'Hard yards' done, huge opportunity awaits - Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel video

Stuff.co.nz

Mayor Lianne Dalziel is not afraid to show her human side.

Lianne Dalziel is happy to admit her husband was right. She couldn't be mayor of Christchurch for only one term.

"To be honest, I did have a view that I could come in and sort things out in three years and move on."

Before the 2013 election, Dalziel's husband, Rob Davidson, told her she would have to stand for two terms.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the council has achieved a lot this term and the city will reap the benefits over ...
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the council has achieved a lot this term and the city will reap the benefits over the next three years.

"I didn't believe him, but he was right."

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Dalziel says the last three years have been "the hard yards", but the next three will reap the benefits.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the council's relationship with central Government is far better than it was ...
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the council's relationship with central Government is far better than it was three years ago.

The former MP and Cabinet Minister has no regrets about quitting Parliament and running for the mayoralty, but says it's a tough job. 

"People say to me 'have you enjoyed the role?' and I don't think enjoy is quite the right word but do I regret it? Never. Not for one second."

The interview takes place at a cafe on Worcester Blvd, next to the council building. 

Incumbents have to be careful about mixing official council business, or staff members, with campaign matters, so on this occasion Dalziel isn't flanked by a media manager. 

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She says the council has managed to sort out its finances, settle its insurance claims, carry out an internal restructure, review its capital programme, contribute to new recovery legislation and undertake a review of both the City Plan and Banks Peninsula plan. 

She's not expecting an overhaul around the council table as a result of October's election, but says with three new wards some change is inevitable.

Among her bugbears of the last three years is the replacement district plan process, which has been fast-tracked by the Government.

Dalziel says the process hasn't been a good one. The "legalistic, courtroom environment" of the Government-appointed independent hearings panel has shut many residents out.

The newly-elected councillors inherited many challenges, she says.

"We were never anticipating finding some of the things that we found.

"Things should have been in the public arena and some decisions should have been left until after the election."

Dalziel believes the cost sharing agreement, signed by the former mayor Sir Bob Parker and former council chief executive Tony Marryatt, was one decision that should have been put on hold. 

The best approach to Christchurch's challenging recovery issues is honesty, she says.

"If you tell people the honest truth from the beginning, even if it's bad news, they will appreciate it.

"People don't want flimflam​ and they don't want spin."

Has she always felt she could be honest?

"I've never not expressed a view that's important for me to express . . . but I do hold back when it comes to the interests of the city. 

"There may be things I want to say in the future when I'm not the mayor but they're not relevant to the interests of the city today."

She's looking for a small team to help her secure a second term and hopes to focus on certain key issues. 

They include looking at how the council can use the "alliance model" of the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team, once the organisation winds down at the end of the year. 

She also believes the council can do more with its capital programme, using "different mechanisms for delivery".

Dalziel says she hopes to play a role in helping Canterbury homeowners resolve outstanding Earthquake Commission and private insurance claims. 

"I'm keen to be part of that solution," she says.

 - Stuff

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