Dunedin City moves to three-ward system


Determination of representation arrangements to apply for the election of the Dunedin City Council to be held on 9 October 2010

1980346DA – Doc1 (Word document, dated 26 March 2010; 12 pages)

Go to item 40. for the Commission’s Determination.



Does the determination lead to Dunedin residents having their democratic rights eroded as the Dunedin City Council adopts — or is forced by central government to adopt — council-controlled organisations (CCOs) for governance of council activities and finance, including the stewardship of council-held community assets?

As mentioned at What if? recently, there will be a vicious substantial loss of democracy for residents in the Auckland super-city. Dunedin City is not immune. The bulldozing through of the Otago stadium project gives us a strong basis for suspicion.

The October elections may land us in a heap of worse trouble. Starry-eyed idealists baying for a clearance of all existing councillors have to open their minds a little more. The devil(s) we know…

Residents must do their research, nominate strong election candidates, exercise their voting rights, and avoid burying heads in sand thinking they have no critical interest or responsibility in the affairs of community and local government.

Look where the shifting sands got us. A quaint place of darkness and flipflops, awash with sharp shells and bloodied feet: non transparent corporate behaviour from Dunedin City Council.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Design, Economics, Geography, New Zealand, Politics, Project management, Stadiums, What stadium

14 responses to “Dunedin City moves to three-ward system

  1. Russell Garbutt

    Elizabeth – a thoughtful and considered posting.

    What every voter must realise is that they cannot under the present system, vote “out” people, they can only vote “in” alternatives.

    I think it alarming at this stage – about 6 months out from Local Body Elections – that alternatives to the current “headless chooks” have not become more apparent. There may be some there, but where are they, and who are they?

    Voters this year must have clear options – they can choose between the “old hands” that have consistently voted for the stadium and the associated debt levels, as well as voting for kicking out the industry from our Harbourside, or they can vote for those that are really interested and committed to taking a much wider point of view. The current crowd – Chin, Brown, Walls, Hudson, Collins, Weatherall, Noone, Bezett and the like have had their day, but who are the young people that have new visions, new outlooks?

    These will be the people that take our City forward, but it is now time for them to be identified and making themselves known to our community.

  2. Elizabeth

    Thanks Russell.

    I very much agree with Ian Church’s view. The freedoms for the central ward voters are MUCH LARGER than those for rural voters – this is a total inequity that’s just one of the evolving hideous anomalies of the historic local authority amalgamation in the greater Dunedin area.

    The legals on this aren’t clear to me yet. I need to do some research.

    I’m certain, however, Cr Noone is insufficiently critical of the council’s position and the commission’s determination – there are reasons to develop spine Cr Noone, and not for undermining your rural constituents.


    ### ODT Online Sat, 27 Mar 2010
    Voting system revamp
    By David Loughrey
    Dunedin’s voting system has been given a comprehensive overhaul for this year’s elections. Changes announced yesterday by the Local Government Commission mean the city council’s system of six wards has been scrapped in favour of one large urban ward and two rural wards. The urban ward will have 99,880 people with 11 councillors, while the Mosgiel-Taieri ward will have two councillors and Waikouaiti-Chalmers one.

    Ian Church, of Sawyers Bay, argued at a hearing on the issue late last year the change would create a “B-class citizen” in the rural wards who could vote for only one or two candidates. Last night, he thought “not much” of the decision.

    Read more

  3. Russell Garbutt

    There is another issue that was sort of alluded to by one of the existing Councillors in this article – once elected by a ward, all connections with the ward vanished and the succesful incumbent then really had no further connection with the ward.

    I’m not aware of too much activity in the Hills Ward for example that attempted to communicate between the Councillors and the Ward. No public meetings that I was ever aware of, none of the Councillors ever set up a webpage to communicate with their ward – such a simple thing to do – but Council seems to rely entirely on what they want to hear and consequently believe. I suspect that this lack of communication is a great deal less in the rural wards.

    Wouldn’t it be a good idea if Council itself set up a website that they could use to explain their positions, and where ratepayers could address questions or express views? I think however that not too many of the current Councillors would like that to happen.

  4. kate

    Russell, I am happy to use this site to explain my views but also happy to correspond by direct email albeit sometimes your questions need time and consideration, and I do appreciate thinking about them is often more helpful than necessarily answering them!

    I found myself rather conflicted with this decision – I supported it at Council level as I believe the committee we appointed did a fabulous job and considered everything. And if we can’t accept a committee decision of that calibre then we also undermine the powers of delegation generally; while I also accept there are inadequacies in the democratic process of some getting one or two votes and others 11.

    The argument at the table was around the transition from 1989 and that it really needs another term or two for the rural voice to be sure it will be heard and given regard to.

    The question of wards though is only an electoral convenience and as soon as we are elected we are Councillors at large and I have been happy to deal with a number of issues much further afield than my own ward.

    Democracy is a wonderful thing but what it actually means is rather hard to tie down – even the USA generally has two choices for President – by the very nature of funding – that is not democratic either – but using the US as an example of things good is never an easy case to argue! Would a council with 11 living in Maori Hill be democratic?

    The main issue as the [associate] professor pointed out today – is not who stands, but who comes out to vote, that provides the democracy; can the candidates engage them enough to open their voting papers, fill them out and return them?

  5. Would a council with 11 living in Maori Hill be democratic? Yes it would, if it represented the wishes of the people. The important thing is that all of the people have an opportunity to vote for all of the council. This change goes some way towards that. In my opinion, it should have encompassed the ‘rural’ sectors as well. That way we may get 5 from Maori Hill and 6 from Middlemarch. Fanciful, but possible, and that would be democracy.

    But seriously, Dunedin’s latter day problems have not been so much the system, but rather the calibre of our representatives. Strength of character from the mayor and councillors would not have seen such an abrogation of responsibility and the rising influence of the non elected bureaucracy.

    This is no better demonstrated in this era than by the incumbent mayor’s very first action of signing off the deal to give Trustpower the right for 99 years to use our land and our water to generate power for profit without so much as commercial lease or royalty fee. Just $1 per year.

    All downhill from there. The parking fiasco, the rubbish dilemma, the financial justification of the $45m plus ‘international conference complex’, the controversial ‘harbourside dream’, and of course the STADIUM. Every one of those extravaganzas have been promoted and pushed by the bureaucracy, led by Mr Harland. Why? Because the mayor and council relinquished the control to him. What else was he to do?

    Result, runaway debt heading to astronomical levels, while our elected people sit around muttering ‘rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb’ incessantly but exercising no control at all. The worst aspect is that most of the incumbents have been there for several terms, suggesting an inability to learn and improve.

    Logic says that they must go. But will they? This is one of the frailties of democracy. Its ability to throw up these inadequate people time and again suggests that in the end people get what they deserve. The only answer is the right people. But who are they? How can we tell? Would they put themselves forward? Indeed, why would they?

    Would a new mayor have the bottle to tell the CEO to get behind his desk and do what he is paid for, which is to administer policy as dictated by elected council? Or would [s/he] allow the status quo?

    So many questions, so few answers. It’s a tough ask to expect a turnaround, but if there isn’t, and soon, then I am afraid Dunedin will be looking at a declining future.

    {The currently proposed and budgeted Dunedin Centre Redevelopment, which includes building changes to the Dunedin Town Hall, the Glenroy Auditorium and the Municipal Chambers, has not been touted as an ‘international conference centre’ by the Council. The complex will be adapted, in stages, to accommodate performance, concerts, graduations, hospitality, seminars, meetings, conferences, trade shows and similar. Due to lack of overall size and geographic location the complex isn’t conceived of as being able to attract ‘international’ conferences although it doesn’t preclude them – given the availability of nearby venues (including the Regent Theatre and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery) to complement Dunedin Centre capacity. -Eds}


    Note: Discussion and replies following on from Calvin’s comment here in regard to the Dunedin Centre Redevelopment project have been moved to: Public meeting: planning the future of Dunedin heritage buildings – to assist archive searches.

  6. Calvin and Russell. I think not enough people of the right calibre stand for council because they witness what’s going on around the council table and are turned right off. It takes courage to stand for those kind of people. Some say the salary is not good enough to attract the right people. I don’t agree, myself. High salary does not automatically equate with high calibre. To be honest I can only think quiet encouragement to stand, of those with ‘strength of character’ as you put it, can work.
    We need candidates who have both brains and integrity.

  7. Excuse me Editor; but if you look at the so called business plan supporting the whole Dunedin Centre redevelopment you will see it is based wholly and solely on conferences and the increasing of same. Practically no mention of any other activities, except university graduations. Have you seen the plan?

    You and I know that it has neither the size nor the geographic location to attract “international” conferences. You try and tell them that.

    {The events you mention will in part subsidise community use of the community-owned asset – it’s not that the other uses don’t exist for the Dunedin Centre’s future activity. The buildings in the complex must be brought up to code compliance and this represents a large proportion of the capital spend – this has been discussed elsewhere at What if?. Old news for those following or involved in the project. There are no real surprises; the council has been open in its process and through consultation. You were always welcome to participate in this process that members of the public and stakeholder groups were comfortable in contributing their time to. There is a sense you might be a bit late with the criticism; the friendly horse hasn’t bolted, it is plodding on diligently. If you have gripes – speak directly to your elected representatives in person. We hasten to point out that posting here won’t solve anything if you’re genuinely concerned that all is not right with the proposed Dunedin Centre Redevelopment. You can also make a submission to the Dunedin City Council Draft Annual Plan 2010/11. -Eds}

  8. Hello Ms Editor; I am sorry, but I beg to disagree on a good number of points. First, the whole project was predicated on the development of conferences, dating back some seven or eight years, first instigated by Peter Brown and Debra Symes, subsequently pursued by Kate Styles. If you care to look at the history, you will see that it has all been promulgated on the increase of conferences. As the costs escalated, so too did the projected number of conferences and revenue budgets. It has never been about other benefits, other than to placate the people expressing concern about the cost. And that, editor is the crux of the argument, THE COST!.

    You may well have your opinions to which you are entitled but make no error, this whole exercise, (other than the refurbishment of the Town Hall which is due and essential) is a campaign initiated by staff, and promoted by staff in a classic case of empire building.

    You say it has been consulted extensively, and that is true. But that doesn’t necessarily right. Witness the stadium as proof of that.

    In a sense I might be a bit late with criticism, if I have gripes I should speak to my elected representative, you say. Well. have you not read my letters and articles published over the years? Why would anyone bother now to talk to any of the current obdurate lot?

    I am sorry Elizabeth, but I do think the horse has bolted

  9. Phil

    There’s a few un-necessaries in this project. I agree with Calvin on that front. Not as far as the Town Hall goes, but the redeveloping of the Municipal Chambers. Spending that kind of money just to create private meeting rooms for councillors is not something I agree with. Not when the Civic Centre already has meeting rooms available for use.

    There were more cost effective alternatives available, other than the path taken.

    • Elizabeth

      Not sure where you got this information from Phil –

      Municipal Chambers, besides the Council Chamber and the Visitor Centre (i site), will comprise publicly usable and hireable function and meeting areas (breakout space) – these aren’t restricted to use by councillors.

      NZIA Southern amongst others pushed for the building interconnections; this also allows direct entry to the Dunedin Centre off the Octagon, and improved wayfinding in terms of horizontal and vertical circulation within the building complex – a total plus!

      Our earlier discussions at What if? referenced architect Norman Oakley’s recent researches on the Octagon – noting the historical design of the ‘back end’ of architect Robert A Lawson’s Municipal Chambers. Lawson designed the back wall with ‘openings’, as historical photographs show, anticipating future connection into the public building that would eventuate ‘behind’. Needless to say, the later Concert Chamber didn’t utilise the ‘openings’; instead, a void was created between the two buildings. The void has been useful in terms of planning contemporary services and managing level changes for the two buildings.

      Key features of the approved plan for the Dunedin Centre Redevelopment are:

      * Transforming the Glenroy Auditorium into a multi-use space suitable for orchestral music, conferences and other uses.
      >>> * Extending the Glenroy foyer into the ground floor of the Municipal Chambers building. This space will double as a discrete conference/function space.
      >>> * Converting the first floor of the Chambers into two new conference/function spaces.
      * Building a new entry to the Town Hall on Moray Place, which will provide front entrance disabled access.
      * Building a new wind lobby entrance to the Glenroy Auditorium on Harrop Street.
      * Improving the technical infrastructure within the building and room acoustics for function spaces.
      * Building new kitchen facilities.
      * Improving the ventilation systems in both the Town Hall and the Glenroy Auditorium.

  10. Elizabeth
    It appears a comment or two have been removed. I posted one last night, but it is no longer there.The post was expressed in measured terms so it can’t have been withdrawn for reasons of lack of ‘decorum’. Explanation?

    {As noted by What if? last night and this morning, comments received on the Dunedin Centre Redevelopment at Dunedin City moves to three-ward system have been moved to Public meeting: planning the future of Dunedin heritage buildings – to assist archive searches. No comments have been lost or removed from the blog in this process. -Eds}

  11. Hi Elizabeth: thank you so much for the lesson on how to win an argument. You simply remove the opposing points of view and declare victory. Excellent, but those are the joys of editorship. Unfortunately in the process all credibility is removed with it. Shame really, a good site now prostituted.

    {We’re not selling anything here – it’s a blog. By attempting to stay on topics suggested by the published threads we can assist reader and referent searches of the archive we create.

    As noted by What if? last night and this morning, comments received on the Dunedin Centre Redevelopment at Dunedin City moves to three-ward system have been moved to Public meeting: planning the future of Dunedin heritage buildings – to assist archive searches. No comments have been lost or removed from the blog in this process. -Eds}

  12. It’s all a bit deja vu for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s