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GDC to meet again over conduct issues

GISBORNE District Council will meet again tomorrow to discuss the code of conduct issues that arose after a councillor said she overheard a colleague say not enough Maori were killed by the crew of the Endeavour, acting mayor Rehette Stoltz confirmed today.

This follows media interviews yesterday and on Sunday where Meredith Akuhata-Brown said she was not satisfied with the apology she received from the councillor said to have made the comment.

Mrs Stoltz, who chaired the code of conduct board, said the council would meet to discuss what had transpired over the weekend.

“Councillors had all agreed to a way forward. Councillor Akuhata-Brown also agreed to that.

“I am disappointed that once again we are playing this out in the media,” said Mrs Stoltz.

“We are meeting to listen and understand what has changed since that agreement was made.

“We will evaluate the situation after the meeting to decide whether a further statement should be issued.”

This will be the council’s second meeting to discuss a code of conduct inquiry into the alleged remark. Three councillors were investigated and the council found that two of them had breached the code.

But after a press release on the outcome of the inquiry, Mrs Akuhata-Brown said she declined to accept the apology — which she described as a backhanded one. She said it was not fair that the threat of a defamation action meant the councillor who made the comment could not be named.

If there was another code of conduct action she said she would “wear it”.

Asked if this was having an effect on the council she said “of course this is having an effect on the reputation and image of the council”.

“It is also having an effect on the 300 staff who do a fantastic job for our community.”

In an interview on Radio New Zealand this morning, former New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd said the Gisborne situation was a strange use of a code of conduct.

It appeared the code was being used as “a kind of weapon to silence what was by all accounts a serious breach of anyone’s human, and political, rights”.

“I would argue (it) is not the best use of the code of conduct actually.

“From my experience these things should be actually debated in public.

“We are elected by the people, so going behind closed doors and trying to shut down the media and things, it just makes it worse actually.

“It should be on the table. You are answerable to the public, not to each other particularly.”

Mr Judd said there was not much a council could do — a person could be sanctioned or removed from a committee, but you could not use a code of conduct to sack somebody.

In New Plymouth there were bad breaches of the code. That was why it was held in public, so people could actually form their own opinion.

Mayoral candidate: Rehette Stoltz. File picture
GDC councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown