Wellington mayor Andy Foster has been criticised for planning an overseas trip to the capital's sister city, Canberra, so close to local body elections.
Furthermore, the chief executive of one of the organisations that's meant to be joining Foster on the trip knew nothing about it.
Foster said the trip was a chance to re-engage the important sister city relationship, which was the mayor's responsibility irrespective of who held office.
He pointed out a previous trip to Canberra last year, which councillors had approved, was cancelled due to Covid-19.
City councillors have been asked to approve the $4500 trip at a meeting today.
The trip is scheduled for mid-July as candidate nominations open for local body elections. It comes three months before election day itself.
Councillor Nicola Young said the trip was a good idea, but it should take place after the election.
She said there was no point in building a relationship with someone who could soon be voted out.
"It's all about relationship building, and we don't know who is going to be the mayor after the elections."
"It's not a great deal of money, apparently it's $4500, but that's one person's rates bill for the year. It might be seen to be being a bit mean, but it's a matter of principle. I treat ratepayers' money as carefully, if not more carefully, than if it was my own."
The council's meeting agenda said representatives from WellingtonNZ, Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Wellington Zoo, and Wellington businesses would join Foster on the visit.
But Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus said he knew nothing about it.
"We always want to do what we can to support the council and their activities, but it's always good to have some advance warning of these ideas.
In a statement, the mayor's office said that regrettably there was an administrative oversight which led to Arcus not being informed in advance.
"His office has now been contacted with a heartfelt apology and to outline the opportunity to him."
The trip has been pitched as an opportunity to re-engage with Canberra and promote Wellington's reputation as a globally connected city ready to engage in strategic and business relationships.
Foster said the main reasons for the proposed visit were broad-based.
"[They] include supporting discussions around business co-operation, informing decision making, discussing urban growth challenges, and to gain insights from their light rail project."
The trip shouldn't come as a surprise, Foster said, after councillors approved a mayoral visit to Australia last year that was cancelled because of a Covid-19-related closure of the border.
"There have been a number of other proposed visits to Canberra that were cancelled too.
"I'd add that Councillor Young has been consistent in her criticism of me, so her raising this as an issue also comes as no surprise."