Tauranga City Mayor Tenby Powell is defending his decision to walk out of a public meeting in Papamoa this week.
The Papamoa Residents & Ratepayers Association ran two campaigns earlier this year supporting a zero rates increase and encouraging residents to send protest emails to the mayor about the wetland planting in the Wairakei waterways around Palm Beach West.
The mayor was invited to speak at the association’s monthly meeting on Monday night but, following a heated moment during question time, association chair Philip Brown says the mayor left the meeting.
Powell says the meeting became “abusive and threatening”.
“I did frame with Philip the minute I walked in that if it becomes abusive and threatening, then I'll leave. It did in my view and I left,” says Powell.
“He blew up at the end,” says a resident who wishes to remain anonymous.
“Not many were impressed, he walked out after speaking and didn’t stay for the rest of the meeting. He avoided asking questions, blamed previous council, name dropped.”
Powell says he was there for an hour and a half and answered questions honestly.
“There were a couple of very aggressive people at the end and history has taught me it's best to not engage at that point.
“I expect to be challenged, but I don't expect to be abused.”
Phillip says it was “a positive meeting” that “just maybe finished on a little bit of a low note”.
“Everybody was pleased to have seen the mayor and to have heard from him even if they didn’t agree with the story,” says Philip.
Councillor Dawn Kiddie says she was “disappointed in the mayor” because Papamoa ratepayers had waited a long time to meet him in person.
“This was a great opportunity for him to engage with really nice people.”
Powell told the Weekend Sun on Wednesday the council does need to be better at “explaining
“I said very clearly last night (Monday) that we could do a lot better in respect of that,” says Powell.
He said from his perspective they had achieved more in six months than the previous council achieved in three years.
He also then lamented the difficulties in trying to get the city to move forward.
“To get the city to move forward, there is absolutely no way that's going to happen and I recognise that now.”
He said there was split voting in the previous council, as there is now.
“The only difference is, I didn’t run for mayor to join the council club, I joined to break the stranglehold that some of the old members have negatively had on this city and to move it forward progressively.
“I made it very clear that for those that don't like that, they have a democratic option in two-and-a-half years to vote in a new mayor.”
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