Wellington’s mayor is facing a mixed response from her own council after revelations of a drinking problem.
As RNZ reported yesterday, Tory Whanau’s “drunken antics” at a Wellington venue were captured on footage two weeks ago. The mayor since confirmed she has sought professional help.
So far, once councillor – Nicola Young – has called for Whanau to resign. “Wellington deserves better,” she told Sean Plunket’s The Platform today. Young urged Whanau to continue seeking help, but believed a byelection was needed.
On Newstalk ZB, Young said that the mayoralty wasn’t a job you could do with “addictive issues” and blamed Whanau’s recent absences from council on her drinking.
”Her behaviour has become an embarrassment for the city,” said Young. ”I’m getting clear feedback that she’s lost the trust and confidence of Wellingtonians.”
Others on council have expressed concern for Whanau, with Rebecca Matthews telling RNZ that she hoped “more people in public life would be a bit honest about the struggles that they face because these are hard jobs and whatever problems you have, they do come to the surface”.
“I have seen her be professional and a decent leader. These are not issues that have come into the workplace that I have seen but none of us is perfect.
Another councillor, Diane Calvert, wouldn’t expressed confidence in the mayor but said she was surprised by the public admission of a drinking problem.
“I hope she’s getting the help she needs and as an organisation we will be supporting her but I think the key thing is that as a mayor you do have quite a specialist role, and in particular if there is an emergency you have certain powers, and so we need to make sure we also keep our city safe going forward.”
Councillor Tony Randle told the Herald that the issue could mean Whanau was unable to carry out her role. “I am sympathetic about Tory’s drinking problem, and it may explain her being increasingly distant from many councillors. But she has a huge job as mayor, especially when our city has so many major challenges,” said Randle.