Tim Shadbolt

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Tim Shadbolt
Shadbolt in 2019
42nd Mayor of Invercargill
In office
Preceded byDavid Harrington
Succeeded byNobby Clark
In office
Preceded byEve Poole
Succeeded byDavid Harrington
35th Mayor of Waitemata City
In office
Preceded byTony Covic
Personal details
Born (1947-02-19) 19 February 1947 (age 77)
Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyIndependent
Other political
Miriam Cameron
(m. 1976; div. 1992)
Domestic partnerAsha Dutt[1]
RelationsMaurice Shadbolt (cousin)

Sir Timothy Richard Shadbolt KNZM JP (born 19 February 1947) is a New Zealand politician. He was the Mayor of Invercargill from 1998 to 2022, and previously Mayor of Waitemata City.

Early life[edit]

Shadbolt was born in the Auckland suburb of Remuera on 19 February 1947. His father died in a flying accident in 1952. He was on the school council and appointed prefect.[3]

Activist: 1960s and 1970s[edit]

Shadbolt became a founding student of Rutherford College, Auckland, and attended the University of Auckland from 1966 to 1970, taking a year off in 1967 to work on the Manapouri Power Project in Southland. He was a member of the Auckland University Students Association executive, and editor of Craccum in 1972. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he became prominent in the Progressive Youth Movement, a radical left-wing organisation, and was arrested 33 times during political protests,[4] most famously for using the word "bullshit"; this incident influenced the title of his 1971 autobiography Bullshit & Jellybeans.

In the mid-1970s, he founded a commune and concrete cooperative at Huia, later moving to Glen Eden with his family.[5]

Local politician: 1980s–2022[edit]


Shadbolt claims he stood for Mayor of Waitemata City in 1983 because he did not want to see the incumbent Tony Covic re-elected unopposed. He won the election, receiving 1,200 more votes than Covic.[5] He famously celebrated, much to some people's disgust, by towing his concrete mixer (named "Karl Marx"[6]) behind the mayoral Daimler in the 1983 Henderson Christmas parade.[7][8] Shadbolt's election represented the deep cynicism that many voters had felt about the Waitemata City Council, which was known for in-fighting.[5]

In 1986, Shadbolt created Tim's Team, a political ticket of young, liberal councillors.[5] Shadbolt's re-election was widely successful, improving voter turnout in 1980 from 16% of voters to 70% in 1986; the highest ever turnout for a local election in New Zealand.[5] During this three-year term, Shadbolt connected Titirangi and Laingholm to the city's main sewage system.[5] Shadbolt envisioned a large-scale stadium located on undeveloped coastal land at Te Atatū Peninsula called the Kiwi Dome, as a way to develop the economy of Waitemata City, which was never developed.[5] During his term as mayor he became infamous by twice losing the mayoral chains.[1]

In October 1988, Shadbolt's deputy mayor Gary Taylor resigned, citing mismanagement and personal issues as reasons, describing Shadbolt as an "Emperor" of a "personal fiefdom".[5] This triggered an audit by the central government, which found evidence of cronyism and improper management of funds, however not as wide-spread as alleged by Taylor.[5]

Six months after the release of the report, an election was held for the new Waitakere City, a newly formed body composed of the Waitemata City and surrounding West Auckland borough councils. In part due to the controversy, Shadbolt lost to Assid Corban, a member of the Corban family and mayor of the former Henderson Borough Council.[5][9]

He stood in the electorate of West Auckland (which incorporated Waitemata) at the 1990 New Zealand general election as an independent. He placed fifth with 3.06 per cent of the vote.[10] Later that year, he unsuccessfully stood in a by-election for Mayor of Auckland City, polling a distant eighth place.[11] Two years later he stood again for Mayor of Auckland City and also for Mayor of Dunedin, where he finished third place in both elections but performed marginally better in Dunedin.[12][13] Later that year, he stood in the Wellington Central by-election as an independent candidate, polling less than half a percentage point.[14]


In 1993, Shadbolt ran successfully for the position of Mayor of Invercargill. In 1994, he contested the Selwyn by-election as a candidate for New Zealand First, but was placed fourth, and remained Mayor of Invercargill.[4] He was defeated in 1995. In the 1996 general election he stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.[4]

In 1998, Shadbolt was re-elected to the mayoralty and remained the mayor until 2022. In 2001 he was re-elected unopposed.

In October 2002, Shadbolt told a conference of New Zealand's Disabled Persons Assembly that Invercargill had "an innovative approach to public transport, currently centred on 'Freebie the Bus' travelling the 'Purple Circle'". He said he hoped that in future all buses in Invercargill would be free and accessible.[15] (The Freebie and Purple Circle are zero-fare bus routes in Invercargill.)

In 2004 and 2007, Shadbolt won his fourth and fifth mayoral terms by huge margins. In 2010, he won his sixth Invercargill mayoral election. Shadbolt received 16,466 votes over mayoral candidates Suzanne Prentice (5,361 votes) and Carl Heenan (682 votes).[16]

On 8 October 2016 he again won re-election as Invercargill's mayor. He said this was his toughest campaign yet. "I've had two candidates both going flat-out and it was a tough election", he said. "In the past I've had either no contenders, but this time I had a television producer and a sitting councillor who had also been an investigative journalist, so it was pretty tough opposition."[17]

Shadbolt was returned for another term in 2019.[18] In November 2020, however, an independent review of the Invercargill City Council commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs raised concerns about the council's performance, and in particular said Shadbolt was "struggling to fulfil significant aspects of his job", and as a result there is a leadership void at the council. Shadbolt rubbished the report, saying it is flawed and he has been singled out as a scapegoat.[19]

In mid-August 2021, Deputy Mayor of Invercargill Nobby Clark pushed for a vote of no confidence in Shadbolt's leadership. Shadbolt had drawn criticism from fellow councillors for using Invercargill City Council (ICC) properties to store his personal belongings. In response, Shadbolt alleged that he was the victim of workplace bullying and criticised the leaking of a mayoral email to the media.[20][21] On 17 August, it was reported that Invercargil City Council CEO Clare Hadley had illegally accessed an email written by Shadbolt and used it against him during a closed council meeting. Following her apology, Shadbolt and councillors also welcomed an external investigation into the email leak.[22][23] An informal survey conducted by the Otago Daily Times found that 82% of respondents (157 individuals) believed that Shadbolt should resign as Mayor of Invercargill.[23]

In mid-July 2022, Shadbolt was involved in a dispute with Deputy Mayor Clark over whether the Council should cover his rental car expenses when attending a Local Government New Zealand conference in Palmerston North. Shadbolt argued that he was entitled to financial support from the ICC since he was representing Invercargill ratepayers in his capacity as Mayor. Clark contended that Shadbolt should pay for the rental car expenses himself as he had previously done in 2021.[24][25]

In mid-September 2022, Shadbolt attracted media attention when he abstained from participating in the Southland Business Chamber's mayoral debate during the 2022 Invercargill mayoral election. Shadbolt instead issued a statement stating that "After nine terms in office, you should be well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. It is for my challengers to take up the gauntlet and prove themselves to you."[26][27] On 8 October, he lost the election with 847 votes; former deputy mayor Nobby Clark won with 6537.[28][29]

Shadbolt was New Zealand's second longest-serving mayor, after George Perry who was mayor of Hokitika for 31 years (from 1911 to 1942).[30]

Legal problems[edit]

In June 2015, the Invercargill City councillor Karen Arnold filed a defamation case against Shadbolt and Stuff media company (then known as Fairfax New Zealand) at the Wellington High Court, alleging that Shadbolt had defamed her in four columns published in the Fairfax–owned Southland Times newspaper between October 2014 and April 2015.[31][32] Shadbolt and Arnold had clashed about the Invercargill City Council's holding company Holdco borrowing an extra NZ$130 million but then declining to invest in a kākāpō centre.[33] Following a three week trial between February and March 2018 at the Invercargill High Court, the jury rejected Arnold's claims that Shadbolt and Stuff had defamed her on 18 March 2018. Shadbolt welcomed the ruling as a victory for freedom of expression.[32]

Following the defamation, Arnold was ordered to pay both Stuff and Shadbolt NZ$186,000 but declared bankruptcy. In March 2020, Shadbolt tried to get the Invercargill City Council to cover $448,000 worth of expenses incurred during his defamation trial under an indemnity clause in the Local Government Act. When the Council and insurance company rejected his application, Shadbolt sued the ICC.[34] By late September 2020, Newshub reported that Shadbolt was facing bankruptcy, owing over NZ$350,000 in legal fees.[35]

On 14 February 2023, Shadbolt settled his claims against the Invercargill City Council and its insurer Riskpool. By that time, the council had incurred NZ$285,000 in legal fees as a result of the proceedings. Shadbolt welcomed the settlement, stating that it had ended "eight years of hell" and that he had mixed emotions.[36][37]

Outside politics[edit]

He has presented several television documentaries, and the series That's Fairly Interesting.

In the 1990s he appeared in an advertisement promoting New Zealand cheese, where he humorously repeated the phrase "I don't care where as long as I'm mayor", referencing his dual mayoralties.[38] He admitted later that the phrase was developed by an advertising agency.[1]

In 2001, he appeared as a contestant on a celebrity special of The Weakest Link.[39]

In 2005, New Zealand Toastmasters awarded him the Communicator of the Year award.[3] He also played in the movie The World's Fastest Indian, portraying a good friend of Burt Munro who organised social events for Invercargill's motorcycling community.[3]

He also participated in the New Zealand version of Dancing with the Stars where he placed 3rd.[1] In 2006 Shadbolt played the part of the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show by the Invercargill Musical Theatre. He continued his theatre experiences by appearing in 2007 in the Invercargill Musical Theatres production of Sea Cruise.

In 2010, Shadbolt appeared on the comedy gameshow 7 Days as the guest participant in the round Yes, Minister.[40]

In 2012, Shadbolt set the Guinness World Record for the longest television interview. He was interviewed for 26 consecutive hours by interviewer Tom Conroy. In doing so the pair also set the record for the longest single event in New Zealand television history.[41] Shadbolt later said he would have liked to keep going.[42] The record was broken in 2013 by Norwegian novelist Hans Olav Lahlum.[43]

Personal life[edit]

Shadbolt has one son from an early marriage. He met his second wife, Miriam Cameron, in 1970. They have two sons. Cameron left Shadbolt in 1989 after alleged repeated domestic violence. They divorced three years later.[3][44] Shadbolt's current partner is lawyer Asha Dutt and they have one son.[1][45]

Shadbolt was hospitalised for two weeks in April 2006 after rolling the mayoral car near Winton while returning from a work trip to Queenstown. He suffered three broken vertebrae, a bruised lung, and damage to his kidneys. His two passengers were uninjured. He was charged with careless driving and could have faced a maximum fine of $3000, however he was instead discharged and ordered to pay $300 each to St John New Zealand and the Winton volunteer fire brigade.[46][47]

He was knighted in the 2019 New Year Honours List as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM).[48]

In June 2021, Shadbolt revealed that he had been diagnosed with muscle tension dysphonia.[49]


  1. ^ a b c d e McNeilly, Hamish (4 October 2008). "Tinny Tim". New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 23 February 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  2. ^ Meng-Yee, Carolyne (17 June 2012). "Shadbolt a dad again at 65". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Cook, Stephen (12 November 2006). "Shadbolt bashed me, says ex-wife". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b c McNeilly, Hamish (4 October 2008). "Tinny Tim". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Reidy, Jade (2009). "How the West Was Run". In Macdonald, Finlay; Kerr, Ruth (eds.). West: The History of Waitakere. Random House. pp. 245–248. ISBN 9781869790080.
  6. ^ "Karl Marx and Daimler receive rousing reception". Western Leader. 1 December 1983. p. 1. Description: Tim Shadbolt drove the Waitemata City mayoral Daimler towing his concrete mixer named 'Karl Marx' in the 1983 Henderson Christmas Parade.
  7. ^ "Designworks Visionary Leader – Tim Shadbolt" (PDF). January 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013. He stood for mayor of Waitemata City in 1983 and won. He celebrated by towing his trusty concrete mixer behind the mayoral car.
  8. ^ Bidois, Ngahi (17 August 2011). "Ngahi Bidois: Lessons from Tim Shadbolt". Rotorua Daily Post. Retrieved 27 December 2013. [...] my recollections of him were his 'incident' where he towed the concrete mixer with the mayoral car [...]
  9. ^ Bob Harvey (29 September 2010). "Report of the Mayor" (PDF). Waitakere City Council. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  10. ^ Part 1: Votes recorded at each polling place (Technical report). New Zealand Chief Electoral Office. 1990.
  11. ^ Graham, Jill (10 December 1990). "Mayor on the road back to basics". The New Zealand Herald. p. 1.
  12. ^ "Where the votes went in the local polls". The New Zealand Herald. 12 October 1992. p. 8.
  13. ^ "Mayoralties". Otago Daily Times. 12 October 1989. p. 22.
  14. ^ "By-election Special". The Evening Post. 14 December 1992. pp. 23–24.
  15. ^ "December 2002 and January 2003". Bites. DPA. 2003. Archived from the original on 11 April 2003.
  16. ^ "Tim Shadbolt wins sixth term". Invercargill City Council. 9 October 2010. Archived from the original on 12 October 2010.
  17. ^ "As it happened: 2016 Local Body Elections – Who won in your town?". NZ Herald. 8 October 2016.
  18. ^ Fallow, Michael (12 October 2019). "Sir Tim rides again – elected for another term as mayor". Stuff. Archived from the original on 22 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Invercargill councillor disappointed to hear mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt rubbish review of council". Radio New Zealand. 24 November 2020. Archived from the original on 27 June 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  20. ^ Savory, Logan (11 August 2021). "Deputy Mayor says Sir Tim Shadbolt is 'no longer capable'". Stuff. Archived from the original on 16 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  21. ^ Rosenberg, Matthew (11 August 2021). "'Traumatised' Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt claims workplace bullying". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 15 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  22. ^ Savory, Logan (17 August 2021). "Ceo says she should not have shared contents of Sir Tim's email". Stuff. Archived from the original on 17 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  23. ^ a b Rosenberg, Matthew (17 August 2021). "Council intercept of Shadbolt email". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 17 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  24. ^ Harding, Evan (18 July 2022). "Shadbolt in dispute with deputy mayor over rental car payment". Stuff. Archived from the original on 18 July 2022. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  25. ^ Francis, Oscar (18 July 2022). "Shadbolt says deputy stymied travel plans". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 18 July 2022. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  26. ^ Brunton, Tess (15 September 2022). "Sir Tim Shadbolt no-show at Invercargill mayoral debate". Radio New Zealand. Archived from the original on 15 September 2022. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  27. ^ "'I've done my dash': Tim Shadbolt admits he's a 'lost cause' in mayoral race". The Spinoff. 23 September 2022. Archived from the original on 23 September 2022. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  28. ^ Leask, Anna (8 October 2022). "Your Vote 2022: A new dawn in Invercargill as Nobby Clark elected, Sir Tim Shadbolt's reign now over". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  29. ^ "Sir Tim Shadbolt fails to get on to In". The New Zealand Herald. 8 October 2022. Archived from the original on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  30. ^ "Mr. George Albert Perry". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  31. ^ "Councillor sues Shadbolt for defamation". Radio New Zealand. 24 June 2015. Archived from the original on 24 August 2021. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  32. ^ a b Lewis, Oliver (16 March 2018). "Defamation proceedings against Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Stuff fail". Stuff. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  33. ^ Telfer, Ian (27 February 2018). "Defamation trial against Shadbolt underway". Radio New Zealand. Archived from the original on 24 August 2021. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  34. ^ "Mayor Tim Shadbolt to sue his own council". Otago Daily Times. Allied Press. 3 March 2020. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  35. ^ Bull, Jasmin (27 September 2020). "Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt faces bankruptcy, owes $350k in legal bills". Newshub. Archived from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  36. ^ "'Eight years of hell': Shadbolt settles lawsuit against Invercargill City Council". The Southland Times. Stuff. 14 February 2023. Archived from the original on 15 February 2023. Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  37. ^ Girao, Luisa (14 February 2023). "Shadbolt reaches settlement in court case". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 14 February 2023. Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  38. ^ Roy, Heather (8 October 2010). "Heather Roy's Diary : Local Body Elections". ACT Party. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  39. ^ Tim a little red-faced after Weakest Link blue[permanent dead link] (subscription required)
  40. ^ Crayton-Brown, Kimberley (25 February 2011). "Comedians 'riff' about all things Kiwi". The Southland Times. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  41. ^ "Invercargill's mayor sets world record". Yahoo! New Zealand. Archived from the original on 30 April 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  42. ^ "Record-holder Shadbolt wanted to keep going". 3 News NZ. 29 April 2012.
  43. ^ "Norway crime novelist talks his way to live interview record". Reuters. 23 May 2013.
  44. ^ "Shadbolt claims he bedded Kedgley". Television New Zealand. 5 October 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  45. ^ Meng-Yee, Carolyne (17 June 2012). "Shadbolt a dad again at 65". The New Zealand Herald.
  46. ^ "Tim Shadbolt recovering in hospital after car accident". The New Zealand Herald. 4 April 2006.
  47. ^ "Crash costs Shadbolt $600". The New Zealand Herald. 29 June 2006.
  48. ^ "New Year Honours List 2019".
  49. ^ Rosenberg, Matthew (18 June 2021). "Shadbolt opens up on health issue". Otago Daily Times.

Further reading[edit]

  • Shadbolt, Tim (1971). Bullshit & Jellybeans. A. Taylor. p. 202.
  • Shadbolt, Tim (1980). Concrete Concrete. Republican Press. p. 20.
  • Shadbolt, Tim (2008). A Mayor of Two Cities. Hodder Moa. p. 238. ISBN 978-1-86971-100-9.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Waitemata City
Office abolished
Preceded by Mayor of Invercargill
Succeeded by
Preceded by
David Harrington
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Show started
Dancing with the Stars (New Zealand) third place contestant
Season 1 (2005 with Rebecca Nicholson)
Succeeded by