“You can take our stadium but not our neuro unit”

Well spotted on a placard for the Neurosurgery march and hospital ‘wrap’ in Dunedin today. Watch today’s Channel 9 video coverage [link unavailable].

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Economics, Geography, Inspiration, People, Project management

106 responses to “SERIOUSLY

  1. Peter

    I think most people would agree to the sentiments behind that placard. $15m from the Government was instrumental in giving the stadium the vital CPR to go on. How about an ODT sponsored campaign for the Government to step in with a new rescue package for the blowouts, ongoing operating losses and exclusions – sorry – embellishments?

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Sat, 7 Aug 2010
      Can they dare ignore this?
      By Eileen Goodwin
      The Government would be “politically unwise” not to heed the voices of the thousands of protesters who turned out in Dunedin yesterday fighting to keep neurosurgery in the city, southern clinical health leader Richard Bunton says. Mr Bunton, Dunedin Hospital’s chief medical officer, said the protest’s huge turnout – estimated at between 8000 and 10,000 people – showed the campaign was gaining ground. The South is up in arms about a proposal to base all six South Island neurosurgeons in Christchurch.
      Read more + More photos of the march

      The march was organised by the ODT, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, More FM and the Keep Neurosurgery in Dunedin Facebook page.

  2. Peter

    Yes, the neurosurgery cause shows what can be done to apply real pressure, from the whole community, on the Government. With the RWC, and an election due next year, this is the time to apply pressure for a stadium bailout. They will want to showcase the new stadium to the world as it will be an embarrassment for them if it is not finished on time. Our National and Labour MPs, who have supported the stadium, have to work on the Government to support Dunedin and Otago.
    Can we do it? Yes we can!

  3. Unfortunately, it’s not over yet. The Terms of Reference for the neurosurgery panel contain erroneous statements. The most obvious of these is that Dunedin has had difficulty in maintaining clinical viability. This is not the case, we don’t currently have permanent neurosurgeons solely because the ODHB (then) agreed to wait until a regional service was in place.


  4. PS, my collated coverage of the neurosurgery march (includes the placard described at the top of this thread)

    • Elizabeth

      Fantastic work Sam – BIG thanks from What if? for all your time and effort, and same to the people you’re working with~!

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Sat, 7 Aug 2010
        Terms of reference do not spell out method
        By Elspeth McLean
        The much-anticipated terms of reference for the South Island neurosurgical service expert panel released yesterday do not spell out how the panel will carry out its work. A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said such details would be determined next week, when the panel formally began its work following chairwoman Anne Kolbe’s preliminary meetings with health leaders in Dunedin and Christchurch this week.
        Read more


        ### ODT Saturday 7 August 2010 (page 32)
        An Open Letter from the Chair of the South Island Neurosurgical Expert Panel

        Anne Kolbe says:

        “It is very important that whatever we end up with is clinically and financially sustainable and is able to support effective training for young doctors.”

        “It is also really important that people from throughout the South Island have equity of access and equity of outcome.”

        “I really believe that if people are open to examining all the ideas coming forward we can present the Director General with a proposal which strengthens South Island neurosurgical services for the future.”

        The full script of the half-pager is available in print and digital editions of the Otago Daily Times.

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Sat, 07/08/2010 – 2:32pm.
          Comment by Calvin Oaten on The power of the people
          Mayor Peter Chin estimated the crowd marching in support of the neurosurgery retention campaign at about 10,000. He found it “very moving”, exemplifying the “feeling of togetherness” which was something the Government could not afford to ignore, he said. Why not? Not to take anything away from this cause, but some eighteen months ago a crowd of similar proportions gathered and marched in protest over the stadium. Mayor Chin and our local government had no difficulty in ignoring that.

  5. Kiwifly

    well the march i saw 18months ago only had around a 1000 people or so (according to official police estimates) as usual Calvin Oaten is so wide of the mark with his figures that you have to call in to question his integrity. “Similar proportions gathered and marched in protest over the stadium”….. what planet are you on Calvin ????

    • Elizabeth

      Definitely more at the Town Hall though, agree re the march #nowherenearasmany
      No ODT campaign support for stadium march D:

  6. Calvin Oaten

    Kiwifly; regardless of the numbers, which could be endlessly debated, what is not in dispute in both cases is and was, Peter Chin’s response. He led the neurological protest march. He did not even attend the stadium march. He shared in convening the Town Hall neurological meeting. He did not even attend the stadium meeting (which drew some 1800 people).
    I simply make the point that the mayor’s ability to cherry pick issues, and then to pontificate is a display of selective populism.
    But then, I suspect that anything I say would fly way over a ‘kiwifly’s head.

  7. Anonymous

    The same slogan: “it’s a no-brainer” could be equally well-applied to both. Albeit in different tones.

  8. Kiwifly

    isn’t funny how you back track when pulled up on things Calvin …mate you have as much creditability as say….Mr Guest

  9. Calvin Oaten

    Kiwifly; not sure what you mean by ‘backtrack’, but presume it has to do with your view of things. Or is it that kiwiflies fly backwards? That seems the more plausible explanation in your case. You most certainly have very little insight to any discussions here. Still, you seem reasonably familiar with Mr Guest. That in itself would disqualify you from referring to me as ‘mate’.

  10. Peter

    We must remember the neurological issue is not a hard one to support. It hardly pits one section of the community against the other. People are less scared, in their workplaces and on the street, to express their opinion and ‘to be seen’ protesting-something more conservative people are loathe to do. I think the pro stadium people just truly believe that our financial resources must be thrown behind Otago rugby or we somehow disappear off the face of the earth and become a provincial backwater. I find this belief to be sad.
    The respective figures for the town hall meetings and protest marches, to do with the stadium and neurological services in Dunedin, are immaterial and kind of cancel each other out. People clearly don’t want neurological services cut in Dunedin nor did they want the stadium and, now, its ongoing financial stress to our city. As the quoted placard said – you can have our stadium, but we want our neurological services. Something has got to give with both issues.

  11. Russell Garbutt

    Why Chin and his mates came out in support of the neurological unit is easy to figure – it doesn’t cost anything and they don’t actually have to do any reasoning or analysis.

    The time for that was when as large a community uproar was ocurring over the stadium issue, and like it or not, Chin and his mates just buried their collective old heads in the sand.

    Community consultation is linked to community connectiveness and it is revealing to note that it wasn’t Chin and co that started kicking up a fuss when the neurological issue was spearheaded by the ODT and some other individuals in the community, but it was them that joined when prompted by the realisation (probably pointed out by the ODT) that there was a bit of political capital to be made.

    Sorry Peter and co, your concerns for our community have come far too late to be seen as anything other than opportunism – you had your chance to listen to the community and you chose to ignore it – now it’s time for us to ignore you.

    Don’t rank the rank – leave them blank.

    • Elizabeth

      Reckon it’s nearly that time of year to start singing in rest homes, the usual pre-election trick. Yesterday, I was bowled over when a senior said: “Never liked him.” No explanation needed. Not even in a different key. Lots of laughs.

  12. Kiwifly

    its neurosurgery not neurological unit that is under threat …i wish people would get that right …aye Russell?

  13. Kiwifly

    “The time for that was when as large a community uproar was occurring over the stadium issue.” Do you really believe that Russell?…boy are you sadly deluded if you believe that there is the same outcry over the stadium as there is for the neurosurgery unit. It’s not even in the same ball park.

  14. Peter

    Time to get out of the changing rooms at your local rugby club, Kiwifly, and listen to the people of this town.

  15. Peter

    Something I’ve wondered about. How does a politician get into a rest home to hoover up some votes? Do they wait for an invite or do they just gate crash?

  16. Phil

    I’m going to play grumpy old cynic for a moment. Just because I can. I have to say that I’ve been a little taken back by the level of organised outrage over the neurosurgical issue. I will confess to not having followed it too closely, but, near as I can recall, there’s a consultant in Nelson carrying out a study about whether certain services should be regionally centralised. As consultants do all the time. How this has escalated into the current public campaign of horror and despair, I’m not entirely sure. I’m not convinced it could have done this purely on its own.

    What is apparent to me, is the number of high profile citizens, who were/are currently sitting on very shakey re-election ground, who are suddenly charging out there, leading parades and meetings from the front.

    You know, if I was someone who was a bit worried about dodgy historical performances dumping them out of office, this would be the perfect opportunity to launch forth as the champion of the people. A potential loser’s dream come true. And I would be especially glad if the issue happened to grow so big so quickly, that it buried all those dodgy past performance decisions. If only for a few more weeks. If I were such a person.

    Finally, if I were a person seeking to take over the throne of the current dodgy offical, I’d be a bit concerned about the free publicity mileage that offical is currently earning. And I’d probably be making sure that my profile wasn’t getting lost along the way, and that people remember the full history of my opponents and not just their latest outing. If I were such a person.

  17. Phil

    A few years ago I lived in a city of 120,000 people. 300km down the motorway (the former E3) was a city of a similar size. A decision was made to put money into upgrading medical services in the area. Both cities fought hard, each wanting and neither wanting not to have. In the end, both central government and the 2 cities, decided to pull their resources, dis-establish their current hospitals, and build a regional super hospital, located midway between both cities. The quality and range of services improved dramatically, in a way not possible with 2 competing hospitals. Access times and accessibility were not seriously compromised, and infrastructure money could be spent entirely on one site, upgrading road, rail, bus, and air services to the new regional hospital.

    I’m not advocating shutting down the Dunedin or Christchurch hospitals. But, maybe all is not lost if a compromise in the current issue can be reached. Should things ever come to that. Christchurch doesn’t want to lose services, neither does Dunedin. IF the consultant recommends centralising services, and IF central government chooses to act on that recommendation, one of the 2 cities will lose. It could well be Dunedin. If the service was to be centralised, maybe locating it in Timaru would be an acceptable solution. Neither city is more compromised than the other.

    Speaking purely in terms of heathcare (and forgetting about the greed of the university), would the extra 30 minutes by helicopter make that much difference in reality ? I haven’t read about the people of Timaru dying at the moment because they need to travel 200km north or south. And maybe, with pooled resources from both centres, a better service might be offered. That’s surely the goal of the exercise.

    Just a thought.

  18. Anonymous

    In my experience, the operators of rest homes are glad for any kind of light entertainment that can brighten up the residents’ lives, whether that is a politician gathering votes all the way up the ladder of respect to mimes and jugglers.

  19. Russell Garbutt


    I think you are dead right re the local body politicians who have taken this opportunity – whether or how it was created or not.

    Have a close look at the likes of Acklin, Weatherall, Bezett, Brown, Guest, Collins, Noone and co and see if, or how, they have been providing leadership and looking at any form of connectivity with the community they have. Yes, you do see the odd visit to some old people’s homes for a spot of sharing what’s on the table, but little else.

    It was the ODT that got the neurosurgery debate underway and I don’t think we will ever know much of the process of how Chin and co suddenly got woken up to get involved. But I remake my point – this was a debate that they didn’t really have to do anything about apart from showing up on the day and reading a prepared homily.

    So unlike the similar sized demonstrations by the citizens over the stadium issue. That issue involved a high degree of involvement by Chin and co and they simply buried their heads and pretended it wasn’t happening. They didn’t even show up.

    Debating community issues and trying to provide leadership seems to be beyond them.

  20. Johnson

    I think that even to suggest the Stadium issue is in any way comparable to the neurosurgery issue, is at best, fatuous and at worst, offensive. Priorities people. There is and can never be any comparison. Calvin you state “(Peter Chin)did not even attend the stadium march. He shared in convening the Town Hall neurological meeting. He did not even attend the stadium meeting (which drew some 1800 people).” True, but then of course, he didn’t believe the reason for the Stadium march was based on fact or just, so why would he attend? The more important issue is about the Health of the people of Otago and Southland, obviously much more important. Unless you believe otherwise?

  21. JimmyJones

    Phil: there’s no point in being grumpy about political opportunism; that is how the world works. In the case of Mayor Chin’s Town Hall meeting, I am sure he valued the public exposure, but he also knew that the train was about to leave without him and he would look better being the driver than standing alone on the platform. Dave Cull gave him a shove by being on Channel 9 the day before Chin’s announcement. Anyway, for whatever reason, our mayor eventually did his job, and did it well. The Chin Stadium was another piece of electioneering, but one with damaging long term consequences for Dunedin and Otago.

    Russell wants our new council to have “leadership”, but more important is common sense and a willingness to listen. We have had leadership, but we have been led down a dangerous path towards high debt, high rates and economic decline.

    Apart from the Town Hall meeting and the hospital march, I can’t think of any real benefits to having a council for the last 6 years; certainly we are, overall, worse off from it. Am I being too harsh?

  22. Russell Garbutt

    Leadership is an ability to form a vision and inspire others to embark on a journey to fulfill that vision. In short taking the community with you.

    Lots of styles in that, but whatever way you measure it, there is no way that it could be applied to the current crop.

    What I’m pointing out that very similar numbers of our citizens felt impelled or strongly enough about 2 issues lately. One the stadium where a groundswell wanted to make their collective voices heard – reaction of community leaders who were intimately involved in that issue – “go away, we don’t see you, we don’t hear you, we know best”.

    Second issue required very little input from the same people and still they required prompting to become involved, and the suspicion is that they did so for opportunistic purposes.

    The two issues are very different, but can certainly be compared to see if the qualities of leadership can be applied.

    Here is a shining example – on TV1, Mayor Shadbolt was interviewed regarding the Ranfurly Shield match and he managed to get in a line about the neurosurgery issue. Hit national news – good on him. Didn’t see Chin do the same, but I may have missed it.

  23. Kiwifly

    “What I’m pointing out that very similar numbers of our citizens felt impelled or strongly enough about 2 issues lately” one word Russell….BULLSHIT

  24. JimmyJones

    Yes Russell, the Neurosurgery problem didn’t need much vision, leadership or effort from Peter Chin. There was zero political risk; it was a gift horse.

    On the other hand, did it not take vision, leadership and hard work to push his stadium idea through to where it is now? The DCC stadium was, and is, a blatantly stupid and dangerous idea. We told him so, and so did his staff and consultants, but he had a vision and the leadership to persuade some disciples.

    My point is, “leadership” and “vision” are dangerous qualities without good decision-making skills and the ability to listen. Our city will not recover if we vote for a bunch of fools. And a bunch of fools with “leadership” and “vision” is even more dangerous.

  25. Russell Garbutt

    Jimmy Jones – no it didn’t take vision to push through the stadium issue. It wasn’t Chin’s idea. All he was was a funder. What it took was a small number of people to become involved in what was essentially a private project with public funding.

    You or I will never know what ocurred behind closed doors and what agreements were reached. As I’ve pointed out here before, the total number of people to determine that this project would proceed were a majority on the DCC, a majority on the ORC and some buy-in from the CTO. That is less than 20 people who, for whatever reasons they had, to go along with a “vision” that came not from the DCC, but directly from the Otago Rugby Football Union, and then from the even smaller number of people in the private and totally unaccountable CST.

    We do have an inkling of the sorts of things that went on – I was told at a meeting that I needn’t worry about the ORFU debt as “it would be written off”. The claim seemed preposterous at the time it was made, but the net effect was that this is precisely what happened. The time that this claim was made was well before the process had really started.

    Oh yes, Kiwifly – not going to bother discussing anything with you – you seem to have an inability to see anything. Perhaps go back to the changing shed and have a nice cold shower.

  26. Johnson

    Russell, I afraid i agree with Kiwifly, it is utterly offensive to compare the ne’er do wells against the Stadium, that scratched together barely one thousand to march, to this issue. How can you possibly compare it. Absolutely Mr Fly, it’s a “bullshit” comparison. I personally saw three members of the CST the front of the march holding banners and placards, were you not paying attention?

  27. Russell Garbutt

    Johnson and Kiwifly – remind me again why you don’t use your real names?

    • Elizabeth

      Well I see discussion is sinking into the proverbial.
      The long lasting effects of the stadium spend (debt) on the Dunedin community actually far outweigh the cost of losing Neurosurgery to another centre or, say, as Phil suggests, to a halfway house at Timaru – for the sake of practical argument.

      As South Island Neurosurgical Expert Panel Anne Kolbe says (as quoted above from her open letter appearing in ODT 7/8/10):

      “It is also really important that people from throughout the South Island have equity of access and equity of outcome.”

      Dunedin and Christchurch might not be the answer if all equity issues are addressed for South Island people. The future of neurosurgery could lie elsewhere – and at worst it might well entail loss of lives according to weather, geography, rosters, clinical appointments. Whatever.

      In New Zealand, in this low wage economy, we have somewhat unrealistic expectations of our medical system and the potential treatments available to us. Here we are getting older (aging population) and not earning enough to pay for first world medical care.

      Bluntly, while I personally want Neurosurgery to stay in Dunedin – having had cause to see neurosurgical intervention in a parent’s terminal condition for the prolongation of life – I really can’t argue that there aren’t better ways to solve things for the South Island. And anyway University of Otago, as Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg has pointed out, runs the Medical School at Canterbury, so the issue of where Neurosurgery lives is not the Medical School’s doing. Fooling ourselves if we think to hold the fort here if the main population centre is elsewhere. What can NZ afford?

      On a cheery note, reports in Australian media say Australia will fall behind New Zealand in economic performance… future’s always changing – and so our heads need to do.

      Should we be paying for a stadium, if we want a sophisticated hospital set up. Hard question, one answer. Prostadia probably think Dunedinites deserve both luxuries. WRONG. No money.

  28. Kiwifly

    Johnson and Kiwifly – remind me again why you don’t use your real names?…..because we dont have to ….idiot

  29. Elizabeth, I agree with you lots, and would agree with you entirely if it were not for the fact that the centralise-in-Christchurch model will cost us more! We (Dunedin and the country) will paying more for an inferior service. We might have no money but what we have will be used to pay for surgeons in Christchurch to have a roster that enables them to do more private work.

    I’ve also heard a bit in the last few days that Dunedin can’t expect the same health care as, say, Auckland. I disagree entirely. Imagine if every third person arriving at Auckland hospital in need of an emergency brain operation was told, “sorry there, you live in a house divisible by three, you’ll have to go to Wellington, we’ll try and get a helicopter when the weather clears up, have your family got a fast car?”.

    Simply, we have to win this one. Together we will.

    • Elizabeth

      But neurosurgery at Christchurch won’t cost Dunedinites as much as the stadium will for the next decades, and if the rugby use has no currency and the whole thing runs at an operational loss and or is mothballed because it isn’t viable… well, hey we’re still up for clearing the debt created by the Mayor and current set of Councillors. Salt mines for them.

      I guess, Sam, that what’s likely to happen in New Zealand is the larger centres (Auckland in particular) will become unaffordable and unsustainable for a family to reside in – oops, Auckland already is. Meaning small migrations to the small towns and districts is on the cards, over time. While I wasn’t advocating Christchurch as THE centre for the South Island, it is conceivable we should be planning a little more widely than serving the status quo. We should be thinking about ‘what else’ and ‘what if’.

      Realise the arguments about the surgeons at Christchurch with one foot in public and the other in private practice, but where don’t they. They’re skilled, they’re clever, they can. Feels like hi-jacking to Dunedin – and all sorts of preciousness has been attacked lately on that topic.

      Two neurosurgeons have been appointed for Dunedin – will they make it into their scrubs here.

  30. Johnson

    Well Russell Garbutt, (if that is your real name), you seem to focus on the irrelevant details, like respondents names, rather than what matters. You would rather get personal. Fair enough, if thats all you are able to cope with, so be it. It seems obvious that you do indeed think that the Stadium issue is as important as saving peoples lives. How sad and utterly dreary of you.

  31. Russell Garbutt

    Johnson – you fit into the same category as kiwifly.

  32. johnson

    So you’re saying, Russell, or whatever your name is, that its the “same”? That the Stadium is equal in importance even though only one tenth of people cared enough for the Stadium issue to march, when compared with the Nerosurgery issue?? And your only response to justify yourself is to resort to childish put-downs. Is this because you can’t justify your stance? Gee no wonder people got tired of the antics of the STS.

  33. Russell Garbutt

    Jeez Johnson, you have rumbled me. My name isn’t what I post under. It is actually Arthur Dent. Sometimes I post under Ford Prefect as well.

    And of course I’m the Grand Master of the STS.

    Boy, I wish I was as clever as you.

  34. Russell Garbutt

    Oh yes, Johnson, another thing, you are making the news on other sites. I’m sure that your fame is spreading far and wide. Love and kisses from Arthur Dent.

    • Elizabeth

      I like that Russell. This is the ‘good neighbours’ website principle in action.

      Folks, for the next few days you will all have to post (any?) HUGE happenings in Dunedin into the comments columns of existing threads because I’m off to tour the great contemporary architecture sites of Queenstown Lakes district. No time for skiing. Been knuckled to join the NZIA Awards jury for Otago Southland. Didn’t take much convincing.

      The website will continue to be monitored.

  35. Calvin Oaten

    Interesting. Hmmmm….. I seem to remember the neurosurgery issue was to do with the fact that there was an established unit. It was staffed with six surgeons, four in Christchurch and two in Dunedin. Worked well as far as I can see. Problem, the four surgeons’ workload meant the weekends off roster was jeopardised. Solution, increase the number of surgeons in Christchurch by seconding the two from Dunedin. Then bring all cases to Christchurch. Still the same skill deployment total, except it will all be in Christchurch. Additional surgeons in Dunedin will overstretch the overall unit’s budget. But the surgeons will solve the weekend leave situation. Logic suggests the finance would result in a degrading of the Dunedin branch of the unit. Surgeon numbers will be reduced (in Dunedin) and that will be that.

    It has nothing to do with them and us, district parochialism or whatever. It is just to do with budget and surgeons wanting a decreased workload. Not difficult to understand.

  36. kate

    I thought health was for the patients not the doctors.

    • Steady on with talk like that you’ll be accused of making sense :)

      The Health & welfare of the people of this country are secondary to the bottom line accounting charts in the national party caucus offices.

  37. Russell Garbutt

    Speaking of things medical – I have been doing some DNA profiling on “Johnson” and “Kiwifly” and it seems that David vanderVeen and our old friend Doug Rodgers are a really good match.

    Perhaps they might like to confirm this DNA (Did Not Acknowledge) connection?

    • Elizabeth

      Hey I caught that. Bringing in the website enforcers.

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Tue, 10 Aug 2010
        Editorial: Open Minds
        It is often said we live in remote and self-centred times; that members of the baby-boomer generation and their technologically sophisticated, individualistic offspring have little notion of – or need for – the concept of “community”; that self-interest is a predominant motivating force in today’s fast-moving, get-ahead society. So it is hugely gratifying to see the lie given to such ideas by the generosity of spirit, the intellectual purpose and the genuine altruism with which the people of Dunedin, wider Otago and Southland have united behind the cause of keeping neurosurgery in the South.

        We do not believe that because one model – one way of managing matters – has prevailed in the past it must be permanently enshrined in all its particulars. There are undeniable benefits to imagining the future afresh.

        Read more


        ### ODT Online Tue, 10 Aug 2010
        Wait for panel’s neurosurgical services decision, Key says
        By John Lewis
        The Government has adopted a “wait-and-see” approach to the future of the South Island’s neurosurgical services, rather than interfere before an expert panel has reached its decision, Prime Minister John Key says.
        Read more

  38. Russell Garbutt

    Hmmm – seem to have struck a match.

    Perhaps some of the comments can now be put into context. One of the problems of posting under a plethora of nom-de-plumes is that what appears to be several opinions is revealed as simply a couple of opinions published under a number of aliases. Sad really. Back to the changing sheds you guys.

  39. Kiwifly

    you really are a wanker Russell you don’t know who i am and because i disagree with you ,you stork me?man you really are a sad arse mate.I’m surprised the mods allow you on here when you do shit like that….actually I’m not surprised “sigh”

  40. Russell Garbutt

    Some people have a very valid reason to post under a nom-de-plume and advance well thought out arguments or opinions and debate them. I have no issue with that.

    Others use their anonimity to merely abuse and I think that Kiwifly’s comment above – or lets just call him David – is an excellent example of that. We have seen the result of similar behaviour from our rugby ref friend in the past on the ODT site where an apology was required and Calc vanished to reappear in different clothes.

  41. Johnson

    Goodness Russell, how do you find the time ? sorry to dissapoint you. And yes, you really do wish you were as clever as me. Stick to installing projectors champ.

  42. gary hughes

    Russell, I wouldn’t waste your time with these nuckle dragging clowns, they do not possess the ability to look objectivly at an argument and then relate it to cause and effect, ie the government coughed up $15 million so easily for the stadium (which we will have to pay back) and then recoups through tightening its purse strings in other areas. After all the government only has so much to hand out each year.
    The best examples of this sort of debating can be found on the fbs website when thinkers seek information only to be abused by idiots.

  43. as opposed to the ‘knuckle dragging clowns’ who ‘look objectivly at an argument’ and came up with Terrorism as an argument against the stadium.

    The name calling is rather unbecoming from all sides!

  44. Russell Garbutt

    It seems abundantly clear now after this morning’s ODT “revelations” about the stadium that what we all suspected to be the case with what was going to be delivered for what, is now being revealed as true.

    We shouldn’t all need reminding of what we, and presumably the DCC, the ORC and the CTO, were told by Mr Farry and the CST. Only private money, ratepayer funding as a matter of last resort, not a penny more than $188 million, a world-class facility, permanent seating for over 30,000, the list goes on and on.

    We shouldn’t all need reminding of the “lines in the sand”, the conditions imposed and promptly broken, the behind the scenes agreements and understandings reached.

    We shouldn’t all need reminding of the names of the Councillors who, despite overwhelming opposition to the project, voted to start the project and then voted to continue when burgeoning costs became apparent.

    We shouldn’t all need reminding of the other costs we are being asked to bear such as the diversion of SH88, or the purchase of Carisbrook, that are still being removed from the budget of the new stadium. We shouldn’t need reminding of all the hidden support of the ORFU by DCC owned companies that should be maximising their profits to the ratepayers and not small pressure groups.

    We shouldn’t need reminding of the results of independant surveys of ratepayer satisfaction that clearly show a view that the DCC is not listening to the community – nor should we forget that our Mayor and CEO dismiss the findings as “trendy”.

    We shouldn’t need reminding that our projected debt and consequent rates rises are reaching unprecedented levels where spending on core business in real terms is either static or be unable to be financed.

    But I do think we all need to be reminded of these things.

    It is now more than ever apparent that only one, or perhaps a combination, of three alternatives are able to be drawn from what is rapidly becoming a major economic catastrophe for this City.

    Either the entire DCC and ORC Councils were provided with incorrect or incomplete information from the CST, or enough Councillors on both Councils were either unable to understand what was being proposed, or enough Councillors in both Councils knew of the outcomes of what was being proposed and still voted to go along with it.

    For whatever reason, I was reminded of that good, honest Judge, the late Peter Mahon.

  45. Peter

    So succinctly stated, Russell. A pocket history, if you like, of a gross travesty of justice perpetrated on the people of Dunedin and Otago with the complicit support of people who should have known better and spoken up. Once again, all left to those powerless people who had the guts to do so.
    We do not believe the crap that they will find money for the extras ‘elsewhere’ given their track record. Yet another cynical lie that can wait to be finally birthed after the election.
    If you take their word for it, people who deserve the help of charitable trusts will miss out again. ‘That’s the way life is’ Malcolm Farry sagely tells us. He should know about life’s struggles for those not so well off. Shouldn’t he?

  46. Russell Garbutt

    The charitable trusts are another story yet again. These seem to fall into a couple of ways of operating judging by the published lists of grants. The CTO is our community based organisation formed to assist a huge range of clubs and smaller groups, as are a number of the smaller pokie funds. But as I’ve pointed out and it was amplified by Elizabeth in a later post, there are a number of more anonymous organisations such as The Trusts Charitable Foundation which have been quietly handing the ORFU about $660,000 per year for quite a few years.

    Whether it is right and proper for such Trusts to support what is effectively commercial organisations will be up to others to measure and determine, but I’m sure that as many of these “understandings” will be kept as far away from public scrutiny as possible.

    If those Trusts that support the work of our community are succesfully targetted by David Davies and his full time team of people, then it is simply another way that our community will miss out.

    Farry’s reponse is callous and demonstrates a degree of unconnectivity to the community that is truly staggering.

    As has been pointed out many times, the one organisation that is benefitting from all this is the ORFU and indirectly, the NZRU and yet neither have put so much as a brass razoo towards this project. The ORFU would argue succesfully they are not in a position to do so because they are financially inept and have been living beyond their means for years. The NZRU are too busy paying out astronomical salaries to professional players and their structures and worrying about how to deal with the projected $40m loss from running a so-called World Cup.

    Which really beggars the question – why are we building this elephant anyway?

  47. Sweet goodness, there’s a tiny violin pressed between my two fingers playing just for you guys – the last two folk still bringing up the same tired ORFU arguments time and time again.

    Talk about a stuck record.

    Last time I looked the sky hadn’t fallen.

  48. Russell Garbutt

    They may be old arguments, but it doesn’t make them less true. And I don’t think, judging by other comments on this and other sites, that they are only held by only two people.

    Last time I looked DCC debt was at record levels and has surpassed their own debt ratio levels. When do you think the sky should fall?

  49. kate

    Russell and Paul, being right, knowing the facts, having your arguments validated, well done. But where does that leave the City? When I was elected someone said it would be the hardest of terms. No worry, I have never feared a hard battle…. but having failed to win and yet to bear the consequences as a ratepayer, never worry as a Councillor, how does the City move forward? I know how, but the options are not pretty. What do you think the options are? There will be no winners, but where and how do we sell the real priorities.

    Why is a candidate asking this? I have never thought Councillors need all the answers, they need an open mind to listen to find any possible answer and move the best forward. They also need to engage with as many people as possible. If this is a failing, c’est la vie. Would value your clear answers. K

  50. Peter

    $660k per annum to the DCC ratepayers instead of the ORFU sounds like a good place to start.
    How about our wealthy clans who support the stadium? Another good place to start.
    Let them show us how much they are prepared to support the city. Not bludge off it.

  51. Peter

    ‘That’s the way life is, I suppose.’ Malcolm Farry.
    ‘Let them eat cake.’ Marie Antoinette.
    Spot the difference.

  52. David

    Kate – how about asking some tough questions of Delta’s Management on their business case for chanelling money to the ORFU via the likes of corporate boxes.

    I was once told by a Delta employee (at their corporate box) that this is the way DCC channelled ratepayers money to the ORFU. There would be an outcry if they did it directly but they can get away with it via Delta.

    Looking at what else the DCC does for the ORFU (ie. become a banker for them with generous interest rates, build them a new stadium with ratepayers money etc), then it’s pretty obvious who controls the city.

  53. kate

    Peter, Malcolm is doing a job he has been given to do. He is I believe doing his best. He is not meant to front up to Council, our Mayor is the conduit as a member of the Project delivery team. I do think Malcolm is doing his best, within restraints that the Council has given him. No I dont think Council should have delegated and taken that away from our own responsibility but that is our collective fault not Malcolm’s.
    You need to question the actual process and why is Malcolm having to front up for Peter? Why would two opponents (remember the 2004 elections) work together so closely – I do not get it, but although I do not like the process, I don’t think Malcolm is the problem. We need to focus on what is wrong and fix the improper delegations not focus on some well meaning puppets.

  54. kate

    David, I think Delta have misused their sponsorship opportunities at a number of levels from the scoreboards at Carisbrook to seating at the new Stadium. Probably really not allowed to say that as I only know from Grey papers but since staff are allowed to divulge that sort of information why can’t Councillors. Again, another case of us being managed by the Mayor by improper process.

  55. Peter

    If Malcolm Farry is doing his best I’d hate to see his worst. The stadium has turned into an utter debacle with a very unhappy community as a result. He said at the beginning he was taking on ‘a poisoned chalice’. He was at least right about that. Trouble is we don’t have a palatable antidote to fix up the mess.
    I’m always puzzled by this ‘he was asked to do a job business’. You don’t think being a director of the Highlanders with an interest in the ORFU’s welfare was a factor in his ‘calling’ as the so called ‘independent’ chairman of the CST?
    One thing I wouldn’t say about him is that he is someone’s puppet.

  56. Russell Garbutt


    Knowing how things happened is the key to knowing how to fix things. I’m not convinced that all Councillors at either the DCC or the ORC really know how this current situation ocurred. Some do, some have just gone along for the ride, but it must be acknowledged that this wasn’t any part of a grand strategic vision for the City – it was the last desperate moves of the ORFU.

    The options to me maybe are unpalatable but it seems to me that these below are the unemotional facts. No different to running your own business in some ways apart from the social good aspect which also need quantifying.

    1 This City cannot afford a multimillion edifice that can be shown to have no show of returning a profit, let alone meet its costs, and yet its being built.

    2 There are other more pressing issues – water reticulation and treatment, sewage, roading, digital infrastructure, care of the elderly….you know the rest. The costs of meeting these issues are unavoidable and probably now unaffordable.

    3 We cannot rely upon the current small group of people who have proven themselves to be incapable of prudent and responsible managment of the City’s resources.

    4 We cannot ignore sound and strategic business decisions.

    5 The obligation on any new Council is to ensure that all the books are opened wide so that everyone knows what money has been spent, what money is owing, what debts are yet to appear. I am not at all confident that this will be able to be done bearing in mind the multilayered structures that have been set up and the fact that the CST is a totally private Trust.

    6 If it can clearly be proved that the stadium will meet all its financial obligations including debt repayment, depreciation and operational costs as well as returning a profit, then the project should continue.

    7 If it can clearly be shown that the stadium will not meet the above obligations and run at a continuing loss, then I believe we, as a community, should bite the bullet and cut our losses and walk away from the project. Whether we, as a community endeavour to recoup the costs so far because of being misled, misinformed or culpably mismanaged, would be the call of a new Council. There is absolutely no point in throwing good money after bad.

    Lastly, we should have learned from history. This type of project has been repeated time and time again in much larger communities than ours and has invariably been shown to be a never-ending drain on those communities. We only need to look to what has happened to the Olympic stadia in China – monuments to the moment.

    There is a start.

  57. Stu

    I met with David Davies this week regarding a business opportunity. I was impressed with his manner and am actually confident that he can pull this challenge off. I doubt whether the approach that you see from him will be to go back to ratepayers for handouts. I also sense a change in the local business community away from the notion of “looking to Council to solve/fund problems”. Times are changing. Confident and hopeful.

  58. kate

    Peter, as a person asked to construct a stadium, in the purest sense, it is not Malcom’s role to sell the project to the DCC ratepayer – that is the Council’s job. It, …we, failed to do that – actually I never understood the concept so couldn’t/can’t sell it. But throwing missiles at Malcolm is misdirected, or at least pointless as his position is not up for election. That was all I was pointing out. Yes in the future I would like to see the books opened but all transactions go through DCC so that should not be a problem. But if we look at the processes that allowed Malcolm to have control and for the Mayor not to report to the community directly, that is again a Council issue that people like you and all voters can ensure does not happen again. Splitting votes, inconclusive results etc will be meaningless. If you are right Peter, it will need a clear message. That is less likely I think than I might have thought 10 days ago.

  59. kate

    Stu, I do believe Davies has some challenging ideas that might bring some benefits to the Stadium. He came on board with a big problem. BUT DO NOT FORGET the Trusts he is going to are the same trusts DCC is still trying to get $20 million from to reduce the ratepayer contribution – so yes it will have a bearing on rates – somehow.

  60. kate

    Russell, Q7. If walking away costs more than helping it limp along what is your answer? Just a hypothetical – but that is all we have at the moment. But acknowledge your points, Thanks.

  61. Peter

    I remember going to the Grand Opening of the CST Feasibility Report at the Clifford Skeggs Gallery in early 2007. MF went through the options until, hand on heart, he announced that there was only one option: 1A – roofed stadium at Awatea St. If this isn’t selling, I don’t know what is.
    Don’t know the relevance of your last comment here concerning the election and whose standing. It is the democratic right of anyone to stand – including you.

  62. Stu

    Not sure if the Trusts and private revenue that might be targetted could be considered anything directly connected to ratepayer income. I’m comfortable with a regime that does not approach Council directly for funding. Any other trust fund that is contestable is going to very quickly learn the meaning of the word “contestable”.

    Let me say this: it is one of my favourite sayings that in order to fully appreciate Dunedin, you have to go away and come back again. Actually, there’s something similar: in order to advance Dunedin, you need ideas and experience from outside that link to and contribute to local knowledge. I am convinced that is the key to the future. I believe that the days of going back to Council for money are over – the stakes are now too high. I believe that you will see that pattern repeated across major projects in the next few years – there is too much young energy that does not cling to the old ways for it to happen otherwise. I am sure that you will see that happen with regard to the Digital Strategy; I think there is a battle to be fought with regards to Three Waters; I imagine that the stadium will fall out to private funding in the end.

    And hey, if all else fails and the city goes bankrupt, well, artists thrive on adversity, so we should look forward to a long and sustained creative future. (Tongue. In cheek. Not serious!)

  63. Russell Garbutt


    My Q7 response is that firstly the books must truly be opened so that all financial implications are understood and appreciated. Why Council agreed to a private Trust to be one of the crucial steps is something that a Council will have to deal with in that regard, but nonetheless that must be done. You must realistically assess all possible future uses of the stadium knowing that professional rugby, long touted as the anchor tenant, will now be a casual user at best for a few days a year.

    I don’t believe for a minute that it will be less expensive to pay the contracts for construction and tell Arrow, Hawkins and co to stop constructing, than to have to find more and more money to pay for all the things that have been exempted for construction, as well as on-going maintenance and other operational losses.

    The City now owns Carisbrook, it is committed to extensions on the Town Hall for conferences etc – the City would not lose out if Awatea Street was not there. What wouldn’t happen?

    Use an analogy – if you were building a business and you suddenly found out that the costs of running it were going to be higher than the income from it, how much longer would you continue building it? Why should it be different for us.

  64. kate

    Peter have you a date for that meeting? I would be interested to know it.

  65. Peter

    These are some notes from Bev’s speech to the Otago Regional Council meeting on 11 June 2007.
    “Let’s turn the clock back to the last week of February 2007.
    Tuesday daytime: The Community Trust of Otago (chair John Farry) agree ‘in principle’ to donate $10m specifically to Option 1a the roofed Awatea stadium.
    Tuesday evening: Mr Malcolm Farry is asked during public meeting: Who owns the stadium land? He does not divulge – but his facial expression spoke volumes.
    Wednesday: The DCC coincidentally adopt Option 1a for consultation. Remember six options were presented for consideration.
    Thursday: The Community Trust of Otago convene a special meeting to allow John Farry to declare his conflict of interest as a landowner as he forgot on Tuesday.
    Friday: Mr Malcolm Farry declares a $1m donation has already come forward.”
    By the way, only $30 in donations has been received. The $1m donation nowhere to be seen.

  66. Calvin Oaten

    Kate; Peter is right. No matter what you think, Malcolm and his associates, – including Peter Chin and Jim Harland – did their level best to “sell” the stadium. Malcolm stumped the provinces, extolling the benefits. He even said there would be a $20 million economic benefit per year accruing to the districts because of it. Lee Vandervis and I had a session with Malcolm on radio Rhema and it was a constant “my way or the highway” rant all through.
    Oh. and let’s not forget Peter, at the grand announcement Malcolm stated that there would be no call on ratepayers for funding. In fact, he stated that if it could not be funded out of existing resources (whatever they were) then he would have no part of it. And that is a fact. So you see Kate, your faith in Malcolm might be just a little rose hued.

  67. Peter

    Oh yes, Calvin, I remember the little rate funded tour of the province to sell and hoover up money for the stadium. Result? A total flop with very poor attendances, including a cancellation.

  68. Anonymous

    I know what the $1 million was and I know who it was from. And it was retracted. Forget the $1 million, it does not exist. There is no documentation on it, so I cannot prove this.

  69. Peter

    No documentation, to be sure. Just a wink and a nudge.

  70. Peter

    Did you hear anything about the other two $1m donations? At the same time the $1m donation was reported, March 2007, Malcolm Farry is reported in the National Business Review as claiming two other $1m donations were ‘in the wings’.

  71. Phil

    If it’s not Malcolm’s role to bring the community on side with the project, then why is Malcolm the sole source of public information ? The opinion of the public can be, and is, influenced by the press releases from Malcolm. In the absence of any other press releases. So, role or not, that is what Malcolm is doing. If it is supposed to be another person, then Malcolm should be removed immediately from any and all press releases, media interviews, and photo opportunities. To be replaced by the person whose role it is to sell the project to the public. Malcolm seems very happy to take the public spotlight, so he has no choice but to inherit the responsibility that comes with it. You don’t get to have it both ways.

  72. Anonymous

    I believe the other two donations were under the same terms as the first and therefore also did not eventuate.

  73. Peter

    Phil. I think this is so because he is the front man driver. He speaks for others – and himself. This stadium, I believe, is for grandeur. His. He is more than happy in this role so he hogs the limelight. It is proof to all those ungrateful people who didn’t elect him over Peter Chin in 2004. ‘Malcolm Farry will be lost if we don’t elect him’. (He didn’t stand for a council seat). Cr Leah Mc Bey spoke of vanity projects. How right she was. Weak people have fallen into line and bought the bullshit. Now we are paying for the mess that has ensued.

  74. Russell Garbutt

    I note that Cr Paul Hudson is coming in for some stick on The DCC has lost the Plot. site.

    Cr Hudson doesn’t seem to want to attract much attention to the fact that he heads the DCHL group of companies at some considerable benefit to himself in terms of fees.

    What I’m really interested in however is how he manages to deal with what appears at first glance to be an amazing conflict of interest.

    His job as head of DCHL is to maximise the benefit to the ratepayer by paying the DCC a dividend that is as high as he can, but without causing the companies that he is controlling to get into financial strife. That includes getting into debt that has nothing to do with running DCHL.

    Now this is where it gets interesting.

    Cr Hudson is either demanding as a Councillor of the DCC that the DCHL dividend to the DCC is set at a level that the Council requires, or he is acting in a prudent way as head of DCHL to ensure that DCHL are, in fact, operating in a way that enables investment in the operations that the group is involved in.

    But Cr Hudson has consistently voted as a Councillor to demand dividends – not from profits from his DCHL group – but from borrowings. The DCC simply says to DCHL “I don’t give a hoot if you can afford to give us a dividend – if you can’t, then borrow to do so”.

    Can you imagine how this would work in the real world?

    Now it seems that Delta – a company within DCHL – has been really keen to move as much money to the ORFU as they possibly can as well without wanting to tell anyone about it – including the rest of the Council.

    Maybe it’s time for Cr Hudson to start acting in a way that relates to the $110,000 fees he takes on behalf of DCHL, or he acts like a pro-stadium Councillor. For far too long, he has squatted on top of the fence getting the best of both worlds.

    Time to ‘fess up Cr Hudson.

  75. JimmyJones

    Russell G, slimy Hudson, exposed his bits last year at a council meeting. When Athol Stephens told them that in trying to resolve the stadium funding gap, that no more money could be milked from DCHL, Cr Hudson became angry, disappointed and nearly started crying. The reason being that he hadn’t been asked, and he wanted to be even more generous with the profits of DCHL. So to me he looks like a snake in sheep’s clothing.

  76. Russell Garbutt

    Hmm Jimmy.

    I wonder if he still feels that way now an election is looming? Perhaps a sudden burst of reality is about to become apparent.

    Bet no-one can get an upfront statement from him. Like a lot of the pro-stadium, pro-ORFU Councillors, the strategy for them is to lay low and hope that no-one notices them.

  77. Phil

    Well, he could always front up with his proceeds from the buy out of the Hungry Frenchman lease.

  78. JimmyJones

    Russell, I think that Hudson and the other strong stadium supporters will be keeping very quiet about what they have done to our city’s finances. They will pretend to be ambivalent, and tell us that since it is half finished we will have to finish it – even if there are some additional “unexpected” costs.

    It seems to me that there are no councillors willing to discuss the forecasted annual stadium operating losses. This information is critical to the decision whether the stadium construction should be abandoned or not. By law it should have been available for the initial public consultation (annual plan), and so it is even more important that the loss forecasts are not kept secret leading up to the election. Mayor Chin should not be able to require silence from his councillors as a way to protect his political standing from the cold hard truth.

    My comment at the ODT has more on this:

  79. Russell Garbutt

    Jimmy, it will not be hard for some of the pro-stadium Councillors to keep quiet at all.

    Can you honestly think of anything that people like Acklin, Collins, Bezett et al have actually done, or said of any moment, during this last three years. One or two Councillors have actually gone out of their way to be abrasive or beligerent to anyone that dares question their right to be right all the time, but I bet they will be now planning to visit the odd rest-home – replace Winston Peters with Chin in this morning’s ODT Tremain cartoon – and hope that they won’t get any hard questions.

    Time for some community meetings to drag them into the harsh light of reality I think.

  80. JimmyJones

    I agree Russell. We also need to be careful to make sure that any new councillors that we elect are not even worse than the present ones. Some of Kate’s new friends concern me. I think some of them should group together with Fliss Butcher. What do you think Fliss? Some helpers to knit tree warmers and promote socialism and LA21? They might want to join your Sustainablist commune as well.

  81. Phil

    Comments like that show why NZ is not progressing. Real men don’t do Sustainability, right ?

  82. JimmyJones

    No Phil, I hope that everybody, not just real men, will see that no single political ideology should dominate local government decision-making. It’s hard enough getting sensible decisions from the DCC without even more ideologically driven crusaders trying to inflict their particular politics on us.

  83. Elizabeth

    ### D Scene 25-8-10
    Your say: Letters to the Editor
    By KE Kenrick, Roslyn
    I want to endorse Dave Witherow’s letter pointing out Mayor Chin’s double standards with regards to taking notice of numbers at protest meetings. I also remember Mr Farry saying that as only 2000 attended the Stop the Stadium meeting the rest of the citizens of Dunedin were obviously happy with the prospect of a new stadium. I don’t see any of our leaders daring to use that argument about the protest against the removal of neurosurgery.

  84. janet

    Fliss seems to be on some kind of fliss planet – social housing – sounds nice but oh dear! no money in the pot now. But we are getting a stadium instead. She says on her blog site that “sitting on the fence is for the birds” but did just that over the stadium vote.

    • Elizabeth

      Ask Fliss about adaptive reuse and sustainability, er “bricks and mortar”… (don’t ask me why I say that, caught some Fliss tweeting about former Logan Park Art Gallery not so long ago, when she was in a pro stadium mood chitchatting to Richard Boock)

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Sat, 4 Sep 2010
        Removal of bays to start
        By Chris Morris
        Workers will move in next week to begin demolishing part of Dunedin’s former art gallery at Logan Park, Dunedin City Council staff have confirmed. The work would see three bays removed from the southern end of the old gallery building by the end of the month, creating space to expand the University Oval cricket ground, council parks and reserves team leader Martin Thompson said.

        The demolition would cost $230,000, while the overall expansion of the cricket venue would cost $5 million.

        Read more

        • Elizabeth

          ### ODT Online Sat, 11 Sep 2010
          Demolition of part of old art gallery begins
          A crane lifts a section of roof from the former Dunedin art gallery building at Logan Park as the demolition of three bays from the southern end of the building begins. The building, constructed for the 1925 South Seas Exhibition, was the Dunedin public art gallery for almost 60 years.
          Read more


          VERY interesting that ODT is not providing any information – despite it being supplied by media release – on the covenant agreed for the building and curtilage.

          Instead, media comment has become a scam of sorts for the worthies of “cricket”; as indeed was the resource consent decision issued for the old Category I building. DCC ‘slant’ has not been subtle.

          The old art gallery is a community asset that is NOT for the cricket hierarchy to claim as its own. That fraternity has already had substantial investment and redevelopment of facilities to the rear of the Oval grandstand.

          The game being played by DCC Community Life is disappointing but entirely expected.

  85. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 31 Aug 2010
    Families united in support of neurosurgery
    By Elspeth McLean
    Neurosurgery patients and families gave pointed advice to the South Island neurosurgery expert panel last night as they shared poignant stories of their experiences. And while some struggled to find the words before about 1100 people in the Dunedin Town Hall, the message was unmistakable: neurosurgery services must remain in Dunedin.
    Read more

    ### ODT Online Tue, 31 Aug 2010
    Panel hears neurosurgery concerns
    Photos by Stephen Jaquiery and Peter McIntosh
    The neurosurgery review panel appear for a public meeting at the Dunedin Town Hall last night to hear locals’ concerns for Dunedin Hospital neurosurgery services.
    View photos


    Facebook: Keep Neurosurgery in Dunedin

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