The Regional Council, meeting in committee, yesterday unanimously approved terms of reference (TOR) for the regional performance study. The complete TOR are here.

During the open discussion, two key points were firmly established.

First, despite indirect language in the TOR, Councillors understand the TOR to mean that the study must look at current governance arrangements in Hawke’s Bay, determine whether current structure adversely affects the region’s progress and, if so, address those issues.

Second, that public input into the study must be provided for.

During the discussion, it was disclosed that Dame Margaret Bazley is being considered as the study leader. In her distinguished career, Dame Bazley has held several senior public service positions, most recently directing the Inquiry into Police Conduct and the Review of Legal Aid, and serving as a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, and as the appointed Chair of the Commissioners governing Environment Canterbury.

Hawke’s Bay would be fortunate to have an individual of this proven caliber and independence conduct its performance review. That said, HBRC Chair Fenton Wilson indicated that additional candidates might be considered.

The Hastings and Regional Councils have now both approved the TOR.

Also meeting yesterday, the Regulatory Committee of Napier City Council was scheduled to consider the same TOR … but in public-excluded session. That’s Napier Council-style public accountability!

Hopefully NCC will condescend to reveal to the public the outcome of its ‘deliberations’ in the next 24 hours or so.

And from there, the CHB and Wairoa Councils must act. The CHB Council meets Thursday the 26th, but there is no sign of the TOR on its agenda. The Wairoa Council isn’t scheduled to meet until 8 February, and the agenda posted online for that session makes no reference to the study or TOR at this time.

Stay tuned!

Tom Belford

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