Council boss’ salary revealed


Queenstown’s mayor has revealed details of the recruitment process of new council top dog Mike Theelen - including his salary.

Vanessa van Uden says he’ll be paid $305,000 - exactly the same as outgoing chief executive Adam Feeley’s starting wage.

Former Christchurch City Council planning boss Mike Theelen saw off a shortlist of eight candidates.

That’s from a list drawn together by recruitment firm Rothleys, which was engaged in December 2015 after Feeley tendered his resignation.

Theelen’s initial contract is a three-year term, which begins on Monday, February 15.

Van Uden says: “I was happy with the process.

“It was robust and we received applications from a good cross-section of candidates.”

All the councillors were involved in the short-listing, interviewing and appointment process.

“We have appointed an experienced local government practitioner with valuable strategic skills and experience.”

Theelen, 55, left his Christchurch job in December.

He maintains he didn’t leave under a cloud, despite an announced review of his department after criticism from former Christchurch High Court judge Sir John Hansen.

Hansen, chairing an independent hearings panel into the council’s draft district plan, said Theelen seemed surprisingly ill-informed about the draft’s contents.

Theelen has mixed reviews in Christchurch.

Commercial property developer Richard Peebles says he was shocked to hear Theelen got Queenstown’s top job, in light of Hansen’s tongue-lashing.

Peebles says the city council’s planning department “didn’t perform” after the series of devastating quakes.

“It appears that Selwyn and Waimakariri got a lot more new sections on the market more quickly than Christchurch did.”

On the flip-side, Peebles says Theelen’s a nice guy whose Christchurch experience might make him an asset for Queenstown.

“I don’t doubt his experience.”

Before the quakes, Antony Gough owned a row of central city buildings known as ‘The Strip’, which hosted bars and restaurants.

“I think you’re very lucky to have him,” the veteran landlord declares.

“He’s user-friendly, easy to talk to, sensible with his feet on the ground.

“I’m sorry we lost him from Christchurch.”

Bankrupt developer Dave Henderson, who dealt with Theelen extensively pre-quake, describes him as “excellent”.

He told the Scene: “I always found him to be an excellent listener, willing to learn and understand and very much his own man.

“I think he will be great for Queenstown.”