Top council job like being 'hired help'

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 21/12/2012

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Nelson City Council's new chief executive Clare Hadley, who is the only employee appointed by councillors, has drawn a line in the sand over how she intends to carry out her role.

"I want to make it clear I'm not the news. I understand from the community's perspective there's a sense of interest in me, but I'm the hired help - the butler that opens the door to ensure elected members are well served," Mrs Hadley said at the end of her first week in the job.

Despite her view that council chief executives should aim to serve and guide councillors, the role has brought higher profile since the days of local government reform in 1989.

The role had taken on a more corporate approach and elected members could sometimes feel disenfranchised from much of what went on, she said.

Mrs Hadley was recently appointed from a field of 56 applicants from around New Zealand and overseas, and after a unanimous decision by city councillors.

Mrs Hadley and her husband arrived in Nelson last Saturday from the Manawatu-Whanganui region where she was chief executive of the Rangitikei District Council. She is keen to familiarise herself with the workings of the council before it begins again in earnest next year.

"I'm blessed being able to do this the week prior to Christmas, then go away for a couple of weeks just to digest it all."

Mrs Hadley is no stranger to Nelson, having holidayed here in the past. She also has family living in the Tasman district. She has spent her first week meeting council staff and wandering around looking at how things work here.

Mrs Hadley told the Nelson Mail recently that resilience was an important character trait for a council chief executive.

Among her new tasks, she will take over a review of Mayor Aldo Miccio's personal involvement in a new Chinese e-commerce venture. Mr Miccio's involvement as co-director and chairman of a company set up to source New Zealand products to sell in China have sparked concerns over a potential conflict of interest between his role as mayor and as a businessman.

Mr Miccio has maintained there is no conflict. He has referred the issue to the chief executive to review, including referral to the auditor-general's office.

Mrs Hadley said the relationship between a mayor and a chief executive was always a fine balance, but she was up to speed with the issue.

Away from work she intended to take full advantage of what Nelson offered in the way of lifestyle. She is a keen swimmer and loves to cook.

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- The Nelson Mail

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