They were there to learn how to get along better – but instead two Wellington city councillors ended up storming out.
Earlier this month a workshop was held at the zoo so new and returning councillors could discuss a document outlining how they should interact with each other, and with council officers.
It included phrases such as having “no surprises”, having professional relationships that were “timely, courteous, respectful”, and building an “environment for trust between elected members”.
But during the discussion, councillors Helene Ritchie and Iona Pannett walked out, reportedly because they felt they weren’t being listened to.
Last term’s council repeatedly came under fire for being divisive and not working effectively. Since the election last month, the new council – which includes six new members – has been meeting regularly to discuss how it will function.
Immediately after the election, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there was a good mix of councillors and she expected leading them would be “a lot easier than in the last six months”.
Not a great start for the new Council.
Not overly surprised that Cr Ritchie walked out. She does have a long history of difficult relationships with her colleagues, including back in the 1970s or 1980s when she got dumped as Deputy Mayor by her own team.
I am somewhat surprised by Iona Pannett walking out, and it will be interesting to learn what was the trigger.
The meeting was run by Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, who said it was a “storm in a teacup”, and both councillors returned and joined in the discussion.
It was a “group session on some protocols on how councillors should behave”, he said.
“There was a perception also that the council was divisive and we wanted to address that . . . Some people had different opinions, but in the end we all agreed.
So the session was to deal with the perception that the Council was divisive and the result of it was two Councillors walking out! Sounds more than a perception.