Councillors’ views vary on Invercargill mayor’s conduct

As Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark faces a second code of conduct complaint, some of his colleagues at the council table have shared their disappointment and frustration.

But others are standing by the first-term mayor, saying he is doing a good job.

This week, it was revealed a second complaint had been made against Mr Clark in as many months, this time from an external party.

It followed a complaint by Crs Ria Bond and Ian Pottinger in April regarding the mayor’s appearance on satirical news show New Zealand Today, where he repeated a racial slur he had drawn criticism for in 2023.

Both complaints are undergoing a determination and investigation process, with little revealed about the most recent.

The mayor declined requests for comment from Local Democracy Reporting, but did provide further information in a sit-down interview with news blog What’s On Invers.

Alex Crackett. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Alex Crackett. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The second complaint related to comments at a meeting he attended, he said, adding he had since apologised.

Five of the city’s 12 councillors have weighed in on how they view the mayor’s potential breaches of the code, offering a range of views.

Cr Alex Crackett said she was "absolutely disappointed" because the complaints took away from the good work the council was doing.

"At the end of the process, there’s not a lot of power in the Local Government Act to actually really penalise the member aside from public scrutiny," she said.

"It’s a bit of an unfortunate wet fish."

Cr Steve Broad said public criticism was inevitable and it was important everyone did their best to honour the role.

"I think it’s just a reminder for me as a councillor, feeling very privileged to be in this role, that we are public-facing representatives and our community and our ratepayers will fairly hold us to a certain standard."


Cr Barry Stewart took a different tack, saying the mayor was doing a good job and should be left alone, while Cr Trish Boyle felt being in public office left people vulnerable.

"I have full confidence in Nobby. These codes of conduct may show that there’s reasons for concern, and so be it," Cr Boyle said.

"As a council, we are really working collaboratively well. Even with two councillors bringing code of conduct [complaints], the work has gone on as usual."

For Cr Peter Kett, the recent issues were a chance to reflect on the fact multiple complaints had been lodged at the council over the years.

He questioned what those had achieved.

Crs Pottinger, Allan Arnold, Lesley Soper, Darren Ludlow and Grant Dermody all declined to comment, alongside deputy mayor Tom Campbell, while Cr Bond did not respond.

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It is not the first time Mr Clark has been in the spotlight regarding the code of conduct.

While still a city councillor in 2020, he was found to be in breach for questioning the truthfulness of then-chief executive Clare Hadley at a public meeting.

The cost of that investigation was $10,000.

In his interview with What’s On Invers - released on Thursday - Mr Clark also took the opportunity to express a lack of tolerance for mainstream media, which he accused of "gaslighting".

He has recently made changes to the way he deals with media requests, asking for queries to be directed through the council’s communications team in the first instance.

• LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.