Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter has withdrawn his job application for the organisation's chief executive role.
On Saturday, the Herald revealed Ponter had applied for the position, which governance experts described as a tricky situation and potentially awkward.
In a statement this morning, Ponter said that upon reflection, the best way he could serve the region was in his current role as the council's chairman.
"So I have withdrawn from the recruitment process for the CEO position.
"I'm grateful for the support of my fellow councillors who are committed to doing our best for the ratepayers and residents of Greater Wellington."
Ponter's flip-flop was followed by a statement from GWRC announcing it has extended the advertising period for its recruitment of a CEO until April 5, 2021.
Chief Executive Employment Review Committee chairwoman councillor Glenda Hughes said the extension was about ensuring a robust and fair appointment process that gave due consideration to all candidates.
"Greater Wellington is looking for the necessary leadership, vision and capability to drive the organisation and region forward, and making sure we have a rich pool of applicants is vitally important."
Ponter said the decision to withdraw from the recruitment process was his and his alone.
"My focus, as ever, is on leading GWRC to meet its priorities around the environment and public transport, and closer collaboration with our government, territorial authority, iwi and community partners."
Ponter confirmed he would not be on the short-listing selection panel for the CEO position.
He said he was confident in the panel's ability to identify candidates who met the needs of GWRC.
Mayoral Forum chairman Wayne Guppy supported Ponter's decision.
He said it was important for the whole region to have stable leadership at this time.
"The important thing is that we all get on in the region and that hasn't always been the case. Under the regional council, under Daran's leadership, there's a good strong group of leaders in the region that are really determined to make sure that Wellington is a leading place in the country."
The move to apply for the CEO position was risky for Ponter because it would be extremely difficult for him to have any credibility to continue as chairman if he was unsuccessful.
The situation was tricky because regional councillors are the ones who make the call on who gets the chief executive position.
Earlier today, councillor David Lee said Ponter was entitled to put his name forward for any position.
"I wouldn't say it's unusual, there's probably just a little bit of awkwardness that needs to be managed in a transparent way."
He was confident GWRC managed the process appropriately.
Lee himself was working as a strategic planner at GWRC when he ran in Wellington City Council's Southern Ward.
"When I decided to stand for Wellington City Council there was a little bit of tension even though it was outside my own organisation."
Councillor Roger Blakeley said he'd rather not comment as it was an employment matter.
"We haven't even heard officially who the candidates are."