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9 Tawa tower 10-11 Opinion 12 Wellingtonian interview
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Garry Poole earns $30,000 a year more than
the Prime Minister, has been running
Wellington City Council for 13 years . . . and
could walk along Lambton Quay unrecognised.
Who is he and is he worth the money?
Emma Beer investigates.
Anonymous: Do you recognise this man? You should -- he is running the city.
What we wanted to ask Garry Poole
What happens in your average day?
Do you work weekends?
How many weeks' annual leave do you get?
Do you get performance bonuses?
Would you do your job for half the pay?
What sort of a superannuation scheme do you get
through the council?
Do you have a company car?
What other benefits do you get through your job?
How long should a CEO stay in a role?
Who is Garry Poole?
Garry Poole was offered the chief executive role in
1997, aged 40. He is a chartered accountant who
joined the Audit Office in 1975. He spent some
time in London in the 1980s and became
assistant Auditor-General on his return.
Within four years, he was Audit New Zealand chief
CONTINUED page 2
What other chief executives are paid, page 2
He earns $419,230 a year of ratepayers money, is
responsible for $6.4 billion worth of assets and $310
millon of debt. He employs 1400 people and runs
Wellington city -- but Garry Poole is definitely not a
Wellington City Council s chief executive officer is
not only a mystery figure to the Wellington public,
but apparently delights in his anonymity.
Council chief executives have been in the gun
Tony Marryatt, the Christchurch council chief
executive, has been hammered for his $538,000 pay
(a $68,000 pay rise that he finally rejected after some
arm-twisting) and his Kapiti equivalent, Pat
Dougherty, is under fire for his $285,000 pay packet
(an 18 per cent pay rise).
What about Garry Poole? What does his job entail
and is it worth an $8070 a week pay packet?
Despite several requests, Mr Poole declined to
make any comment. He is either pathologically
media-shy or extremely secure in his job.
When Mr Poole became chief executive in 1998, his
salary was $217,500. It has nearly doubled in 14
years. Inflation has risen 39 per cent in that time.
So what does he do?
Deputy mayor Ian McKinnon said Mr Poole s job
was about implementation .
We [the council] set the strategic direction and
monitor the implementation [by Mr Poole].
Ultimately, he is responsible for the implemen-
But the implementation of what, you might ask.
Each year, the council sets Mr Poole a list of
Whether he was on track was assessed at quar-
terly meetings with the Performance Review Com-
mittee, said Mr McKinnon, who chairs the com-
mittee. Implementation is defined as the act of
carrying out or putting into action.
But what does Mr Poole put into action every day?
Does he arrive at work at 8am, have a leisurely
cup of coffee, read The Wellingtonian, sign some
forms, and then go off for a two-hour lunch meeting?
Or is he in constant demand?
Does he have back-to-back meetings with people
from accounts, finance, the universities, the airport,
NZ Transport Agency and Grow Wellington, then
slip in a quick sandwich at 3pm before approaching
an ever-growing mountain of paperwork, returning
home to snatch a microwaved dinner and answer his
emails before bed? He s not saying.
Though his responsibilities directly affect the pub-
lic, Mr Poole appears to be accountable only to the
Mr McKinnon said if the public was unhappy with
a decision, criticism should be directed towards the
council, which makes the decision.
If there was an issue with implementation, that
should be directed at council, too, he said.
Is Mr Poole paid a fortune but exempt from all
The council is responsible for making sure that
the chief executive fulfils his obligations to
implement the objectives that have been set, Mr
So Mr Poole does not have to be visible to the
public, because he is employed by the council?
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown seemed to think so.
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