Councillor Matenga resigns seat

Last updated 05:00 16/03/2010

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Kapi-Mana News

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Hemi Matenga has resigned as a Porirua city councillor, a decision some of his colleagues are applauding, but another has slammed their "hypocrisy".

Kapi-Mana News understands Mr Matenga, who has not been present at any scheduled meetings this year, sent a letter to the council's chief executive Roger Blakeley last Wednesday, informing him of his decision to stand down.

That day, prior to an annual plan meeting, councillor Euon Murrell raised a question around Mr Matenga's continued non-attendance. Dr Blakeley said if Mr Matenga missed four consecutive meetings, or no-one moved his apology, he could be removed from his position  with three meetings coming up before April 1, he may have been out of a job in short order.

Councillor Denys Latham said he felt "embarrassed" and "inefficient" when people regularly asked him where "councillor X" was.

However, councillor Robert Shaw said Mr Murrell needed to "grow up" and "it's none of your business" regarding Mr Matenga's actions.

News broke the next day of Mr Matenga's resignation.

Porirua Mayor Jenny Brash said she had been "leaving messages all over the place" in order to have a chat with him.

"It's not a big surprise to me, at least we know where we stand now."

Despite leaving email and cellphone messages, Kapi-Mana News was unable to reach Mr Matenga for comment.

Mr Murrell said he was happy that "at long last Hemi has done the right thing".

"It just goes to show how shallow that bravado in December [when Mr Matenga re-iterated publicly he was 'committed' to serving his community] really was.

"It does not matter who it was, this was about issues of integrity. I think it shows that if you're standing for election this year, think about the responsibility you need to have in the role."

Councillor Liz Kelly has, like Mr Shaw, supported Mr Matenga. She told Kapi-Mana News it was a shame "but not surprising" that he has not stayed the course, but it may not have mattered what he said to some councillors.

"This particular hypocrisy of some is interesting," she said.

Ms Kelly thought the best thing Mr Matenga could do was "have the courage to front up and run [for election] again", letting the people, not his fellow councillors, decide his fate.

The general feeling from Ms Brash and councillors is that a by-election will not be held, as local body elections are in October. But a final decision will be made at the full council meeting on March 31.

The same day he resigned, Kapi-Mana News was contacted by Mr Matenga's ex-landlord, seeking an address or current cellphone number for him. Mr Matenga rented an apartment in Aotea in October, but was asked to move out in December after allegedly falling behind in his rent.

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"I can't pursue him [via the Disputes Tribunal] because I don't where he is and he won't return any calls," the man said. "It's only $500 but there's a principle. I'm very upset as he has not been fair towards me. He has a way of communicating ... and he gets away with things."

- Kapi-Mana News

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