Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull's plea for a fresh start fell
on deaf ears yesterday, after Cr Lee Vandervis mounted a bid
to grab more power at the inaugural meeting of the new
Dunedin City Council.
Cr Vandervis tried unsuccessfully to push for a vote on
changes to Mr Cull's appointments, announced last week, which
left the mayor's most vocal critic out in the cold without a
Cr Vandervis yesterday suggested himself as chairman of the
infrastructure services committee, instead of Mr Cull's
choice of Cr Kate Wilson.
He also recommended first-term councillor Hilary Calvert as
the city's deputy mayor, replacing Mr Cull's pick of
incumbent Cr Chris Staynes.
Both suggestions failed to win support as all councillors,
except Cr Calvert, instead voted to note - and thereby
endorse - Mr Cull's original selections.
Cr Calvert chose to abstain rather than ''bless'' the
appointments made by Mr Cull, saying she was ''slightly
uncomfortable'' some of the choices did not ''totally reflect
the views of the voters''.
''I feel I'm being encouraged to, in some way, bless the
decision that you have made,'' she told Mr Cull.
''I'm comfortable that you're in a position to make them, but
I'm not feeling it's part of my role to be involved in it.''
The exchanges came just minutes after the new council was led
into the debating chamber by a lone piper, before receiving a
mihi whakatau (welcome) and being sworn in before a packed
Mr Cull, in his opening remarks, said the new term was the
chance for a ''fresh start with a new mandate'', and hoped
for an ''exciting and constructive'' three years ahead.
But the positive vibe started to fade minutes later, when Cr
Vandervis questioned the process being used to find a
replacement for outgoing council chief executive Paul Orders.
Cr Vandervis tried unsuccessfully to have an update on the
process moved from the non-public to the public part of
yesterday's meeting, and to extend the applications deadline,
which closed on October 11.
Both bids failed after eventually being considered in the
non-public section, and Mr Cull defended the recruitment
process after the meeting.
He told the Otago Daily Times the process had been
repeatedly endorsed by all councillors except Cr Vandervis,
whose continued criticism was ''not only inappropriate and
misplaced - it's just vexatious''.
Cr Vandervis denied that last night, saying he was simply
raising concerns about the short application period for the
role, as well as a lack of input into the advertised job
description by councillors.
''I have been keen to avoid any suggestion of
predetermination in the chief executive search process and I
am keen to give the very widest range of candidates time to
''We desperately need another truly remarkable chief
executive to continue the work that [Paul] Orders has
started,'' he said.
A report by the council's recruitment consultant, EQI Global,
outlining the recruitment process, was considered in a
non-public session yesterday but released to media after the
Earlier, Mr Cull - after being helped into his robe by Mr
Orders and swearing his own oath - said it was a
''privilege'' to again serve as mayor and welcome new
councillors to the fold.
He hoped the council would benefit from the new ideas and
energy new councillors brought with them, saying he was
''delighted'' by the mix of experience and new blood around
the council table.
The council faced important challenges, including the
appointment of a new chief executive and the development and
implementation of new strategies, he said.
''There's plenty of positive work to be done ... it's the
ambition of many people - elected or otherwise - to leave the
world a better place than they found it.''