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A Government-appointed commission is set to continue running Tauranga City Council beyond this year's local body elections. Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced her intention to appoint a commission to the council until July 2024. Four commissioners were appointed to lead the council in February 2021 after the elected council was discharged of its duties in December 2020.

Mahuta said the commissioners had accomplished impressive achievements in their tenure including strengthening relationships with the community, producing a Long-term Plan for 2021-31, and improving culture within the council.

"They have acted on many hard decisions that are essential to building a prosperous and sustainable future for Tauranga. But it is clear there is more to be done."

Mahuta said having a commission beyond October would ensure the council had the stability needed to maintain its current pace.

"They will be able to deliver on several complex programmes of work, including plans for the new civic centre precinct and investment plans for future growth.

"I have taken on board the commission's exit plan and recommendations and carefully considered all available options. It became clear that the council is still facing significant challenges and it was going to be necessary to continue to have a commission at the council to advance the progress already made."

In a report to the minister in December, the commission asked for the elections - that were due to be held in October - to be delayed at least a year and for the Government to continue having some oversight for the next three years. Mahuta acknowledged commission chairwoman Anne Tolley and thanked the current commissioners for the work that they had undertaken so far.

"They have worked effectively to understand the needs of the Tauranga and what is required to deliver significant and necessary change to a rapidly growing city."

The current commission's term began in February 2021 and will end in October. Following consultation with Cabinet, Mahuta will consider candidates for appointment to the next commission.

"My intention is for a smooth transition back to elected representation for Tauranga in July 2024 with elections to bring in new councillors and a new mayor.

"Today's decision reflects the excellent progress made to date but also the work that remains to be done to ensure that Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty region are provided with the services and infrastructure they require into the future."

Further announcements about appointees and terms of reference of the commission will be made in the coming weeks.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times, Friday 11 March 2022

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