" of the health system by the previous National-led Government, he is confident every member will make decisions "in the best interests of the whole of Hawke's Bay".
Alarm-bells about the lack of anyone from Napier started ringing immediately after the elections and both Wise and long-serving DHB chairman and No 1 public board member-elect Kevin Atkinson made representations.
Flying nurse brings experience to Hawke's Bay
Bush fires bring spectacular sunrise to Hawke's Bay
Hastings hit-and-run: Man remains critical after saving toddler's life
Atkinson, who lost the job of chairman in the shakeup but retains his elected position on the board, regarded it as his duty, as it had been after each previous election, to point out areas that would need addressing to complete the makeup.
Wise, a career accountant who had about 10 years involvement with the DHB, as an employee and, for three years, as a member, wasted no time writing to the minister after she became mayor two months ago.
She has made suggestions on who might be appointed, saying she "will write to the minister again expressing my concerns."
Yule, who as mayor of Hastings promoted a local-bodies amalgamation in Hawke's Bay (defeated in a public referendum in 2015), said the DHB appointments have left Napier "out in the cold".
"Napier is a city of almost 70,000 people and had three representatives on the previous DHB," he said.
The new board situation would be "incredibly disappointing for Napier," he said, and added: "They are only just getting over the loss of their hospital and are still advocating for better health services. No longer having any DHB representation will only add to the frustration."
The DHB system was set-up with ministerial appointments to fill cultural, geographical and skill gaps, he said.
"Dr Clark has publicly stated his wish to have more diversity in governance positions, but in the process he's left out an entire city," Yule said. "The local Labour MP for Napier is a senior Cabinet minister, yet he let his colleague forget his own electorate."
Yule noted there is also no representative from central Hawke's Bay, despite mayor Alex Walker asking for one.
Nash said he doubted the new board would see the types of parochialism that had "dogged" the past.
"I have great confidence in this board to do a fantastic job for Hawke's Bay," he said.