1 Dec 2023

Councillor says Wellington mayor Tory Whanau should resign - 'It's not working'

10:12 am on 1 December 2023
Wellington mayor Tory Whanau

Wellington city councillors are divided on whether mayor Tory Whanau should stay in the role. File photo Photo: Supplied/ Tory Whanau

A Wellington City councillor says mayor Tory Whanau isn't able to give "the 150 percent that's needed" to lead the capital and should resign from the role.

The mayor has disclosed she has a drinking problem and was getting professional help. Following questions by RNZ about an incident at a Wellington bar this month, the mayor said she was "embarrassed" to discover she had been filmed.

Councillors at a meeting on Thursday told RNZ they had confidence in the mayor. Environment and Infrastructure Committee chair Tim Brown opened the meeting offering the mayor his personal support, while Rebecca Matthews disputed an accusation that Whanau rarely attended meetings in person as "completely inaccurate."

However others questioned whether the mayor should remain in the role; Nicola Young said she should resign so the city could have "strong leadership" and Ray Chung said it was hard to see how Whanau could stay in the role.

City councillor Tony Randle told Morning Report the mayor should step back and take care of herself.

"I think she should resign.

"The council's not coming together underneath her leadership, and the communication is not really happening through the mayoral office that needs to happen.

"We've got massive problems financially, and also in in terms of some of the direction that the city is going and Tory is just not there.

"I hate saying this because I wanted her succeed ... and it could well be that she is going to succeed eventually, but right at this minute, from what I can see, it's not working."

Randle said the mayor seemed from his experience to be increasingly remote.

"She's executing a code of conduct complaint against five councillors, so the Council is quite divided."

Whanau in October sent official warnings to five councillors - including Diane Calvert, Ray Chung, Tony Randle and Nicola Young - for breaching confidentiality over their public comments on the city's financial woes.

"I'm glad she's getting support and and help that she she needs, and I fully support her personally, but I'm concerned she's not able to give the the 100 percent, 150 percent, that's needed to be mayor of the capital city," Randle said.

He said cancelling councillor-only sessions had removed one of the main forums for councillors to communicate what they thought.

Councillor Rebecca Matthews said on Thursday Whanau had good attendance record at meetings, and had repeatedly offered all councillors one-on-one meetings to discuss their priorities for the Long-Term Plan.

Motukairangi/Eastern Ward councillor Sarah Free and councillor Nīkau Wi Neera have also expressed support.

Green MP Julie Anne Genter slammed the media over "double standards" for airing stories about the Wellington mayor being drunk in public. "We've had male politicians who are regularly drunk in public for decades and who never get any sort of criticism for it."

Whanau said she had received hundreds of messages of support after admitting to having a drinking problem.

She told RNZ on Thursday she was deeply thankful for the support and was looking forward to getting stuck back into the mahi.

She hoped others who might be struggling with alcohol issues could see that there was support out there also.

People were able to seek help and still commit to their passions, work, family, friends in a way that was meaningful.

Whanau has Covid-19 and attended Thursday's Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting via Zoom.

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