Wellington Scoop

Learning leadership

Thanks to Georgina Campbell at the NZ Herald, we now know that Wellington Mayor Andy Foster is taking a $30,000 six-day leadership course in Queenstown at ratepayers’ expense.

It’s hard to understand how this is appropriate when the city is facing a water infrastructure crisis and finalising its annual plan. Any mayor, and particularly one who has campaigned three times for the role, should already have the required leadership skills for the role. Or at the very least, they should think they do.

But as Georgina Campbell reports:

Foster has faced recent criticism for his lack of leadership over the city’s water woes after two significant failures sent millions of litres of wastewater into the harbour and prompted an elaborate sludge trucking operation…To attend the leadership course, Foster missed a final workshop with councillors to work through the council’s draft annual plan before the papers are released publicly. Many consider the draft plan as Foster’s chance to stamp his election agenda on the upcoming year, and eyebrows have been raised over his absence this week.

Of course, Mayor Foster should perhaps be given some credit for insight, if he feels his leadership skills aren’t up to the role.

And as for the course? It’s run by a director whose qualifications have been questioned. If he was any good he would have advised the mayor to receive some on the job coaching instead of leaving the city at an important time.

Campbell Barry: Time to work together to fix the water problems


  1. Dan Tosfery, 13. March 2020, 9:00

    Hopefully, Andy will return bright and bushy tailed and will be decisive and take his team of Councillors onwards and upwards. I wish him well on his course.

  2. Brendan, 13. March 2020, 10:32

    Perhaps he should have gone to a plumbing course.

  3. Meredith, 13. March 2020, 10:55

    Scomo – Foster? Hawaii – Millbrook. Best way to deal with a (waste water) crisis is to go on an expensive, doubtful leadership course?

  4. Taxpayers Union, 13. March 2020, 16:18

    Wellington City Council, waste at its worst. Ratepayers shouldn’t be covering this kind of luxury when rates are sky-high.

  5. Northland, 13. March 2020, 17:37

    Sorry but it’s hard to see how this can be justified. The council should be trying to save all the money it can and be at pains to show it is doing so.

    A global economic shock is happening as we speak. We are likely entering a period of economic hardship and recession. Businesses will go bust. KiwiSavers are tanking. People’s retirement funds are disappearing before their eyes. We would sincerely like the council to be extremely prudent with our money and not treat it like it grows on trees.

    Andy Foster you should cancel your trip and set a good example to your council.

  6. Rata, 13. March 2020, 21:16

    At this point in Wellington’s financial journey, true leadership might best be shown by being careful with our money.

  7. George, 14. March 2020, 1:05

    Onwards and upwards with a convention centre when conferences worldwide are tanking.

  8. Dan Tosfery, 14. March 2020, 8:42

    Andy Foster will be able to host a break-out session at the new conference centre on ‘Leadership’.

  9. Peter Kerr, 14. March 2020, 12:10

    No one can object to another going on a “leadership course”; but what a damned cheek having it paid for from council funds. There was no end of assurances that Foster had the skills and decades of experience to lead a new council, at election time last year. It appears that his self-promotion as a capable mayor is not so convincing after all. It’s well and good that Foster should discover this skill omission at an early stage of his mayoralty, but I would expect such a fault to be corrected at his own expense. The citizens of Wellington are not liable for the wild expense of this self education.

  10. B.H.S, 14. March 2020, 13:08

    $30,000 to attend a leadership course amounts to the rates of a 15 house street. I wouldn’t have minded a $3k course (just) but $30k is ridiculous. Andy needs to go on home economics course.

  11. Barbara, 14. March 2020, 13:18

    Couldn’t WCC have taken out a student loan to pay for Andy’s $30k Leadership refresher?

  12. Dave B, 16. March 2020, 19:48

    Barbara. A student loan for Andy Foster wouldn’t have helped. You can bet the ratepayers would still have had to fund it.

    The mayor’s $30,000 course should have been paid for out of his $180,000 salary (figure quoted by Stuff).

  13. Dan Tosfery, 17. March 2020, 9:40

    @Dave B:) Andy is just topping up his leadership skill-set and at $30,000, it’s only a 16.6% increase on his $180,000 remuneration package. Quite economical really and just 7% points more than the annual increase WCC is planning for us rather well off city folk.

  14. Casey, 17. March 2020, 10:14

    I wonder if the gold plated course Andy went on taught him how to herd cats ? Looking at the current bunch of the councillors he has to control, there is no hope for a unified approach from most of them who see their own agendas usurping the common good.

  15. michael, 17. March 2020, 11:11

    There is little hope our rates increase will be kept below the supposed 9.5% rise when the council are not prepared to par back expenses. So far Andy’s claim to fame is reinstating free lunches and a junket to Queenstown. Oh . . and opening a swimming pool or was it a library?? Apart from that he is noticeably absent from public life. In the meanwhile Wellingtonians are left facing a crisis caused by years of council mis-management which I doubt any $30,000 course is going to fix.

  16. Pat Harcus, 24. March 2020, 16:53

    Not a bad director and getting 30k for a week’s work for one bloke. Just imagine if there were 4 mayors there. Not a bad earn one would say.


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