Nobby Clark 'medically unfit' to be mayor

Nobby Clark’s medical fitness to continue as Invercargill’s mayor has been questioned amid an avalanche of complaints ahead of a crucial meeting over his future today.

Mr Clark will be asked by councillors to resign at an extraordinary meeting following a second code of conduct complaint.

The complaint alleges poor behaviour from Mr Clark at a United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) prizegiving in March, where he was a guest of honour alongside his partner.

Included in the allegations were claims he called volunteer firefighters second-class citizens, verbally attacked the MC and disparaged young people in authority.

Invercargill city councillor Steve Broad said Mr Clark’s recent behaviour was below the honour and privilege of the role.

"As each councillor makes their decision I’d also ask the mayor to ask himself whether he is medically or otherwise fit to carry that honour at the moment."

The Southland Business Chamber also weighed in yesterday, questioning Mr Clark’s medical fitness and calling on him to stand down.

Mr Clark has since apologised for his behaviour, saying he was suffering from "brain fade" following open-heart surgery. He also maintained some of his behaviour was not as described.

However, Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan has questioned Mr Clark linking his actions to his heart surgery.

Mr Cadogan said he himself had suffered four cardiac events in the past six months.

"It’s given me chest pains, anxiety and extreme tiredness.

"But it hasn’t caused me inappropriateness."

Southland District Mayor Rob Scott said it would be inappropriate for him to say whether Mr Clark’s position was untenable.

"But in terms of the alleged conduct, I certainly don’t endorse speaking that way."

Mr Scott said it had been a tough period for local government, and "now more than ever" responsible leadership was needed.

Invercargill city councillor Ian Pottinger said the mayor should step down in the wake of the information released on Tuesday evening.

"My opinion is that you commit the crime, which is bringing disrepute to Invercargill, and really an apology of any sort won’t cut the mustard," Cr Pottinger said.

"The only fix is basically to fall on your sword and resign," he said.

The request marks a dramatic change of direction from Cr Pottinger, who in 2022, put his own mayoral aspirations aside to throw his support behind Mr Clark.

The five-term councillor said his endorsement was a matter of the options available at the time.

“At that stage we obviously seemed to be reasonably on the same platter.”

Cr Pottinger also claimed the mayor was undertaking a soon-to-be-announced “cabinet reshuffle” which would result in him losing his role as chairman of the council’s infrastructure committee following a merger.

Asked if things were now frosty between the pair, he laughed.

“No comment. We’ve got different views on life.”

The Southland Business Chamber also called for the mayor’s resignation yesterday.

In a media statement, the chamber stated Mr Clark’s actions showed a “troubling trend” that did not align with the community.

It highlighted racially and sexually insensitive language from the mayor at an Arts Foundation tour, and again on national television.

Chamber chief executive Sheree Carey said Mr Clark stepping down would be “the most responsible course of action”.

"This incident, as determined by an independent investigation, highlights a pattern of behaviour that not only breaches the expected standard of conduct for our elected city leaders but also jeopardises the reputation and future opportunities for Invercargill, and should not be tolerated."

Mr Clark had acknowledged his medical condition, which could persist for several years, was affecting his ability to perform his duties to the expected standard, she said.

"Given this admission, his resignation could be a crucial step in protecting Invercargill's reputation and ensuring progressive and representative leadership for our city."

When the mayor appeared on satirical news show New Zealand Today he repeated a racial slur he had been criticised for using at the arts event, which formed the basis of a code of conduct complaint by Crs Pottinger and Ria Bond, which is still ongoing.

Mr Clark did not wish to comment on the requests for his resignation.