Health board member misses most meetings

22:45, Nov 18 2012
Aaron Keown carries his mothers ashes
SUPPORTING VICTIMS: Aaron Keown carries his mothers ashes in a 2008 march calling for tougher penalties for murder and serious crime.
Aaron Keown with his campaign billboard
THANKS: Aaron Keown thanks his voters after winning seats on both the city council and the health board.
Aaron Keown with a street walker
RESEARCH: Aaron Keown talks to a street walker on Manchester St as part of an investigation into safety for prostitutes.
Aaron Keown singing
PERFORMER: Singing at a family day after the September quake in Hagley Park.
Aaron Keown outside Christchurch Hospital
PARKING CHARGES: Aaron Keown campaigned for free parking at Christchurch Hospital.
Aaron Keown campaign to save the cathedral
CHAINED: Aaron Keown threatened to chain himself to Christ Church cathedral to prevent its demolition.

The Canterbury District Health Board member who received the most votes during the 2010 election has attended only one full meeting this year.

Christchurch City councillor Aaron Keown has missed eight of the 11 board meetings held this year. He was partially present at two meetings and did not attend the remaining eight meetings at all.

Keown was the highest polling candidate in the 2010 election and receives $26,000 a year for being a board member.

Christchurch City councillor, and Canterbury District Health Board member, Aaron Keown

Aaron Keown is paid about $90,000 a year as a city councillor and another $16,000 as a Canterbury Development Corporation director.

He missed five of the 13 CDHB meetings held last year, but attended six fully and two partially. He also attended the first meeting for the board after the 2010 elections, held on December 17, 2010.

In November 2010, soon after his election to both the council and health board, Keown said the extra workload of both roles would be manageable. He planned to allow 40 hours a week for the council and 10 hours a week for the health board.


Keown told The Press on Friday his attendance at CDHB meetings had dropped when they were moved this year to Thursdays - the same day as city council meetings.

The meeting days were changed because "it was felt people cope better on a Thursday", because they were "thinking about the weekend" on Fridays.

He had asked the board to go back to its original meeting schedule, but said "they like not meeting on a Friday".

"I feel my position on the CDHB has been compromised by the moving of the meeting dates. In saying that, I do get to most committee meetings so there is often not a month that goes by where I don't meet with my colleagues and this is enough to be effective."

He believed it was good having an elected member on both the council and the CDHB because it "keeps some clear lines of communication".

"I am also on the CDC [Canterbury Development Corporation] and this has been great when it has come to the development of the health precinct, as it would be fair to say that most different governance organisations work in silos," he said.

Andrew Dickerson, who was the only board member to have attended every meeting this term, said he thought some people underestimated the size and complexity of the CDHB.

"[It] is the largest organisation in the South Island with 9500 employees and an annual budget of $1.4 billion. Board meetings are only part of the role.

"There is considerable preparation, background reading and community liaison required outside of board meetings."

Dickerson said he took his responsibilities as an elected board member very seriously and was proud to be part of an organisation that was "making such a valuable contribution in our community".


Aaron Keown is not the only CDHB member to miss meetings since the 2010 election.

Appointed member Susan Wallace has been absent seven times.

Elected member Anna Crighton has been absent six times.

Four meetings have been missed by appointed member Elizabeth Cunningham, appointed chairman Bruce Matheson, and elected members Chris Mene, Olive Webb and Wendy Gilchrist.

Elected member David Morrell has been absent three times. Appointed deputy chairman Peter Ballantyne has been absent twice.

Elected member Andrew Dickerson is the only board member to have attended every meeting since the 2010 elections.

The Press