Nelson City Council CEO Clare Hadley with her husband Ken and their dog. The three have lunch together nearly every day. Photo: Andrew Board.
Nelson City Council's outgoing CEO Clare Hadley with her husband Ken.

Nelson has ‘unfinished business’, says CEO


A year into her role as the council’s chief executive, Clare Hadley says it’s time Nelson tackled some unfinished business.

Clare endured a tough first year in the job, with a change of mayor, the Farmers building mess and some staff rumblings about job cuts. But she insists Nelson is in a better place than it was a year ago and she’s looking forward to a more settled 2014 and agrees with the new council that it needs to start finishing projects it’s started.

She says Saxton Field, the issue of a performing arts venue, the heart of Nelson plan and the marina are all areas that need attention and the city needs to start finishing them.

“I certainly hear from elected members and the community that completing a project is a challenge in Nelson. I think there is a great opportunity now to actually do some of the finishing of those projects and in turn get a better return on the investment we’ve already made.”

Clare says her job is to carry out the wishes of councillors and provide them with the correct information they need to make decisions. She says the job is hugely rewarding but does believe the council had strayed somewhat.

“When I started the job I did a review of the resource management work done, the catalyst report, and I was really heartened by how staff and elected members supported the bulk of the findings in that report. I was surprised at where we were as opposed to where we needed to be. I think we set off down a path without necessarily  checking back in and checking we were in the right area. And as a unitary authority I think you have to work really hard to keep yourself honest and that you’re dealing with all your responsibilities.”

She says her first year was tough with a change in the organisational structure and an election but she insists that’s part of the reason she loves it. “There have been some challenging issues in the sense that these are issues that we have to confront and have to deal with. You do expect challenges because sometimes you are proposing change, which can be hard, but it is also what keeps it dynamic and interesting.”

She says her relationship with mayor Rachel Reese is solid. “I’ve been through elections before and I’ve always understood and the staff have got it, that there is very much a ‘the king is dead, long live the king, or in this case, the queen’.

“We’re both from Dunedin, went to the same school and my married name is even her maiden name. It’s no rumour, it’s true. Someone said to me ‘how did this happen? We had two Marshall’s and now we have two Hadley’s”.

Clare says the council is well placed financially and she’s looking forward to helping the council realise its goals for the city. She says the timing proposal for amalgamation with Tasman is unfortunate, because it is so soon after it was voted down and Nelson needs to get on with its business and not be “consumed” by the amalgamation debate.

“We live in a great place, a great city and my job is to help make it even better.”