Mayor quits school board


Mayor Vanessa van Uden says her support for Wakatipu High’s recently-sacked principal isn’t why she’s resigned from the school board. 

Two-term trustee Van Uden – elected Queenstown-Lakes mayor a year ago – says her pull-out is purely due to workload pressures. 

However, she reveals she didn’t agree with the axing of principal Lyn Cooper, done two months ago by Government-appointed manager Peter MacDonald. 

“From my perspective, I didn’t see the need for her to be dismissed,” Van Uden says. 

“I’m quite happy to say that I didn’t support her going, but the board is like a democracy – when the board has made a decision you need to support the decision, just like the council.” 

Van Uden was on the previous board that appointed Cooper four years ago. 

Cooper’s leadership was criticised in a damning Education Review Office report in March, followed by MacDonald’s appointment. 

Cooper ended up filing a claim with the Employment Relations Authority. 

This week she surprisingly took up her chair again, which she’ll share with stand-in principal Paul O’Connor till the end of the year. 

Van Uden, in this month’s school newsletter, writes: “At this difficult time there is an increased need for commitment by the board in terms of time and workload in order to ensure the excellent standard of education our children are receiving at Wakatipu High School continues. 

“… continuing as a trustee with these additional time demands could compromise not only my position as a trustee but also that of the office of the mayor.” 

Van Uden tells Mountain Scene: “When you’re sitting on a board or on something like that, if you can’t do the time you just end up being a frustration to the other people so you may as well give them the opportunity to get somebody who can do it.” 

Van Uden expects the job of appointing Cooper’s replacement will increase trustees’ workloads next year.