Paul Walden will continue as chairperson of the local board for the next 18 months.

Paul Walden and Cath Handley have been elected to share the chairperson’s role on Waiheke Local Board.
The board put on a stunning display of unity at its first meeting on Saturday, voting unanimously that Mr Walden will have the first 18 months in the top job and Ms Handley will take the lead for the second half of the term.
Ms Handley will be deputy chair during Mr Walden’s leadership and he will be deputy when she takes the chair.
The three returning board members, Mr Walden, John Meeuwsen and Shirin Brown, and two new faces, Bob Upchurch and Ms Handley, managed to reach agreement on Friday afternoon about who would become chairperson and deputy chair.
At the meeting, Mr Upchurch proposed that Ms Brown could become deputy chairperson when Ms Handley becomes chairperson in April 2018.
However, Ms Brown declined the offer, saying she preferred to stick with the agreement they had reached on Friday.
Ms Brown had initially put herself forward, alongside Mr Walden and Ms Handley, for the chairperson’s role, but had not gained support from the other board members.
She refused to cast the deciding vote that would have allowed Ms Handley, supported by Mr Upchurch, or Mr Walden, supported by Mr Meeuwsen, to take the chairperson’s role for the full term.
“I tried to go into the negotiations thinking what’s the best for the community, not what’s the best for me necessarily and I think this is a great outcome for the community.
“I don’t want to be piggy in the middle and will always look for the consensus win.
“It’s important that we show a leadership that can work together and that is not divisive from the beginning,” says Ms Brown.
Mr Walden is pleased with the compromise the board members reached.
“It could have ended up with the toss of a coin between Cath and myself and that would have left a number of people feeling hard done by.
“It was a reasoned and practical idea to share the responsibility and this is not uncommon practice.
“It bodes well for the term that we have very strong views, but we have a desire to work through them in such a fashion that it does not foster animosity,” he says.
The compromise reached means Mr Walden can fulfil his goal of continuing leading the board while several significant issues are resolved.
These include the legal challenge to the abolition of the Rural Urban Boundary on Waiheke, the devolution of power from the council to the board, the bid to form a unitary council on the island, and strategic planning for Matiatia.
Ms Handley is also pleased with the sharing of power and the board members’ ability to avoid “polarisation”.
“I think it’s a board that is going to work together well – the early dynamics between us all show good signs.
“We have had boards in the past whose initial days have been marked with huge strife, but we’re committed that’s not going to happen.
“We want to model the benefits of collaboration, rather than having the set-tos that have marked some previous boards,” she says.
Ms Handley plans to bring her “personal approach” to the board leadership, but says there will not be “wholesale change”.
The board’s next meeting will be held at 5.15pm on 24 November at the Auckland Council service centre in Ostend.
• Rose Davis

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