Minutes of a meeting of the

Nelson City Council

Te Kaunihera o Whakatū

Held in the Council Chamber, Civic House, 110 Trafalgar Street, Nelson on Thursday 11 August 2022, commencing at 9.04a.m.


Present:              Her Worship the Mayor R Reese (Chairperson), Councillors T Brand, Y Bowater, M Courtney, J Edgar (Deputy Mayor), K Fulton, M Lawrey, R O'Neill-Stevens, B McGurk, G Noonan, P Rainey, R Sanson and T Skinner

In Attendance:    Chief Executive (P Dougherty), Group Manager Community Services (A White), Senior Governance Adviser (M Macfarlane) and Assistant Governance Advisor (A Bryce-Neumann)

Apology:             Nil


Karakia and Mihi Timatanga


1.       Apologies

There were no apologies.


2.       Confirmation of Order of Business

There was no change to the order of business.



3.       Interests

DLA Piper Legal Advisor, Emma Moran, briefed elected members on potential conflicts of interest and advised all members to bring an open mind to the debate and be open to all outcomes.

Councillor Sanson questioned if Her Worship the Mayor and Councillor Skinner should be recused from the proceeding and her advocate, Mr Stallard, also questioned if it was appropriate for the Mayor to chair the meeting. Ms Moran confirmed no one had met the recusal threshold.

Ms Moran provided advice on the perception of bias, that there needed to be sufficient evidence that members minds were closed to making a decision.

Her Worship the Mayor asked all members to identify if there were any conflicts of interest. There were no updates to the Interests Register, and no interests with items on the agenda were declared.


4.       Public Forum

There was no public forum.


5.       Code of Conduct Independent Investigation Report

Document number R27096, agenda pages 6 - 81 refer.

Group Manager Community Services, Andrew White, introduced his report and noted the Chief Executive had no influence on the investigation, the process to date, and that the investigation had been robust and consistent with the Code of Conduct process.

Ms Moran set out the Code of Conduct process and the required steps for the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 9.46a.m. and resumed at 10.01a.m.

Following the adjournment Ms Moran recommended the additional of an additional recommendation to receive the Code of Conduct investigation report.

Independent Investigator, Bruce Robertson, was present to answer  questions of clarification on his report.

Her Worship the Mayor advised the meeting would take an adjournment and following the adjournment statements would be heard.

The meeting adjourned at 10.50a.m. and reconvened at 11.01a.m.

The Chief Executive gave his statement,  that lodging a complaint against an elected member was a difficult position for him to have to take, however it was part of the role of the Chief Executive to have taken this extraordinary action on behalf of his staff. He noted Councillor Sanson appeared unaware of the power imbalance between members and staff and the impact members questioning an officers integrity had. He noted there are 10 complaints today which showed this wasn’t an isolated incident, confirmed he had no issue with the way the matter had been investigated, the report, or the recommended outcome.  Noted that today wasn’t an opportunity for complaints to be raised by Councillor Sanson, it is about hearing the evidence gathered in response to the complaint. He noted he had met with Councillor Sanson on several occasions and had attempted to guide her on the best way to engage with officers without any change in behaviour, he noted several points of order were raised against Councillor Sanson and that indicated a pattern of behaviour.

Councillor Sanson gave her statement, noting she felt that it was a flawed and politically motivated process and was unfortunate that Council insisted on approaching it in a punitive Code of Conduct approach. She noted the matter could have been dealt with via mediation but this was refused and that a claim was lodged with the human rights commissioner which recommended mediation. Councillor Sanson believed her conduct did meet the required threshold, noted her hard and diligent work and that she had immense respect for Council staff and takes a careful and considered governance approach. Questions that were raised in meetings were based on getting the best outcomes for the community and noted that asking these questions had come at great personal cost. The words used in the Code of Conduct investigation have been misconstrued and in some cases misrepresented. Councillor Sanson felt the investigation process was flawed since its outset particularly focusing on a lack of interaction with the Mayor or Chief Executive. Noted that 7 of the 10 items relate to Council’s position on forestry and that her reply should have been included in the report. Councillor Sanson sited the negative impact this has had on her wellbeing and that her time in Council had been damaging which has impacted on her, her whanau and friends. There had been a lack of leadership with no support provided to her. Councillor Sanson acknowledged colleagues round the table, professional and whanau support and noted that courageous people are needed around the decision making table. Ask report isn’t supported by members and ask recommendations not adopted.

Mr Stallard noted in the Code of Conduct there was a requirement to assess the report, not accept the report, and that was part of the reasoning behind Councillor Sanson providing her reply today.

Attendance: Councillor Sanson, her supporters, and the Chief Executive left the meeting at 11.42a.m.

The meeting was adjourned from 11.48a.m. until 12.04p.m.

Mr White and Ms Moran answered questions of clarification around the meeting being held in public, the process involved, the timeframes involved, what supports were put in place and the decision making process.

Her Worship the Mayor noted that she stood by the Code of Conduct complaint investigation process and invited any members unable to deliberate with an open mind to leave at that point.

The motion was taken in parts.



Resolved CL/2022/159


That the Council

1.        Receives the report Code of Conduct Independent Investigation Report (R27096) and its attachments (A1745031, A2765098, A2769002, 200344844-217 and 200344844-215); and

Skinner/Noonan                                                                            Carried

The meeting was adjourned at 12.31p.m. and resumed at 1.38p.m.

Resolved CL/2022/160


That the Council

2.   Accepts the investigator’s report (attachment 200344844-215) including its recommendations

McGurk/Skinner                                                                            Carried


Members discussed the addition of a resolution offering a facilitated meeting involving Councillor Sanson, the Chief Executive and elected members to discuss the good employer relationship.


A division was called for the remaining resolutions.

Resolved CL/2022/161


That the Council

3.        Agrees with the conclusions of the independent investigation that Councillor Sanson has breached sections 3, 5.1, 5.2 and 6.2 of the Nelson City Council Code of Conduct. 

4.    Requires the following in accordance with section 13.1 of the Nelson City Council Code of Conduct:

a.     That the Council, with assistance from the Group Manager Community Services, writes a Letter of Censure to Councillor Sanson, the letter to include:

i.     A description of the conduct for which Councillor Sanson is being censured; and

ii.    A formal censure by the Council of that conduct; and

iii.   An offer of support to Councillor Sanson to engage with a mentor, for the purpose of helping her develop strategies for achieving her aims without further damaging, and potentially improving, the relationships with elected members and staff and ratepayer confidence in Council.

5.    Notes that this will be the full and final resolution of this Code of Conduct matter.


The motion was put and a division was called:


Cr Bowater

Cr Brand

Cr Courtney

Cr Edgar

Cr Fulton

Cr McGurk

Cr Noonan

Cr Skinner

Mayor Reese (Chairperson)




Cr Rainey

Cr ONeil-Stevens

Cr Lawrey

The motion was carried 9 - 0.

McGurk/Skinner                                                                            Carried


Attendance:    Councillors Bowater and Fulton left the meeting at 2.45 p.m.


6.       Exclusion of the Public

Resolved CL/2022/162


That the Council

1.        Excludes the public from the following parts of the proceedings of this meeting.

2.        The general subject of each matter to be considered while the public is excluded, the reason for passing this resolution in relation to each matter and the specific grounds under section 48(1) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 for the passing of this resolution are as follows:  

McGurk/Noonan                                                                            Carried



General subject of each matter to be considered

Reason for passing this resolution in relation to each matter

Particular interests protected (where applicable)


Supplementary Report
Infrastructure Acceleration Fund - Next steps

Section 7(2)(i) To enable the local authority to carry on, without prejudice or disadvantage, negotiations (including commercial and industrial negotiations)

Section 48(1)(a)

The public conduct of this matter would be likely to result in disclosure of information for which good reason exists under section 7

The withholding of the information is necessary:

·    Section 7(2)(i)

     To enable the local authority to carry on, without prejudice or disadvantage, negotiations (including commercial and industrial negotiations)

The meeting went into confidential session at 2.46p.m. and resumed in public session at 2.54p.m.


Karakia Whakamutanga



7.       Restatements


It was resolved while the public was excluded:



Supplementary Report, Infrastructure Acceleration Fund - Next steps


That the Council

1.     Receives the report Supplementary Report
Infrastructure Acceleration Fund - Next steps (R27102) and its attachment (1590798627-9); and

2.     Agrees to discontinue to negotiate with the Infrastructure Acceleration Fund on the Wakatū Incorporation (Horoirangi) proposal; and 

3.     Agrees that the decision be made public following a decision by Council on the matters in this report (R27102).



There being no further business the meeting ended at 2.54p.m.


Confirmed as a correct record of proceedings by resolution on 22 September 2022.


That the Council

1.     Confirms the minutes of the meeting of the Council, held on 11 August 2022, as a true and correct record.