Say sorry, move on
It was the shot heard around the world, well, at least around Porirua City.
Mayor Nick Leggett’s ‘‘shut your mouth’’ rebuke of his deputy Liz Kelly has become quite the term of contention since it escaped his lips at a committee meeting on Valentine’s Day, particularly in Takapuwahia, where it has festered into contempt from local iwi Ngati Toa.
Iwi kaumatua council chairman Thom Kenny gave Mr Leggett both barrels in a public deputation last week, making it clear Ms Kelly was Ngati Toa’s ‘‘proper representative’’ on the council and should be treated accordingly.
It’s an interesting proclamation. We would contest Ms Kelly is an elected representative of the western ward. Her candidacy may have been endorsed by Ngati Toa but her primary responsibility is to her constituency.
But was that all Mr Leggett was banking on when he put her forward for deputy mayor in 2010? Or did he see Ms Kelly as a means to shore up iwi support? If so, it’s hard to begrudge the additional status afforded Ms Kelly by Mr Kenny. The mayor can’t have his cake and eat it too.
Of course, the platitudes cut both ways and the one that comes to mind for Ms Kelly is: You reap what you sow.
Ms Kelly is no stranger to cross words, both at council meetings and in the community. Her behaviour in the chamber during Jenny Brash’s term as mayor was often observed as disrespectful – and we doubt Ms Brash took umbrage against Ngati Toa for it.
Passions run high, tempers flare. So? Better a lively debate with a little derision than 14 yes-men in unison.
Among all the self-serving speeches, condescending quips and bully tactics we have witnessed at the council table over the years, neither Mr Leggett’s put-down nor Ms Kelly’s regular lidblowing would rank in the top 50 most offensive.
Sticks and stones, people. Say sorry and move on.
As for the other public deputation against Mr Leggett’s loose tongue, from associates of Ms Kelly who tried to link the mayor’s remark to violence against women, a more ludicrous, inane argument is unlikely to have been made at a Porirua council meeting.
Shame on them for whittling a serious social issue into a political chess piece.
Matthew Dallas, Editor.