Wellington mayor Andy Foster has declared war on his own council, whether he intended to or not.
He was photographed at the weekend seemingly pitching tents with a group of local iwi who are now occupying land at Shelly Bay.
Many around the council table are fuming.
Foster is a long-standing opponent of a housing development at Shelly Bay, Miramar.
But he's the mayor now and his council has just voted to sell and lease land it owns to make way for the 350 new homes.
The vote signalled an agreement to stay out of iwi politics and to leave such decisions to the High Court.
Foster's very presence at the beginning of what's set to be a months-long land occupation does fly in the face of what Wellington City Council has just agreed to.
Foster says the tent he was photographed with had already been erected and he was just being a "good camper" by helping out with a broken pole.
He claims he received an invitation to a "community gathering" and when questioned, couldn't seem to recall who sent it or whether it was clear the event was the beginning of a land occupation.
Foster rejects his attendance signalled a declaration of war on his own council.
That didn't wash with many councillors, who say he has shown a total disregard for the will of the council he is supposed to be leading and has thrown them into uncharted waters.
Foster has essentially broken their trust.
The mayor and many of his fellow councillors are all too familiar with having a fraught relationship.
In April this year he called in a facilitator to help sort out what was increasingly a divided council, as tensions boiled over.
This was after Foster attended a $30,000 leadership course at a luxury resort paid for from the ratepayers' purse.
The Shelly Bay situation is far more serious than Foster's inability to find common ground with his councillors.
He has explicitly undermined his elected colleagues by attending the occupation, and whatever he was doing with the tent, on Sunday.
But furthermore, he has also undermined the entire council as an organisation.
Foster has gone rogue.
The issues at the Wellington City Council are playing out against a backdrop of local government meltdowns across the country.
Tauranga City Council mayor Tenby Powell has resigned after the council voted to bring in a Crown manager.
It follows ongoing conflict and dysfunction among elected members.
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is now considering appointing commissioners to take over the council.
There are a range of interventions available including, at the higher end of the scale, a Crown observer (to assist the council), a Crown manager (to direct the council), or commissioners (to replace the council).
Meanwhile, an independent review of Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt has found he is struggling to carry out significant aspects of his role.
The report highlighted a leadership void, but Sir Tim said he would not resign.
The governance review was carried out after the Department of Internal Affairs began an investigation in August in response to concerns raised about the performance of the mayor and councillors.
The Shelly Bay situation was already a fiasco without Foster's Sunday appearance.
The big question now facing the Wellington City Council is whether the issue of leadership can be resolved without central government intervention.