Forget about invigoration – LGNZ should aim to restore the democracy its members have debased

Invigorating our democracy was the noble cause championed by  Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull in a speech to more than 600 local and central government delegates, including the PM.   

Point of Order would press instead for  the restoration of democracy in local government.

Many of the 600 delegates will have been party to council decisions – without reference to their citizens – to arrange for iwi representatives to sit on council committees without the hassle of having to campaign for electoral support.

Waikato District Council – while Cull was speaking – was preparing a statement to declare it is planning “to introduce external specialist Maaori representatives to its principle Council Committees after the October 2019 local government elections”. Continue reading “Forget about invigoration – LGNZ should aim to restore the democracy its members have debased”

All in the name of art – ratepayer-funded travel to Canada was part of an indigenous exchange

True leadership is leading by example, taking the time to listen to others, and holding yourself accountable to those you serve and getting on with the mahi you have been elected to do.

So said Porirua mayor Mike Tana in a recent article he wrote for the Dominion-Post to rebut criticisms by local real estate agent Euon Murrell, a former councillor who was defeated by Tana at the 2016 local government elections.

Just what he meant by “getting on with the mahi” probably required many readers to wonder what he was banging on about. The translations we found say “mahi” variously means “work”, “practice”, “make”, “function”, “vocation”, “task”, “routine”, “process”, “job”, “activity” or “action” – take your pick.

More obviously, this is the city leader who – when asked about a council investment of $10 million or so to buy some properties to deal with a leaky homes problem – is reported to have said he didn’t know details of the deal or the amount paid as it was an “operational matter” conducted by council staff.

Although he knew of the plan to buy the properties, he was unaware the purchases had been made and couldn’t comment, he said. Continue reading “All in the name of art – ratepayer-funded travel to Canada was part of an indigenous exchange”

Councillors vote to save the planet – but hey, there are lots of other issues requiring more immediate attention

Great volumes of hot air have been spouted during debates on climate change – enough, we suspect, to exacerbate the threat of rising temperatures.

Inevitably, the declarations of a climate emergency that flow from these debates are nudged aside while the economic interests of a community are promoted.

The tourism-dependent Queenstown Lakes District Council – for example – has voted 7-4 to declare a climate emergency after a presentation by Extinction Rebellion Queenstown Lakes.

The same council has approved plans for a controversial 113-room hotel in Wanaka’s Northlake special zone, although none of 141 submissions was in support.   Residents opposed the plans because of the hotel’s reducing the area’s open space. Continue reading “Councillors vote to save the planet – but hey, there are lots of other issues requiring more immediate attention”

Porirua: a city where the council dabbles in property and cares for its staff while struggling to balance its books

Boris Johnson, aspiring to be Britain’s next Prime Minister, has the gift of the gab until he is grilled about his private life. Then he maintains a stubborn silence, insisting this should be off limits to public scrutiny.

In Porirua, citizens are served by a Mayor who is apt to be circumspect about council dealings that are very much a matter of public interest – especially to ratepayers.

Or (to be fair) maybe he has said a great deal, but has not been fully reported.

A week or so ago Stuff disclosed that beachfront land in Titahi Bay – sold to Porirua City Council to ensure it could be used by the public – was the subject of designs which include detailed options for developing apartments.

These were shown to councillors in a closed-door session, Stuff reported. Continue reading “Porirua: a city where the council dabbles in property and cares for its staff while struggling to balance its books”

Porirua’s Mayor Tana should take a lesson from Sir Tim about the electoral importance of “heart”

Down south, Invercargill  mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt this month demonstrated the political nous that explains why is the country’s longest-serving mayor.

He exercised his casting vote to side with the employers of disabled workers, contrary to an advisory group’s recommendation that another preferred tenderer be hired for a recycling contract.

Southland disAbility Enterprises has held the contract for the past eight years but it is due to finish at the end of this month.

According to the Otago Daily Times, Cr Toni Biddle asked for the tender debate to be made in public, while excluding financial and commercial information, which would be received in committee before the debate.

That vote was split 5-5, requiring Sir Tim to use his casting vote.

”I think you should vote with your heart,” he said, voting in favour of the motion.

After concern was raised about the potential consequences of releasing commercially sensitive information to the public, another motion was passed that only the final vote would be made public.

That vote, which was made in public after two and a-half hours of public-excluded debate, again came down to a split decision.

Sir Tim said, as chairman, he could vote twice in such circumstances, and voted against the recommendation for a preferred tenderer, put forward to the council by the Waste Advisory Group. Continue reading “Porirua’s Mayor Tana should take a lesson from Sir Tim about the electoral importance of “heart””

Wellington City Councillor wants compassion shown to marae – but how do other citizens fare?

You might get the idea from Stuff today that the Wellington City Council has been more than somewhat lax in its governance of building permits.

Stuff reported that Tapu Te Ranga Marae had only one confirmed consent when the main building burned down at the weekend.  This was for a single potting shed.

Despite that, the Wellington marae continued to have paying overnight guests including 27 Scouts cubs, who escaped Sunday’s blaze, and other school groups before that.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean confirmed to Stuff that the council could find no other consents for the entire site. Continue reading “Wellington City Councillor wants compassion shown to marae – but how do other citizens fare?”

Open letter to associate professor sharpens the focus on Treaty of Waitangi and its influence on governance

A champion of the growing practice of appointing iwi representatives to sit with elected representatives on local authority decision-making bodies didn’t have a great deal to say, when questions were emailed to her.

Much of the little she did say – published on Point of Order last month – has been challenged by Bruce Moon in an open letter posted on Breaking Views.

The thrust and parry were triggered by governance changes on the Hastings District Council, which last month voted to appoint Māori representatives with speaking and voting rights to its four standing committees.

The council press statement which announced the decision noted 25 per cent of the local population is Māori and five of the council’s 14 elected members (33 per cent of the total) have identified as being of Maori descent.

The council voted in favour of appointing more Maori to join the elected ones “to be more inclusive and hear the voice of our iwi partners”.  

Associate Professor Maria Bargh, Victoria University of Wellington Te Kawa a Māui Head of School, welcomed this bypassing of the electoral system and the granting of speaking and voting rights to iwi appointees.

Her reasonscan be found in an article on the VUW website headed Academics commend Hastings District Council for inclusive, effective decision-making, .

Continue reading “Open letter to associate professor sharpens the focus on Treaty of Waitangi and its influence on governance”