Hawkins under pressure from all sides

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins has copped a stinging attack from within his own council and more criticism from the chairman of another.

The mayor had sought to avoid taking a strong stance against a key element of the Government’s controversial Three Waters reforms, city councillor Jim O’Malley said.

Cr O’Malley was incensed by what he saw as the mayor’s failure to seriously challenge the Government’s drive to create water entities that would take over responsibilities from councils.

The senior councillor’s frustration has grown in the past year and he seemed to take issue with flippant snippets Mr Hawkins sometimes offered at meetings.

"I am making a stand against poor leadership characterised by ... sarcasm worthy of the worst school-age child," Cr O’Malley said.

"There are those who will say that councillors should not be fighting.

"To follow the metric of keeping up appearances in the environment of poor leadership would mean that his bad behaviour would be rewarded by my silence."

Cr O’Malley said he did not intend to seek the mayoralty.

Mr Hawkins said he had been consistent in representing council positions as mayor.

"It is worth other elected members considering whether they have done the same," Mr Hawkins said.

Mr Hawkins had called for councils and communities to be able to properly consider the effect of reform and he said the Government had provided assurances councils would be allowed to choose to opt in or out.

"I’m extremely disappointed that those pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and that the decision has been taken away from us, but I see little value in continuing to holler into the void."

Otago Regional Council chairman Andrew Noone added to criticism of Mr Hawkins by singling him out as an obstacle to the two councils agreeing on joint governance for a programme aimed at making South Dunedin more resilient.

Mr Hawkins said it was a bottom line for the city council, not just him, that "decision-making on issues under our delegation sits solely with us".

Cr O’Malley’s comments followed a chaotic conclusion to a council meeting this week, when councillors tried to sum up how angry they were about the Government forcing councils to participate in the reform of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.

The disappointment conveyed in a notice of motion Mr Hawkins put before councillors was deemed by some to be insufficient.

Councillors voted down three out of his four points and endorsed part of an alternative notice of motion from Cr O’Malley that called for a reset of the reform programme and affirmed lack of support for the water entities.

Cr O’Malley was miffed the mayor had produced a notice when the councillor had made it obvious at a previous meeting one was coming from him.

"My only interpretation as to why the mayor had put his notice of motion up was that he intended to stamp his authority as the only spokesperson for the council," Cr O’Malley said.

Mr Hawkins said he offered Cr O’Malley the chance to find common ground between the notices, but this was not taken up.

In a lengthy account provided to the Otago Daily Times, Cr O’Malley laid out concerns about how he believed the mayor had shown he was of a mind to accept the Government’s planned water entities without pushback.

He presented the mayor as a leader "trying his best not to act".

Mr Hawkins said lack of information about the Government’s proposal had worried him initially, which had made it difficult for councils to express informed views.

He pledged to continue to "work constructively with government, iwi and others to ensure our concerns about the system design are heard in Wellington."




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Hawkins is our worst mayor in at least 20 years- a virtue signalling mayor focussed on the Green party philosophies rather than the needs of the ratepayer.

The Hawkins problem is just the tip of the iceberg. He leads a Council that does not represent the aspirations of the people of Dunedin and has neither the skills, vision or leadership qualities that our city needs. The Executive and management team established by the Council are lacking in ability, qualifications and experience. This has been demonstrated through their handling of the contaminated drinking water crisis, South Dunedin flooding and DCC businesses such as Aurora Energy. We have seen huge increases in rates with millions of dollars wasted on silly projects such as road paintings and cycle ways the are only used by a fraction of the population. DCC is out of it’s depth and needs a complete refit of Councillors and staff.

Totally agree......

Time for the Mayor to hit the road.
(with his thumb out for a lift)

ORC’s Councillor Noone’s criticism of Hawkins is a bit rich. ORC Councillors were recently threatened with removal and replacement by Commissioners. ORC handling of water and air issues has been a disgrace, a senior councillor resigned because of infighting. The kettle is really trying to call the pan black!

I'm not sure why Hawkins is jumping in with this government's mandate on 3 waters. All councils and indeed all New Zealanders should be up in arms over a government changing legislation (more than once) to get what they want. This is a slippery slope...

There are no surprises here. As Pinkney says, Hawkins is by far the worst mayor in 20 years at least and following the last one, that takes some doing. He has done more damage to Dunedin than any single person I can think of and just doesn't realise it. Worse still, he is supported by a group of 'yes' councillors who should know better. Time for a good clear out.

I support 3 waters and a nation wide approach to water quality. I do not support Jim O’Malley or his personality attack. I would prefer a mayor to have more Green policies though I do support the current Mayor while he is in office. The character attacks happening in Dunedin politics are not needed or helpful. As for the ORC, their personality attack on Marion Hobbs was appalling

Have you attended or viewed council meetings and observed how Hawkins speaks to some other councillors? Do you think the premeditated use of standing orders to shut down democratic discussions or his condesending language is acceptable or is that ok?

Agree with that. I get the impression that Hawkins thinks it's clever to be rude, along the lines of the famous English parliamentary exchange: 'You, sir, will certainly either die upon the gallows or of the pox.'
Supposedly 'clever' reply: "That depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
So passé. Just nasty boy stuff.

Sadly most green policies are badly thought out and will do little to improve the environment and lots to lower the standard of living of most New Zealanders. Politics is politics; if they can't take the heat then don't go in the kitchen. As for Hobbs, what she tried to do was appalling, glad to see the back of her.

I find this article quite confused and biased. I can see that the author Grant Miller is attempting to stir up opposition to the Mayor.
This article is based on an overly long statement from Cr O’Malley that the ODT has selected parts to report. Shame on you again, ODT for poor reporting.

In the space of a few days we’ve had an editorial trying extraordinary hard to make Groundswell credible when all evidence illustrates it’s not. Then today the ODT political reporter writes enthusiastically about Jackie Dean totally absolving her of any involvement in Collins demise referencing it all as fact when much is still conjecture. Then two articles attacking Hawkins that seem rather storm in tea cup. Seriously, even after speaking with people who work for Three Waters they are more than happy to see it centralized. My point is the ODT is illustrating its conservatism and rural emphasis. What about an expose of the ORC inaction on just about everything…?

Your viewpoint re Groundswell reflects a lack of knowledge of and empathy for the rural sector.

If you look closely at Groundswell, and not at poor reporting through some media outlets, you would realise it is very reasonable. Here we have a large group of experienced farmers trying to do their best but being told what to do by politicians who probably don't know what a paddock is. They are rightly sick and tired of being bullied and pilloried by the ignorant so they are standing up for themselves. All power to them and I know they are doing their best not to be tainted by the anti-vaxx brigade and other conspiracy nutmegs.

I think Hawkins's unfitness for the mayoralty will virtually guarantee Vandervis wins next election. There's no doubt Vandervis will speak up for Dunedin's interests and be extremely outspoken and ill-mannered if necessary to get the message across. A very strong and direct message is what NZ, the South Island particularly, is going to need in local government over the next few years, as the Labour/Green party utopians try to abolish local government and give Maori a 50% 'partnership' in the administration of natural water.

Why not Jules Radich for mayor.More moderate than Hawkins or Van Der Vis.

The Mayor needs to go. But keep in mind Dunedin, you voted for him.

Only 45% voter turn-out in Dunedin last election.

Three Waters debate may appear to be over, for now. However, given all the money being spent each week on our covid response, can they really afford to be spending tax money creating such large and unwieldy entities. Historically, they have never worked and tax money has been lost dismantling them. Not to mention, this was a decision that should have been put before the entire country, because it involves all ratepayers, taxpayers and voters.

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