It has come to BayBuzz’s attention that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is advertising for candidates for the position of Chief Executive.

Now, before all you wannabe executive bureaucrats get too excited, this is purely a formality. The Regional Councillors have already conducted a performance review of the current incumbent, Andrew Newman, and set his pay.

As the advert on SEEK notes:

“The position of Chief Executive is being advertised as a vacancy in compliance with the Local Government Act 2002, under which the incumbent will also apply for the role. Applications close 4 pm on Friday 7 October 2011.”

In other words, ‘We’re happy with the incumbent … we’re not really serious about this … if we were, we’d conduct a search that would surely extend beyond 7 October.”

Still, it’s fun to speculate about what the truly mandatory qualifications for a Regional Council chief executive might be in a genuine job competition. Here are some possibilities:

Skills & Qualifications

1. Be less intelligent than Councillors, or, if that’s not feasible, be highly skilled at masking one’s intelligence.

2. Have no big or farsighted ideas, agendas or aspirations, or if that’s too constraining, be highly adept at either: a) camouflaging them, or b) crediting them with impressive humility to elected officeholders.

3. Ability to progress (or kill) controversial matters without leaving a paper trail or other fingerprints.

4. Strong commitment to never surprise Councillors with bad news, and when this is impossible, to shift the responsibility for such news to unreasonable stakeholders, central government, territorial authorities, and/or ex-staffers.

5. Uncanny knack for appointing only stakeholders to official consultative committees who will not challenge either: a) the status quo, or b) the staff’s preferred way forward. Ditto for consultants.

6. Shrewd ability to identify and retain only staff who understand and faithfully adhere to the institutional party line.

7. Precise understanding that Councillors need to know ‘just enough’, and nothing more that might confuse matters, invite inquiry or impede progress.

8. Personal composure and resilience to endure Councillors’ interrogations in public sessions with smiling equanimity, regardless of their merit.

9. Steadfast appreciation that Councillors — not facts, analyses, or public opinion — determine the public interest.

10. Unwavering loyalty to the Regional Council — and Regional Councillors — as the bulwark of sound governance, in the face of pesky distraction caused by incompetent territorial authorities and meddling central government.

Only candidates who can tick most of these boxes need apply.

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. Thank you Tom, on behalf of everyone who saw this ridiculous and surely illegal 'advertisment'! Not only is the response date clearly designed to deter any competition, but applications are directed to the incumbent's own right hand man. Doesn't the Local Government Act protect us from this and dictate that the process should be handled independently? And for any readers who think Tom has exaggerated anything here – he hasn't (be especially concerned with points 3-7).

  2. I am related to a staff member and really concerned about this as it confirms everything I have been hearing. I have encouraged my brother to do something about the lack of process I keep hearing about but even in a high position he is too scared to speak up. All joking aside Tom, ratepayers should question this.

  3. For goodness sake don't encourage CEO's not to bother applying! Staff are desperate for a decent CEO and can't believe how this is being manipulated!

  4. This sort of thing is just the tip of the iceberg and the councillors know it. Did they agree to this sham? Is it a coincidence that he is railroading this while a chunk of them are out of the country?

    This extremely poor manager has single handedly destroyed the morale and purpose of the organisation and has is own agenda for this region that has nothing to do with safeguarding our environment (that's the line underneath the council's logo Andrew in case you didn't recognise it).

  5. Thanks Tom for highlighting this sham. The Council is nearing a staff morale crisis, but the biggest concern is to the region and its future. The promotion of narrow Type-A controlling bullies who think only about their next commission and their own status was very much part of the 2008 financial collapse. The same lessons apply to how you lead a council full of once-committed staff. Committed to the long-term sustainable future of Hawke's Bay that is, not to making someone up the hierarchy look good. Hawke's Bay deserves better.

  6. This is another example of Regional Council's self serving governance being absent for the hard stuff. This CEO is well known for pushing his own agendas and bullying any opposition and now he's running his own internal recruitment process as well? Why is this regionally important role not being recruited in a transparent and independent manner? Bring in the commisioners, I smell a rat.

  7. Brilliant resume of the kind of CV one needs to apply for CEO of the Regional Council. Same applies to District Council.

    If it weren't so sad for the future of our district the article would be hilariously funny. But it is not a send up. It is the truth.

  8. Don't panic Hawkes Bay ratepayers, anyone that has seen the incumbent CEO in action knows he doesn't meet any of the Seek advertisments criteria, so he can't possible get the job.

  9. I note that the ad on HBRC website states that the role is responsible for “blank” and the salary range is also “blank” (same on the official position profile too!). As the Local Govt Act 2002 provides for CE salaries to be set by the Remuneration Authority, this salary range should be a matter of public record. What are they trying to hide, or is this another attempt to dissuade potential applicants?

    The S36 of Schedule 7 of the Act also requires the HBRC to be a good employer, particularly that it must “give preference to the person who is best suited to the position”, “ensure that all employees maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct, and concern for the public interest” and also requires the “impartial selection of suitably qualified persons for appointment”.

    This process, as reported, would appear to fall far short of those requirements, given that they have done their best to discourage other applicants and limit their opportunity to apply and also have a direct report to the incumbent applicant managing the process.

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