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Akuhata-Brown resigns from GDC transport committee, tired of ‘internal politics’

Gisborne district councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown has resigned from the council's regional transport committee, saying she is tired of the internal politics that have left her without a leadership role in her third term.

Councillors voted in support of her replacement, councillor Andy Cranston, at their final meeting for 2019 on December 19.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz said she asked Cr Akuhata-Brown why she had put herself forward for the committee only to resign a few weeks into the 2019 council term. She said Cr Akuhata-Brown realised she should not have put her name down from the outset.

It was understood Cr Akuhata-Brown resigned from the committee due to a part-time job outside of the council that would take up more of her time than anticipated, said Mayor Stoltz, who spoke to The Gisborne Herald from the airport in Johannesburg yesterday ahead of flying back to Gisborne following a summer break.

Cr Akuhata Brown said she did not want to go into detail with the mayor about why she resigned.

Yesterday she told the Herald she wanted to make every minute count.

“I'm not going to waste my time, in my view, where I'm not respected or given the space to grow,” the 49-year-old said.

She had sat on the regional transport committee since 2013 and was set to be its chairwoman last term before being pipped at the post by councillor Bill Burdett, who put his name forward for the job when he returned to a full council meeting where the chairmanship was being voted on. At that stage Cr Akuhata-Brown's appointment had been all but decided.

Cr Burdett's deputy was first-time councillor Malcolm MacLean.

This term, as well as wanting to be deputy chairwoman of the regional transport committee — which is being led by Cr Seymour, with Cr Burdett as deputy chairman — Cr Akuhata-Brown wanted to be the mayoral appointee to Trust Tairawhiti on the basis she had worked in the community for decades.

But the trust role went to another councillor, Shannon Dowsing, who was one of six elected members vying for the position.

Cr Akuhata-Brown said after six years on the committee, she had developed a good understanding of regional transport issues as well as good relationships with New Zealand Transport Agency staff.

She felt the committee was not given an opportunity to debate the appointment of Cr Burdett as deputy chairman at its first meeting on November 21.

Despite this, Cr Akuhata-Brown seconded Cr Seymour's move to appoint Cr Burdett as deputy chairman at the meeting.

“I sensed, in that moment, (the decision to appoint Cr Burdett) was a done deal,” said Cr Akuhata-Brown of her decision to endorse Cr Seymour's resolution.

It reflected her frustration at not being considered for the role, but in hindsight she should have “made a fuss” at the meeting and would in the future be focused on challenging decision-making she viewed as undemocratic.

Cr Akuhata-Brown said there were “exciting things on the horizon” for her personal and professional development, and a tilt at national politics may be part of that.

She had potentially lined up a part-time job – to supplement her $44,009 annual councillor salary – and would study political science extramurally through Victoria University of Wellington.

Mayor Stoltz said she appointed Cr Cranston to the regional transport committee as she needed an experienced Gisborne ward councillor to sit alongside the three rural councillors, including Kerry Worsnop and councillors Seymour and Burdett, who make up the committee along with an NZTA representative.

See also editorial

Meredith Akuhata-Brown, who has resigned from the Gisborne District Council's regional transport committee, said there were 'exciting things on the horizon' for her personal and professional development, and a tilt at national politics may be part of that.

  1. Williem says:

    Good on you Meredith