I conducted in-depth ‘post-amalgamation’ video interviews this week with Mayors Yule and Dalton.

Victor and vanquished addressed the referendum campaign, mending fences, the messages they take from the 2:1 defeat of the reorganisation proposal, and ‘what happens next?’

Looking ahead, most importantly, both seem to agree that measures need to be taken to formalise to a greater extent — and give more public visibility to — some of the existing channels or forums in which greater regional collaboration might occur. And both seem to agree that most voters rejected the specific proposition before them, as opposed to rejecting the need for change in how we get things done for the betterment of the entire region.

It seems to me that puts the ball firstly in the hands of Mayor Dalton and other opponents of amalgamation. With the threat of amalgamation eliminated, how earnestly and ambitiously will our five councils, and especially elected leaders who opposed reorganisation, work together — not just on administrative efficiencies — but on making the major budget, investment and policy decisions that affect us as a region.

Here are short ‘teasers’ to give you a flavour of the interviews.

The full-length interviews can be viewed here:
Yule: 21 minutes
and Dalton: 18 minutes

We look forward to your reactions.

Join the Conversation


  1. Yes, as you say change in process needs to take place and I have no doubt it will. What at least one of the protagonists you mention don’t seem to realise is that change will will take place with or without them. They do not have an automatic mandate to be part of this change. The driving force now is the demand for change and not the participants. Some pro-am people will hope to re-litigate this ad infinitum, however what is needed now is for those people to move on. There are many issues in our lives that need our attention. Amalgamation is no longer one of them.

  2. Really appreciate you taking the time to do these interviews. I’ve been hoping there would be a platform for the Mayors to provided detailed post vote reflections — and BayBuzz delivered.

    Insightful interviews.

    Encouraging to see the thoughtful, considered reflections from Mayor Yule. Easy to understand how ‘better to do something than nothing’ thinking saw him get in behind the proposal – even though it was clear from the interview that he had serious issues with it (particularly the inclusion of Wairoa and CHB).

    I would say though that at least in my experience, doing the wrong thing generally produces worse outcomes than doing nothing – so I remain perplexed on why he’d publicly back a proposal that he seemed to realise was flawed.

    On Mayor Dalton – his last comment was probably the most telling – something along the lines of ‘two thirds of people backed my plan’. Rather seemed like someone who just hears what he wants to. Rather less encouraging for the future of the region.

  3. Kiaora “political propaganda journal”

    My impression is that both the ‘victor” and the “vanquished” share a commonality and that is, both want the Best and a Better Hawkes Bay, with a working smarter collaborative, inclusive mentality that serves the best interests of all in the Hawkes Bay region moving forward.

    I only have one comment on the campaign as it sounded like it was quite brutal at times…

    What would you like to say to the winning side of the referendum?‎

    Oh well I mean I want to congratulate them on their win. First of all as you ‎know a resounding win. But from the winners of this, they’ve largely sold ‎their message on negative campaigning around fear and things and the real ‎challenge now, is to actually get the positives out of this decision, about how ‎we make this region go forward, without amalgamation and they need to ‎think about that. I congratulate them, I’m not taking away their resounding ‎defeat and their tactics were clever and they worked but it doesn’t take away ‎the challenges we still have as a region socially, economically, job wise and ‎population wise.‎


    An unexpectedly whitewash and everybody seems to have concluded that ‎but there are 34 per cent of voters out there who wanted this change to occur. ‎What do you have to say to that when all is said and done?‎

    Well I dispute that they, the 34 per cent wanted this change to occur, I think ‎that’s the problem.‎

    The proposal that was essentially put before us was entirely unfit for ‎purpose and so what I would say to those people, is I acknowledge that you ‎wanted to get where we want to be a more prosperous and stronger Hawkes ‎Bay, I acknowledge that. I acknowledge the fact that we saw a different path ‎to that prosperity but now the decision has been made, we need to all work ‎together, forget about the hostilities if you like, we need to work together ‎and get on to make Hawkes Bay a better place.‎

    But there was a vote against the proposition on the table. It was ‎inappropriate, not fit for purpose and people saw that. The proposal tried to ‎be everything to everybody and it ended up being nothing to nobody, it was ‎absolutely appalling in the end and even some of the most fervent and the ‎figures prove this, some of the most fervent supporters of this amalgamation ‎didn’t see this as the appropriate change.‎

    So the people weren’t saying to us, we don’t want change, people were ‎saying we didn’t want the change that was recommended or suggested to us.‎

    A couple of issues that I found concerning and it is what mayor Yule said in regards to why the 60 per cent of Hawkes Bay ratepayers voted the way they did, quite sarcastic and immature really, especially as he described himself to you Tom as…

    So lets come to you then. Do you think you were an asset or a liability to this ‎campaign?‎

    Well I think I’m a bit of both actually I think for many I was seen ‎as an asset because I have a lot of knowledge and experience. I am the most ‎experienced local politician at my level but equally by some others I was ‎seen as a liability. We never managed to track which was better, one or the ‎other but clearly there were two points of view on that.‎

    Yeah I think the unfortunate thing probably is a lot of people here are happy ‎you know their happiness is infectious we’re happy that’s great. ‎

    An Ass with an Attitude of a sore loser more like it who had the propensity to inflate his own political ego or uplift it maybe, after the drubbing his reorganisation proposal received at the polls that was rejected overwhelmingly by the 60 per cent of infectiously happy Hawkes Bay ratepayers.

    The second issue is mayor Yule’s statement…

    I do think that at the hub of this is the elected officials, myself included fall ‎into a sort of a conclusion that people are pretty happy that would be ‎wouldn’t you agree the most unfortunate reading to take from this today, ‎we’re all happy, we’re doing well by and large and enough of this doom and ‎gloom stuff. Let us just go about our business?‎

    Yeah I think the unfortunate thing probably is a lot of people here are happy ‎you know their happiness is infectious we’re happy that’s great. I just don’t ‎think we often realise what we could be doing and what our potential is and ‎one of the things I found most difficult in the reflections since the result is ‎this fact, there’s never been a successful amalgamation in New Zealand ‎where the people have had to vote for it, ever. The only time amalgamations ‎have happened have been either imposed by central government processes, ‎most recent one being in Auckland. Every other one where people had to ‎vote, they declined.‎

    In 1989 we had the biggest set of reforms ever and there was controversy ‎about debt, loss of identity, the rates will go up all those things because the ‎government pushed it through and people don’t want to go back on that, its ‎been done. It was successful and people are happy with it. So we have this ‎propensity to rally against change when we get a say in it but if somebody ‎else does it to us, we’re actually pretty amazing to adapting to that change ‎and everything is ok and I suppose that’s my reflection where I, if the ‎government had come in and said we’re going to rationalise Hawkes Bay and ‎this is what we’re going to do, there would be been some shouting and ‎screaming but in 3 or 4 years time everybody would have said that’s fine, no ‎big deal, lets get on with life but we’re unable to do that sort of thing ‎ourselves which is a reflection of democracy, human nature I think, a fear of ‎change but it is what it is.‎

    What I take from Mayor Yule’s statement is he would promote the imposition of central government to intervene in local government politics through rationalisation.

    Ideas, innovation, and creativity for prosperity and economic growth come from the people who live in their regions, not from central government they just provide the tools to enable that prosperity and economic growth to be achieved collaboratively by infectiously happy New Zealand citizens.

    All the best to your charming offensive, your good looks and your wit Mayor Dalton.

    Thank you Tom for the interviews you conducted and now I am going to call my relations in Napier, who are part of those infectiously happy residents.


  4. Well it seems the answer might be back to the future. Or for those that don’t watch movies ” the future is in the past”. In other words more local bodies NOT less. I have recently visited France and here is a brief rundown on what they have done which is completely the opposite of what our movers and shakers were advocating most vociferously accompanied by more signage that the national Party election campaigns.
    “While local government in France has a long history of centralisation, the past 35 years have brought some radical changes. At first sight, the system may seem complex. France has four
    tiers of government – the state or central government, region, department and ‘commune’.
    The decentralisation law of 2 March 1982 and the legislation completing it marked the Paris government’s desire to alter the balance of power between the state and local authorities
    (regions, departments and communes). It gave far greater autonomy in decision-making by sharing administrative and budgetary tasks between central and local authorities.

    Three tiers of local government In France there are three main tiers of local administration: the commune, department and region.. In addition, there are France’s regional bodies with special status (Paris, Marseille, Lyon,[where I was] Corsica, Mayotte and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon).

    The communes [ Villages -like Havelock North USED to be]
    The commune, is the lowest tier of the French administrative hierarchy. There are nearly 37,000 communes.[ that’s right 37,000] The term commune is applied to all municipalities whatever their size –80 per cent of them have fewer than 1,000 residents. This situation has led the government to encourage smaller communes to merge to form urban communities (communautés urbaines)
    or group together in associations of several communes (syndicats intercommunaux). In addition, the law of 6 February 1992 suggested new forms of co-operation to rationalise municipal administration by taking common interests into consideration. In reality, the closer
    links often go no further than pooling a few services and mergers are extremely rare, as both residents and local councillors often retain a strong sense of identity with their communes.”

    So maybe if people were closer to their immediate local body they would participate more. It seems to wok very well in France. Where I stayed in a commune of 1600 the maire [Mayor] strolled around the camping ground talking to visitors. It was such a great place and I’d love to go back, especially as my good friend Odile Balas lives nearby.
    Dave Head

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