Jim Harland

Dunedin’s rates, compared with other centres, were still at the lower end of the spectrum, and were only 3.3% of household income for a median residential household in the city.

### ODT Online Wed, 29 Dec 2010
Jim Harland: a man of myriad ventures
By David Loughrey
After more than a decade at the helm of the Dunedin City Council, chief executive Jim Harland is about to move on. He tells council reporter David Loughrey the projects completed in that time have made the city a better place, despite their cost.
Read more

Related Post and Comments:
29.10.10 DCC Chief Executive resigns – timing is everything!

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Stadiums, Tourism, Town planning, Urban design

135 responses to “Jim Harland

  1. peter

    Interesting that Jim Harland is not even 100% sure the stadium will be successful. This is a smart move for him to say this. It kind of lets him off the hook, in his own mind, and he can now leave it to others, like Farry, and pro stadium councillors, like Richard, to take the flak when it inevitably can’t be financially sustainable without continued council life support. Jim Harland has now ‘moved on’ to a new job. He was a very clever operator.

    • Elizabeth

      Jim’s staying on the Fubar Stadium project delivery team, and he’ll be visiting the dominican republic of Dunedin through his directorship with NZTA, so not quite out of the accountability picture yet.

  2. peter

    True, but he can slip into the background more, I suspect, while still pulling strings.

    • Elizabeth

      Think you’re right, Peter. It’s not like the stadium project was ever planned with sustainability in mind, just a bad business case!

  3. Russell Garbutt

    One of the features we have seen over and over, is people who are leaving prominent positions rewriting history. In this case, I’m not sure whether it is Harland or the ODT sycophant, Loughrey. In either case, no really hard questions, and a great opportunity to paint Harland in warm fuzzy colours. Dunedin has deserved better than this man, and the legacy that he has driven in terms of debt on ridiculous projects will be remembered for a long time.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    Jim says he is proud of the things that have been done over the last ten years which make Dunedin a better place to live. Why, and how does he measure better? Is taking the city’s debt from $60-80m to $350-60m making me feel better? I don’t think so. Does $50m make us into an international conference centre? I don’t think so. Does the sight of the busted ramp at the St Clair sea wall make him feel better? The water upgrade and the prospect of the Tahuna sewage treatment upgrade makes me feel better. But that was in the pipeline (pun unintended) long before ‘Jimbo’ arrived on the scene. Does the disguised rate burden due to the taking of extortionate amounts of money from DCHL in lieu, make me feel better? I don’t think so. Does the resultant debt of DCHL being over $450m combined with that of the DCC’s approaching $800m make me feel better? I don’t think so. Does the seeming doubt he has over the performance of the stadium make me feel better? Absolutely not.
    Sorry ‘Jimbo’, I think you are a seriously misguided incompetent person, and I for one am happy to see you go. Pity you ever came.

    • Elizabeth

      An aside:

      ### ODT Online Thu, 30 Dec 2010
      Delta expands its reach
      By David Loughrey
      Two new contracts won by Delta Utility Services have extended the reach of the Dunedin City Council-owned company around the South Island.
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        Calvin, I can’t take umbrage. I’m more concerned that past and present councillors didn’t deliver the kind of comprehensive brief and direction to their CEO that I would’ve wanted.

        My continual thought is the councillors are more trouble than a chief executive. Mr Harland flew some kites, yes, blue-sky thinking and all – however, living in an intellectual and political vacuum at times (or more often than not given who was elected) must have been soul destroying to say the least. And that’s where slippage occurs.

        Having lived in Dunedin during Mr Harland’s tenure has not made me personally worse off, and the city in the last ten years has been much more edgy than when I arrived/returned – I like that. One person sure as heck isn’t responsible for the progress; one person doesn’t cause all the woe to happen, not across a city as ‘amalgamated’ as this one.

        If I may say, one person doesn’t wreck the council finances – that is the preserve of a group.

        Then too, I look at the players that sit outside DCC and who have exerted – and continue to exert – undue influence over DCC (by capture). It’s those types who should be rooted out and exiled to White Island.

        I doubt very much if the current councillors (with a minor few exceptions) have any idea of how to manage a CEO, a CEO that thinks and has business connections.

  5. peter

    There’s a lot of truth in what you say, Elizabeth. I think there have been councillors who have perhaps been overwhelmed by the job and just look for guidance in where to tick the boxes. Admittedly a lot of council meeting stuff must be incredibly boring to read and it would be hard not to switch off at times, but for crucial issues they need to be on the ball. With the stadium it was clear what they didn’t bother to read – or asked to read – and when they were found out they were angry because they were exposed.
    There is the perennial problem of flakes who don’t know how to think for themselves and vote depending on what way the wind is blowing or who is more persuasive in spinning bullshit to them. There are also the downright lazy who just see a council position as an income stream. I was aware, during the recent election, of those whom I wondered were standing for this reason alone when you looked at their employment background. Not a good enough reason to stand.
    Still…it’s a tough job if you are conscientious and trying to do your best, amid all the criticism. It must be hard to bear at times. Of course, as you mention, there are powerful outsiders who push their weight around and it takes strength for a councillor to tell them to F… off – so to speak.

  6. Calvin Oaten

    Elizabeth, you can if you like. You say we can’t blame one man, but we only need to look at the main moves to see where the troubles started. ‘Jimbo’ disestablished the remnants of the city’s engineer’s dept thereby putting us totally into the hands of consultants. Worse, this leaves us with no in-house expertise to assess that which the consultants produce. Even after that reduction in in-house activity we still saw staff costs rise from around $21m per year to over $45m and rising. Then, he established the hierarchy of the coterie of ‘senior managers’. Their performances have been, on the whole, less than memorable. They have been responsible for the promotion of a great number of the excessive capital expenditure, the parking fiasco, the St Clair sea wall cock up and the rubbish collection bin ‘boondoggle’. ‘Jimbo’ and Peter Chin were the two early protagonists of the stadium. Sorry Elizabeth, I don’t retract from anything I have said.

    • Elizabeth

      Calvin, do you have the other side of the balance sheet worked out, listing the useful and progressive things the Dunedin City Council has achieved for its citizens – helps to have the full measure.

  7. Anne

    I appreciate both Calvin and Elizabeth’s razor sharp analysis. What gets me is that a Town Clerk can promote “visions” of his/her own, eg the proposed Harbourside development as it was described in a previous ODT interview with Jim Harland. This so-called CEO was able to define his role and carry out his “visions” because the elected representatives were either complicit or weak or did not understand the role of the Town Clerk.

  8. Kiwifly

    Sorry ‘Jimbo’, I think you are a seriously misguided […] person, and I for one am happy to see you go. Pity you ever came…..I’m very sure a lot of people feel the same about you Calvin.

  9. Anne

    To Kiwifly:
    Jim Harland was a servant of the ratepayers and if he was misguided, it was because the elected members let him steer and drive his/their pet projects in what seems to me an uncontrolled manner. Personal attacks are not acceptable.
    Calvin Oaten is one of the cleverest, most persistent and non-partisan at analysing the actual state of affairs with the DCC. He should definitely stay!

  10. peter

    Waiting, in vain, for Kiwifly to say anything of substance.

  11. peter

    Jim Harland wasn’t the only one who spoke of ‘visions’. I clearly remember an ODT interview with Malcolm Farry soon after the ‘stadium vision’ was announced in February, 2007. The article was basically an embedded journalism article eulogising The Great Man’s words. With the article was a photo of Malcolm, looking into the distance, with the background all blurred to accentuate the visionary pose. It made me want to spew. It was a a shameful piece of propaganda.

  12. Phil

    I agree with Calvin. The dismantling of City Consultants was a cockup of the first order. The spin benefits never eventuated. The actual cost to council increased, loyalties were shifted, and the available skills decreased. The only advantage was to Jim personally, in meeting his KPI requirement not to increase staff numbers. By selling off 40+ staff members, he could employ 30 more, and still look like he came out ahead. The fact that he had to pay more to hire back the services of consultant engineers fell outside the scope of his annual performance (and bonus) review.

  13. Kiwifly

    Waiting, in vain, for Peter to say anything of substance….there fixed it for you

  14. Calvin Oaten

    Elizabeth: Fair enough. The Regent revival. Largely forced upon council by the Regent Theatre Trust’s dedicated enthusiasm. Council eventually did the right thing. Believe it or not, the Chinese Garden. Full marks to Peter Chin on this. My only criticism is it is in the wrong place. The water upgrades, well done, well overdue, but hey, this is what councils are supposed to be about. Another point, most of the capital used here was in the $85m peak before ‘Jimbo’ came into the frame. The sewage treatment upgrade, though we must wait the outcome to see how cost effective the result is. The energy recovery aspect will largely determine this. The Logan Park development, except it far exceeds budgets, which gets back to my comments on ‘senior managers’ abilities. The St Clair sea wall. Up to the point where the consultants have been let off the hook over making good ‘PP’ design of the stairs and ramp, exacerbated by the not insisting on the putting right. Yes Elizabeth, there are a lot which is good, but frankly, sod all due to ‘Jimbo’ and his acolytes. Even the credit card fiasco is down to him. Is that being kind enough?

    • Elizabeth

      You’re a hard man, Calvin Oaten. Of course I mainly agree with your surmising, I just like to check a balance sheet :D

  15. Richard

    Opinions aside and simply for the record:

    (1) The statement by Calvin Oaten that “(Council) has no in-house expertise to assess that which the consultants produce” is incorrect. Nor did (Jim Harland) “establish(ed) the hierarchy of the coterie of ‘senior managers’”. It was in existence long before he took up his appointment albeit under differing titles.

    (2) The statement by Anne that “the elected representatives were either complicit or weak or did not understand the role of the Town Clerk” fails to recognise that no such office as “Town Clerk” has existed since the changes made to the Local Government Act in 1989 came into force. The role and responsibilities of Chief Executive are set out in Section 42 of the Local Government Act 2002.

    • Elizabeth

      Richard, you will be aware of the inference(s) Anne places on her use of the term “Town Clerk”. Clear as a bell to all of us, surely.
      Your correction to Calvin is not proven, see: “The statement by Calvin Oaten that “(Council) has no in-house expertise to assess that which the consultants produce” is incorrect.” In what way do you opine the in-house expertise exists, “your facts” please?

  16. Calvin Oaten

    Richard; so that makes it ‘all right’?

  17. Richard

    I am simply correcting “own facts” not to be confused with “opinion”.

  18. Richard

    Whatever the inference, the position and role of a Town Clerk and the relationship that existed with elected members and staff are quite, quite different to those of a Chief Executive.

  19. Russell Garbutt

    The sole employee of the Council is the CEO – it doesn’t really matter a hoot whether the position is called a CEO or a Town Clerk and I think that most people fully understand Anne’s point. The problem is one of the tail wagging the dog in this case and we have certainly seen in Harland’s case his setting of policy or “visions” which have been largely taken on board by a weak and visionless Council in the past. Harbourside is one that springs to mind, but of course his role in the Carisbrook Working Party was crucial to the interests wishing to pursue a new rugby stadium.

    People like Harland rely totally on being able to control Council and this is done in the main by controlling the information stream. Whether that is information from Council employees, or others, the Council papers all come through the CEO/Town Clerk. Crucial to this information stream is a relationship with the Chair of the Board (call him a Mayor), and if you have a Mayor who simply accepts what he is being told then the CEO will be very happy and the wagging of the dog will continue apace. Get a different Mayor who may have some fairly strong policy standpoints or who doesn’t get confused about the governance and management roles, and things might get quite uncomfortable for the CEO.

  20. Calvin Oaten

    Richard, you seem determined to demonstrate that you are yesterday’s man.

  21. Calvin Oaten

    Russell; it ought not get uncomfortable for the CEO if he is correctly fulfilling his function. This, of course, is to manage the implementation of policy which is determined by the Mayor and council after all due diligence has been done on all aspects of any project or policy. It is not the function of the CEO nor staff to recommend or set policy. That is where the system has come unstuck over recent years. As we know, ‘Jimbo’ has taken it upon himself to fill the vacuum and make policy on the fly by default. The ‘harbourside dream’ and his influence in driving the stadium are two classic examples of, as you describe, ‘the tail wagging the dog’. Couldn’t have happened if the Mayor and council had been competent and diligent. The result is that so much of what has happened has been decided by non elected people with agendas at odds with the greater welfare of the citizens. No better example of ‘so much being asked of so many for the selfish gratification of so few’, can be seen than the stadium.

  22. Robert Hamlin

    Alles fur Dunedin?

    I for one am very uncomfortable with this weird concept that Harland is (was) the DCC’s only employee. If this is so, then who employs the other 600 and odd staff? If it is Harland, does he also pay them, and does he have some sort of expectation of exclusive loyalty from these staff as a result?

    I have worked for a number of large organisations, both public and private, and it has never been an expectation or understanding that I was employed by a single individual within that organisation, however senior. Even in a PLC that is wholly owned by a single individual, an employee is answerable to the Board of Directors. While this responsibility may be transmitted to its ultimate destination via the CEO, it NEVER stops at that level. The reasons for this should be obvious. The CEO does not carry any capital risk w.r.t. the consequences of their decisions, while the shareholders that the Board represents most definitely do. (For shareholder read ratepayer and for Board read Council) . This is one reason why companies where the CEO is also the Chair of the Board have a remarkably poor track record with regard to responsible governance with regard to the interests of the owners of that company.

    To put it bluntly there is a difference between reporting to someone and being employed by them. It is important not to confuse the two. This local confusion appears to be a cultivated one. It is a close cousin to the similarly cultivated confusion about councillors’ ‘collective responsibility’. Cabinet ministers have collective responsibility, because they are appointed to the position by the PM. Elected members of Parliament do not. Why? because if they did John Key could gag Phil Goff. While this may appeal to some, the threat to representative democracy should be clear if this became common practice. For this reason No PM has tried to ‘gag’ an opposition MP using this concept. Regrettably the same cannot be said for Mayors.

    If the CEO of the DCC is truly the community’s only employee, then closest analogy I can get to the relationship that the CEO enjoys with their staff is the relationship that Adolf Hitler enjoyed with the Wermacht. The German state paid their wages – but they swore an oath directly to Hitler himself. The outcomes of this arrangement were not good for either the Wermacht or the German citizens who paid their wages!

    If this is indeed the case, and it is an outcome of the Local Government Act 2002, then it is simply another lousy outcome from a lousy piece of legislation.

  23. Phil

    Sorry, but the current DCC staff roll does not contain geotechnical, water/waste, civil, or road engineering personnel suitably qualified to the level required to peer review professional consultancy work. A couple of guys with outdated NZCE qualifications (actually one has the UK equivalent instead) and a department of retired plumbers is not the same thing. If the skill level was already within the staff, then consultants wouldn’t be required to be engaged.

    Jim certainly did shuffle the reporting heirachy and group structure around on his arrival. The only one of Murray’s team who survived the chop, from memory, was Athol. Jim needed Athol as he was the one who understood the money. The rest of the senior team (affectionally referred to as the Spice Girls) ended up scattered to the winds.

    I think that Jim will be most fondly remembered by the staff for the somewhat less than comical grading review. The purpose of the plan (cunning as it was) was to give the Planners a salary increase. But, because all staff are linked together by grades with each grade having a salary cap, you couldn’t adjust the salary of one grade without affecting every other employee within DCC. The brilliant solution was to wipe every grade from every position and make each group of employees re-apply for their salary grades again. The fate of each group of employees would be determined by another group of employees. City Consultants salary grades, for example, were reviewed by the Water/Waste department. Slightly biased agenda there, and obviously highly qualified in determining financial worth, but never mind. The exception to the process was the Planning department, who were assessed by the CEO himself.

    To cut a long story short, every staff member within DCC had their salary grade reduced at least one grade level. With the exception of the Planners, who had their salary grade increased by 2 grading levels. All was not lost, however. There was a right of appeal to the DCC HR department. Which, of course, everyone did. Except for the Planners who were rather pleased with themselves.

    The end result was that the HR department returned all appealing employees to the exact same salary grades they were on before the process started. The final decision was gleefully reported by the CEO as all staff members receiving a salary increase.

    Confused ? I still am.

  24. Phil

    One of the main reasons for staff members being employed by the CEO and not by Council, was (apparently) to prevent Councillors from using their position to influence the work of individual staff members. Supposedly preventing any potential abuse of power. Standing orders prevented Councillors from contacting staff members directly, and from instructing staff members. Although a couple of long standing Councillors seemed not to have received that memo. In effect, Councillors had no more authority to influence DCC operational matters than any other member of the public. Any request for information or service had to be directed to the CEO, who would then pass it on to the appropriate department if he deemed it to be a suitable request. At least, that’s the theory.

    • Elizabeth

      Phil, I could start writing an essay about the (proposed) Harbourside Plan Change in light of your comments but I haven’t time tonight. A lovely case in point exists there.

  25. Stu

    Your confusion stems from the conflation of “Council” as the governance body and “Dunedin City Council” as the employer.

    Council as a governance body can appoint the Chief Executive who reports directly to Council as a governance body.

    Dunedin City Council can employ and/or form contracts with whomever it pleases, at the authorisation of the Chief Executive, as directed by Council as a governance body.

    As for collective responsibility, members of Council as a governance body are collectively and severally responsible for their decisions in the same way that Company Directors are. That is distinct from Parliament being collectively responsible because, even though both Council and Parliament contain elected members, Parliament is not the executive (governance) body – Cabinet is.

    The point that I think some in this thread are making is that it is critically important for the two-way flow of ideas and direction to be healthy, between Chief Executive and staff, and between Council and Chief Executive. It seems fairly obvious that there has been a degree of capture by both internal and external influences over this relationship (I think a contributor to the Otago Chamber of Commerce summed this up by suggesting that instead of going through the Annual Plan submissions process, to contribute an idea they would “just send Jim an e-mail”).

  26. Robert Hamlin

    Hi Stu,

    Thankyou for your reply. Are you saying that “Council” and “Dunedin City Council” really are separate organisations? For while the Board is the governance body of a company it is still an integral part of the single PLC entity, along with its CEO and staff. You seem to have some knowledge/info here, so a couple of q’s follow which you may be able to help on.

    If “Council” is now fully separated from the “Dunedin City Council” executive, has this split come about acros the Nation through specific provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 and/or other specific orders/legislation, or has it come about through processes that are specific to this City?

    Do individual elected councillors (Council) have any powers of individual discovery whatsoever vis a vis the organsiation (DCC) which they are apparently individually responsible for (without limitations of liabilty) if the CEO (who has no such responsibilty) does not wish it to be discovered? If this is so, it seems unreasonable/unenforcable and invites a Feltex-like situation where nobody actually carries any enforcable liability.

    Does this split also apply to DHB’s?

  27. Stu

    No inside knowledge.
    The info comes from the Local Governance Statement (http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/142472/Local-Governance-Statement.pdf) and my (lay) reading of the Local Government Act (2002). Sections 41 and 42 set out the definitions of what a Governing Body is and what their duties are with respect to the Chief Executive.

    This is a separation of powers, not a separation of organisations. But in my dealings with the DCC over the last few years I have noted that one needs to be careful with the term “the Council” – outsiders generally use it to refer to DCC as a whole, collective body, whereas DCC employees tend to associate the meaning with “the governance body”. And that can raise a few comprehension/scope issues.

    For the answers to your other questions, you would need a lawyer to review. Schedule 7 of the LGA sets out most of the duties/responsibilities, but some of what you are asking would be covered under voluntary code of conduct rather than provisions of the Act. Appendix 1 of http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/156664/DCC-Standing-orders-2009.pdf seems to have what you require.

  28. Richard

    Governance is governance.

    In local government, governance is somewhat different to that in the private sector and it is difficult at times to make the distinction given that a council will comprise a mix of people, some of whom have not had any previous governance experience.

    At times, this can lead to a blurring of responsibilities but, as in any organisation, it is the development of informal working relationships that, in the end, makes things ‘tick’.

    All councillors must be actively involved in planning long-term financial strategy – or indeed, any strategy at all. It is just not good enough, nor is it fair, to leave it to management and staff as was the case for much of the past decade.

    That was one of the reasons that I accepted former Mayor Peter Chin’s invitation to Chair the Finance and Strategy Committee of Council in the last triennium.

    I really had no option. I had been ‘complaining’ for several years that the elected arm of Council had not been involving itself in long-term strategic planning and thinking, work largely left to management and staff for much of the past decade under the Turner/McBey administration.

    The first step taken by me and my deputy and good friend Chris Staynes was getting timely and sound financial reporting to the committee. Then as a first step to bringing councillors back into planning financial strategy, we initiated a series of councillor workshops to dissect the process and to see how it might work better.

    On several occasions we were ‘warned’ that we would find our steps hindered along the way by senior staff and management.

    That did not happen. Indeed when I first mentioned what we were planning at an informal meeting of chairs with the Chief Executive sometime in 2008, the reaction from Jim Harland was “about ****** time”.

    We then went on to discuss the practicalities with Jim and senior staff, especially those involved in policy planning and responsible for the DAP process. We received every co-operation.

    From August 2009, members were involved for the first time in workshops with management to shape the Draft Annual Plan (including the budget) for the 2010-11 financial year instead of leaving it to staff to come up with what was called – until three years ago – “The Christmas Pack’, a document reflecting management and staff decisions and which councillors received in mid-December.

    The result was almost immediate. There was no “Christmas Pack” in December 2009. No surprises! In its place was a set of slimmed down and reasonably cohesive reports and related documents that reflected the joint work of elected members and staff throughout the preceding months.

    Elected members were no longer in the public position of seemingly just reacting to a document that council staff had put together, albeit reflecting existing council policies.

    The marathon ‘3-day auction’ that we had been subjected to in January over the past decade was replaced with a much more objective and focused meeting, one that reflected more considered and high-level planning. And which I believe, better informed the public.

    Now, all that might suggest that what some of you are saying here has been correct, eg “the tail wagging the dog” or the perception of “rubber-stamping”.

    That would be wrong. It was the process, the balance that was “out-of-kilter”.

    Suffice for me to say that I have been in local government long enough to know that elected members are, of course, very much aware of how a decision can “play out”.

    There is always a consciousness of the electorate.

    That is how it should be but, I believe that, in the past triennium, council took the first step to ensuring that “governance is governance” and establishing a better and more fruitful working relationship with management and staff.

    I fully expect the changes made over the past three years to continue under the new council.

  29. Russell Garbutt

    So, can we take it from this posting, that the “vision” of the new rugby stadium along with ALL of the financial implications of the decision to proceed was entirely “owned” by the past Chair of the Finance and Strategy Committee? Is Richard fully prepared to accept responsibility for the decision to proceed?

    Is Richard saying that he was fully appraised of ALL of the information surrounding the rationale to proceed including ALL financial information, projections and funding?

    Is he saying that the members of his committee were equally fully appraised of the above information?

    When Richard also says that “there is always a consciousness of the electorate”, then why did he choose to ignore the fact that a very clear majority of ratepayers did not want Council to pay for a new stadium?

    • Elizabeth

      Hogwash comes to mind. Sorry, Richard – if that’s been the Council process it leaves a lot to be desired in the execution. I’m immune to obituaries. The ‘independence’ of view is staggering but will not change a collective read of history.

  30. Robert Hamlin

    Thankyou Stu. I am informed but not comforted.

  31. Calvin Oaten

    Richard’s long explanation suggests that he had just about got things right. But he was tossed off the nest, and it seems the gestation period is either a lot longer than he thought or the eggs are infertile. Now that ‘Jimbo’ is moving on the opportunity arises for the new Mayor and council to seriously reconstruct the processes. Let’s hope the will is there to make the really hard calls required. They could do worse than start with Rob’s ‘open letter.’

  32. Richard

    Well I never expect anything positive from Russell or Calvin. So, no comment other than to observe that Calvin’s wee piece on the joys of blogging in this morning’s ODT and his claim to having ‘a sense of humour’ is really a big laugh. Almost bigger than the one in his recent ODT ‘oibituary’ about influencing council not to build a hotel. Really? That would make a good ‘Tui’ advert!

    As for the ‘hogwash’ EJ, well so be it it. I have simply recorded – and not for the first time – that the change in the DAP process started two years or so ago and that I expect it to continue. The new Mayor and his deputy – who was very much part of making the change. The same change in approach and in consulation has also ‘spilled over’ into the “Your City, Our Future”. You seem to be supportive of that. So make up your mind. And I am entitled to my opinion as a citizen and ratepayer just as you are.

  33. Calvin Oaten

    Richard, I am so glad you see my sense of humour as a really big laugh. Makes my day actually. Particularly, as you never expect anything positive, a laugh will do instead. Strangely enough I find you remarkably humorous.

  34. Russell Garbutt

    Yes Richard, perfectly entitled to your opinions. Not sure how many people are in accord with them. Not enough it seems.

  35. Russell Garbutt

    Oh yes Richard – studiously evading any form of response or responsibility for your past decisions while flat out attempting to re-write history. What a shame you won’t address them, but maybe they will still come home to roost.

  36. Richard

    Well, this WAS a reasonable sort of discussion. I just thought that inserting a comment recording that change from within was happening over recent times provided a wee bit of positive balance.

    I anticipated the responses from you and Calvin. You just have too many personal ‘axes’ to grind as evidenced by Calvin’s derogatory references to Jim Harland using a nickname ‘bestowed’ by a previous one-term councillor who, mistakenly thought Calvin was some sort of mentor.

    • Elizabeth

      Richard, did you say something? Afraid I’m in France with Jamie just now, preoccupied with farmers markets and culinary pleasures.

  37. Russell Garbutt

    Harland’s internal Council nickname is much more revealing.

  38. JimmyJones

    Get a grip Russell (re posts- 8:03pm, 5:47pm, 10:57am). Your Richard and the Stadium questions are off topic, and anyway there are more valid questions to be asking. Also, I suggest you and Calvin start a new thread for general abuse; that way you can practice your humour and talk about your personal relationship problems involving Richard, and the rest of us won’t have to read it.

  39. JimmyJones

    Thanks Elizabeth. I think there will be a lot to blog about this year. I know that Jim Harland hates bloggers. I am sure that his various Stadium campaigns would have been more successful without this blog-site to shine the light of truth into his dark places. Jim’s stadium campaigns include: “it’s only $66 per year per ratepayer”, “the multi-purpose venue, not a rugby stadium”, and more recently “let’s talk about DVML, and pretend DVL doesn’t exist”. He seems to me like the Energizer bunny when it comes to his Stadium, for everything else he’s like a flat battery.

  40. Phil

    Funny you should mention bunnies. That is in the theme of one of Jim’s more endearing inhouse nicknames. Something to do with the uncanny resemblance to a startled rabbit caught in the headlights. Or some such thing.

  41. Russell Garbutt

    Harland made the mistake of recording that it was important that the new stadium was perceived to be multipurpose. I seem to recall that it was in a report or minutes at the time.

    The nickname I’m referring to has a lot to do with his not being seen for long periods of time and then appearing and causing a lot of damage and destruction. It’s quite a clever one.

  42. JimmyJones

    Russell, you must be thinking of this censored/”blacked-out” part of the 2007 HHTL Consultants report (some people won’t have seen this):

    Commercial-In-Confidence: Carisbrook Stadium Trust
    Financial Feasibility Study, February 2007 [Page 23]

    Preliminary consultation with the Mayor and CEO of Dunedin City Council indicated that, if funding is not an issue, they personally support the Trust’s vision for a new Stadium in Dunedin. However, they both noted that there is uncertainty, at this stage in the process, as Dunedin City Council has a significant number of projects before it and will need to review it’s [sic] priorities before committing funding for the stadium.

    The CEO of Dunedin City Council emphasised that to maximise the Council’s contribution it will be important that:

    1. The Stadium is perceived at a community level to be multi-purpose and cater for more than rugby

    2. The University is a partner in the development to demonstrate the community-wide benefits of the project

    3. The Stadium is governed by an independent Trust with Trustees potentially appointed by an Electoral College.

    A key interest of the Otago Regional Council is that the Stadium can be demonstrated to have regional level benefits, rather than simply Dunedin City benefits.

    Arrow International’s pre-feasibility report of November 2006 assumed Dunedin City Council would contribute $65 million. This assumption has been retained pending further progression of the political process.

    Similarly, Arrow International’s pre-feasibility report’s assumption of a $30 million contribution from the Otago Regional Council has been retained pending further progression of the political process.

    [End of quote]

    Discussion: It is clear to me that Jim Harland had come to that discussion well prepared with a marketing/lobbying plan specially targeted at gaining support from the ORC and Otago Uni. Gaining this support was a way to “maximise the Council’s contribution”. By this he means that our hapless DCC councillors will be more easilly persuaded if they can be shown that the project has wider support.

    From this we can see that:
    – DCC and ORC Councilors were being secretly manipulated by a small group including Harland and Chin.
    – DCC staff had co-operated/conspired with their CEO to produce this lobbying plan.
    – The “multipurpose” aspect of the stadium is a creation of the DCC’s Marketing people.
    – Councillors were kept well away from some important decisions and information (and perhaps they still are).
    – We all need to be very careful with “informal working relationships “.

    I doubt that many councillors were aware of these things at the time. They all, however, had the chance to read this 2007 report, but in voting to proceed with the stadium, either they didn’t read/understand it or else they don’t mind being treated like fools. And anyway it’s only other people’s money, not their own.

  43. Russell Garbutt

    JimmyJones, you are correct.

    The blacked out portions of the report were easily restored by a number of people and they showed, I believe, quite clearly, that this was an “orchestrated litany” of PR hype and BS in order to get the project past a group of Councillors who, as you say, either didn’t understand or care. I still believe that some people may indeed by culpable for the lack of management or governance diligence in causing the project to proceed.

    Harland showed in the report that he was actually causing something to happen that he was an integral part of, and which had not been caused to happen by the policy makers. He had become by now the de facto policy setter.

    That is why, amongst other things, I believe that Councillors who were in a crucial position – including Richard Walls – failed to act in accordance with sound governance practice. Not one of them really had the gumption or courage to tell Harland that they were not going to sanction dealing in “perceptions”. It was shoved through despite every “line in the sand” being crossed and despite conditions on proceeding being routinely broken.

  44. peter

    Ahh… yes the blacked out appendices. I remember the delight in uncovering them after a tip off from a guy at the university that they hadn’t done the usual precautionary measures to secure them on the website. Bev was up till the early hours transcribing them onto a separate file. The perception thing, as stated, was a deliberate deception to hoodwink the public and some of the more ignorant councillors about its alleged multi purpose – not that they minded in the end because they continued to vote in a bloc for the stadium. I don’t include Richard as being ignorant, as by his own admission as Finance and Strategy chairman, he was at the forefront of ramming the stadium through hell or high water. This will leave an indelible stain on the integrity of those who have perpetrated this sorry scandal.

  45. JimmyJones

    Russell, I agree with that. I think though that the “A-Team” – Harland, Chin, Martin & others – were the ones pushing the deception and therefore deserving of most of the blame. There is no doubt that our DCC/ORC councillors are responsible for the worst decision-making ever inflicted on Dunedin.
    They deserve to be called hapless fools, but I recognise that at the time they had great trust in the information from Jim Harland and his staff. Some of them (the A-Team) knew it was all lies, but most were completely deluded. I think some did the best they could to find out the truth; two that I know made an effort were Neil Collins and Mike Guest (yes even him).
    The lies that I am talking about are to do with the total capital cost including all associated costs, the size of the alleged economic benefit and the eternal annual funding costs. I think Dunedin would have been saved from the manipulations of the A-Team if our councillors had better financial skills and more trust in the good people of Dunedin to know when they are being lied to. Their disregard of the will of the people was a total disgrace.
    By-the-way, we are still being lied to about the total cost, annual funding cost and economic benefit (the three lies). Now we have a new council, but nothing seems to have changed. Did Dave Cull really say he was going to open the books? Now would be good.

  46. Russell Garbutt

    Let us not forget that the whole project has its genesis in the unelected coming together at the behest of the ORFU to figure out who was going to bail them out.

    The ORFU knew they were in the deepest financial mire and their then CDO, and the CEOs of who were targeted as funders were all bought together to work out the strategy of springing the money. Put Harland in the mix and all of a sudden the DCC was a major funder, put the ORC in the mix and they were a funder, put the CTO in the mix and they were a funder.

    All that needed to be then done was to package it up and poke it through the useless or complicit governance people who “trusted” the reports from the respective CEOs, and bingo!

    As for Mike Guest and Neil Collins – could either of these be described as being financially savvy? I would say not, but there was nothing to prevent either – or any – taking independent financial advice. But of course it’s easier to sit back and let those with “business skills” to make the decisions, to put up baffling scenarios and generally to spin the BS.

    As for the ORC – I went to the meeting when the decision to proceed was taken and the one Councillor that stood out for me was Michael Deaker. A speech that was not only filled with passion (something associated with belief), but with common sense and pragmatism. Most of the rest of them just went along with Cairns and his agenda.

    This has been a shameful and disgraceful chapter of Dunedin history and it is still to be hoped that those really responsible will one day have to face up to their complicity.

    As to those that say “well the decision has been made and there are no other solutions” – I say rubbish. There are other solutions and I hope that this new Council will have the courage to at least spell out ALL of the possible future scenarios and come to a logical and open solution that everyone can buy into. But it will require a great deal more transparency and honesty than we have seen from the Tartan Mafia.

    • Elizabeth

      Russell, Tartan Mafia is quite a wide brush, even in a town this size. Certainly a number of those guys who qualify (or at various times) as TM are never going to support the stadium, because they know it’s an outrageous piece of bad business. Some prefer to keep to what they know in terms of successful investment and will always steer clear of council-based politics to retain their sanity, independence and market share.

  47. Calvin Oaten

    Interesting day. Pity, but this has all been known for a long time. Problem has been the deliberate obscuring by the proponents, trading on the knowledge that they only had to keep hoodwinking the elected council. Not in itself a difficult job. {Deleted sentence – Sorry Calvin I will not have people using this blog once again to make statements which are potentially defamatory, with the blog owner the one who will take any legal challenges – Paul} None more so than with the case presented to the court in defence of Stop the Stadium’s challenge. Statements were made there as fact when time has shown them to be untrue. However, the Judge bought them and ruled accordingly so that was that. Practically every step of the way has been misleading, from the first budgets, to the land purchases, to the promised 30,000 seats to the subtle increments in costs, to the private funding, to the council undertaking to reduce its original $94 odd million by $20 million as a line in the sand. The ‘A’ team have, in ignorance, or design aided and abetted the wishes of Chin and Harland all along. I remember the body language of those two at the 2004 meeting when the MWH commissioned report was published. At that time it was Carisbrook which was to be saved. I said to my friend then, those two are going to stitch the ratepayers into saving the ORFU. How it got to be a brand new $200 million stand alone stadium I have never understood. A Farry/Tartan Mafia vision I suspect.

    {May I add, that unless you wish to see this blog shut down etc, could we all please refrain from making so called statements of fact which are potentially defamatory. This is no way Elizabeth or I are capable of editing and reviewing every single comment which goes on this site immediately, so restraint on the keyboards is gratefully appreciated. – Paul}

  48. Russell Garbutt

    I think that Tartan Mafia was the term used by Chris Laidlaw in his rather good interview on National Radio with Malcolm Farry to best describe the business community’s support or otherwise of the stadium. I’ve also heard the term Cedar Mafia used in roughly the same context. I still have a copy of that interview and it is wonderful to go back and listen to the bluster and rubbish proffered by Farry at the time.

    I suspect that the terms are used to describe the often shadowy influence that goes on behind the scenes – don’t bother putting in a submission, just send Jim an email sort of thing.

    However, I think Elizabeth that you are right in that many solid businessmen around town that have some sort of influence don’t support the stadium decision, but our beloved almost past DCC CEO Harland was mixing with a slightly different grouping that were all centred on the fortunes of the ORFU. Hard to understand why some of the prominent people however went along with the charade…

  49. Richard

    Atwooll: “I don’t include Richard as being ignorant, as by his own admission as Finance and Strategy chairman, he was at the forefront of ramming the stadium through hell or high water.”

    Verify or apologise!

  50. Richard

    And what about dishonest opinion i.e. something that is not true represented as fact?

  51. Elizabeth

    Unfortunately, either can be uncomfortable.

  52. Phil

    Fair comment, in my opinion (note the use of the word to differentiate from fact). You might suspect it, Peter, you might believe it, you might have it tattooed on your rear end. But unless you can support the statement, you don’t know. If one is going to attempt to portray an opinion as a statement of fact, one shouldn’t be surprised if it invokes a a harsh response. A comment typed in haste, I would suggest.

  53. Anne

    How can it be that a mere handful or two of articulate, clear-thinking people (OK, I am saying I am one of those, too :)) on this blog all sing from the same hymn sheet when the rest of the world seems to call us every name under the sun from nay-sayers to pessimists who never have anything good to say about Dunedin? The stories told here over the last few days does go over old ground but why were and are so many ratepayers oblivious to these facts?

    I remember anxiously phoning the DCC the Friday morning when we were to have the news about the (in)famous DCC survey. Staff were just in the middle of being presented with the “interpretation” of the results by the Christchurch company with the job of doing this “research.” I was handed over to Rodney Bryant, chief DCC spin doctor, who said, “It’s a dead duck in the water.” Obviously, it wasn’t for long because soon the “facts” were reinterpreted to mean that a majority, albeit small, of ratepayers were definitely in favour of a new stadium funded largely by their rates.

    Oh, the many steps along that road of much spilt blood.

  54. peter

    Richard ( more polite)
    You were either in control in your pivotal role as Chairman of F and S, to ram the stadium through this whole sorry process, or you were not. I have never seen you, as a former senior councillor and Mayor, in the role of being a puppet to someone else’s agenda. You have always been at the forefront of local body politics – till recently. You clearly have your own mind – opinions, facts, ‘own facts’ – as evidenced on this site. Once you were convinced of the stadium’s ‘worth’ you were a devotee to the cause and voted consistently for it. You have consistently been one of the key bovver boys against those who opposed the stadium and sought to put them down wherever possible. An old style politician in the Muldoon mould. Hence my comment.
    (BTW, two t’s in Attwooll)

  55. JimmyJones

    Good morning peter, accusing Richard of being a stadium supporter is a bit like accusing Muldoon of being dead. And if you told me that I vigorously and consistently fought for what I believed in, then I would take that as a compliment.

    Also, are you complaining that the stadium opposers, like me and you, received put-downs as part of our endeavours. In this war of words perhaps you might need some body-armour.

    Anyway, seasons greetings to you and your family.

  56. Russell Garbutt

    There is no doubt that there is a culture amongst some Councillors – past and present – that once they have identified someone as being opposed to a project they are supporting, become very personal. Richard Walls, Neil Collins, Michael Guest, Syd Brown all fit into that category. Their responses – either directly or indirectly – are designed to provoke, belittle and besmirch. Little wonder that some, at some point, retaliate in a similar way.

    But there is no doubt that Richard Walls’ voting record on the stadium, and his many recorded statements here and elsewhere, show him as being a pivotal person in ensuring that the project proceeded. That statement I suggest is a fact and really can’t be interpreted in any other way. I would also suggest that in his particular past Council role as Chair of F and S, he had more than a normal responsibility to ensure that the decisions made in his committee were based on factual and correct information and not “perceptions” or unsupportable projections. He also had a special responsibility to ensure that any conditions set by his committee or adopted by Council on recommendations from his committee were adhered to. It is also a fact that cannot be disputed that many of the conditions to proceed were simply not adhered to or met.

    That either shows in my mind a determination to “ram something through” or to act in a way that did not meet acceptable governance responsibility. It is of note that Richard doesn’t seem to want to address these particular points of view that have been made by many people over an extended period of time.

  57. peter

    Seasons Greetings to you too, Jimmy. I don’t mind people fighting for what they believe in (of course), but I prefer a clean fight where both sides don’t deliberately obfuscate and lie in order to win. What has amazed me is the lack of intellectual vigour by the pro stadium side. They go for slogans like ‘Build It and they will come.’ etc. Also when you look at the FB website it seems to be just witless hoons cheerleading for the stadium with any serious questions put up for the administrators to answer either being ignored or descending into abuse.

    • Elizabeth

      Perhaps to note, Richard. I can’t resist.
      No need to use Caps (upper case) in the subject line of your emails. Most people have no difficulty decerning priority of email messages according to the sender’s name and content of the subject line. No accentuation is necessary. ODT have also commented (to me) on this your propensity for Caps – we’re hoping the penny drops.

      Long live the hall monitor, I say.

  58. Richard

    E J: I do not know why the ODT would make such a comment. I seldom use CAPS at all, given there are other ways of highlighting in emails etc but not, of course, on WordPress. In the instance you refer to it was for a very obvious reason.

    {Of the 262 emails I have remaining on file from you (thanks!) just under half feature full Caps in the subject line. – Elizabeth}

    {One further email, in full CAPS, received at 2.06pm. Is there a pattern here. When should a blog become an email? What is email etiquette. – Elizabeth}

  59. Richard

    Peter: Weasel words. You attributed a comment to me which you cannot verify simply because it is not true. I guess that makes you one of those who take photographs of things that are not happening.

  60. JimmyJones

    Yes, peter; witless hoons, lies and obfuscation are what we have to deal with. No-one said it would be easy.

    There is still a lot more to do, because it seems like nothing has yet been learned from this sad story. Have you seen the Stadium Calendar – January features a picture of Malcolm Farry. Of course the cost will be quite small compared to underwriting Elton John. DVML was expected to cost the city $2.5 million/year (DCC forecast) to pay their staff and promote the stadium; it looks to me like they are intending to spend a lot more than that. The official forecast for DVL is a lot harder to discover. Jim Harland doesn’t want you to know. Nor does the ODT.

  61. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy, by the time the chickens come home to roost – after the world cup and the Elton John concert – we will start to see the unravelling of the true story of the stadium. Then it will take more than a few CAPS for Richard and his ilk to explain themselves. It may well take a year or two, but the truth will come out. A new, untainted CEO would be a good start.

  62. Richard

    EJ – About 70% of emails I receive have the subject line in CAPS. I guess that reflects Best Business Practice.

    • Elizabeth

      Now that, Richard, is the most wondrous statement in the whole of Ireland. And I note you have fallen over it.

      {We note the percentage of men who use diminuitives or play on bloggers names without permission of the blogger they are addressing. I think a duel at dawn, or a good flogging. – Elizabeth}

  63. JimmyJones

    Calvin, the chickens might come home to roost sooner than that, if some of us here work hard. The inaugural draft Statement Of Intent for DVL is being prepared now. Unofficial estimates of DVL’s operating loss range between $10 million and $20 million per year. Non CCO debt servicing is extra. Be sure to see the final draft or even the pre-draft figures.
    The A-Team (Harland etc) have known for years that the Financial Black-hole Stadium will make a huge yearly loss, but I think that many of the others will be shocked to discover the extent that they have been deceived. One reason our councillors won’t discuss the stadium yearly funding could be because they have been given some relevant information in confidence (but not necessarily accurate). A good way to keep them quiet, perhaps.
    I think that they are all to blame, but the deceivers deserve a lot more blame than those that were deceived.

  64. Russell Garbutt

    Someone once told me that Upper Case in an email message or subject line was the equivalent of shouting. I remembered that. Sounds like Richard gets about 70% of the people that send him emails shouting at him – about right I would have thought.

    But hey, lets not get distracted and let Richard come back and respond to the earlier more substantive facts about his support for the stadium project and the professional governance rationale he used to determine his actions. He could even use a whole pile of unnecesssary quotation marks as well.

  65. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy, thanks for that. It was never ‘rocket science’ for elected councillors to work out that the stadium could only ever be a financial black hole. The supporting numbers (population) and events frequencies (rugby restricted to ‘B’ tests) and intervals between visits from Dalai Lama and Pope would bring to any thinking person that realisation. That suggests that the councillors were either non thinkers or plain lazy. Take your pick.

  66. Russell Garbutt

    The suggestion from Jimmy Jones is that some information through papers or reports may already have been supplied to Councillors but is to be treated as confidential.

    These papers are known as “grey papers” and the number and amount of grey papers in the last Council was very significant.

    What interests me are:

    1 Who decides what is termed a grey paper?
    2 If a paper to Council comes from Harland (or a delegated person from Harland) with a recommendation that it is grey and therefore confidential to Harland and the Councillors, then how many times has the Council agreed with the recommendation? Have Councillors ever gone against a CEO recommendation to keep a report or paper confidential?
    3 Has a paper or report ever come to Councillors on the proviso that the Councillors cannot decide to release that paper or report to the public? In other words has the CEO already determined that the paper or report is grey?
    4 Has any Councillor ever tested the decision to make any report or paper as grey?
    5 What is the legal basis for declaring any information as “grey” in any case?
    6 Who determines the scope of material that will be considered “grey”? In other words has confidentiality been used to protect poor governance or management decision making in the past?

  67. Richard

    A wee message for Russell, Calvin and Peter. It has been mentioned to me (in CAPS) that your obsession with me is quite unhealthy. I tend to agree recalling Dabvid Lange’s fine mention on a footnote to a person writing to him “That (this person) should go see a psychatrist”. I seriously commend David’s advice to you.

    • Elizabeth

      As noted many times across the history of this blog, we struggle to stay on topic – humour or slanging oft lead us astray.

      Richard, count yourself as a problem shared. Along with all other problems.
      It’s “David” Lange by the way. Oh, “psychiatrist”.

  68. Russell Garbutt

    I really don’t mind about the cheap nonsense – it’s the lack of answers that are interesting. I dare say the myriad of watchers are taking note of that.

    So, would the (as Spike Milligan once said) well-known spelling mistake care to address any of the issues that he presumably knows something about? Presumably it comes down to can’t or won’t.

  69. Richard

    Well, deliberate! Just to encorage Russell a chance to exercise his penchant for sarcasm. And I remind you that – as JJ noted some many posts ago – it is Russell, Calvin and Peter who hijack this and every other thread to play their worn-out chants about the stadium. None have a single redeeming defect.

    {This comment has been moderated. Unacceptable. -Eds}

  70. Richard

    As for “addressing the issues” and giving answers. Well, as ane elected member of the DCC and Chair of Finance and Strategy, I went down that path a long, long time ago in anticipation of reasoned discussion. {Elizabeth Kerr} acknolwdged that in one of her posts. I steered clear of personal opinion so as not to confuse my position.

    I did not expect ‘agreement’.

    Instead of reasoned debate, the demands and rant from Russell and Calvin grew.

    Well, I have a wee message for you. I have stood up to bullies since they tried ‘standing over me’ at school . I am not going to stop now especially as I can say what I personally think without having to take into account anything else.

    And I know precisely where to start, Russell.

    So guys, just think twice next time you see a belt and think about hitting below it.

  71. Russell Garbutt

    “None have a single redeeming defect”. Excellent.

  72. Richard

    Oh dear Russell, you do not understand (or recognise) this (slight adaptation) of Disraeli’s put down of WE Gladstone. In this instance it refers to your arguments! Now that proves something!

    Anyway go think about it. For the next few days, my attention will be on the cricket test. A professional game these days. As a great deal of top sport is. But your myopic attention is, of course, on ‘rugby players’ to the exclusion of all else.

    • Elizabeth

      Richard, we would thank you to not breach or attempt to breach an individual’s privacy through a lack of diligence on your part when submitting comments to What if?. If you want to make these kinds of statements kindly do so at your own website, not here. There are a plethora of topics available at What if? for you to comment on. – Elizabeth

  73. Calvin Oaten

    It must be the sun. Some people – or one person in particular – seem to have become exceedingly thin skinned. Perhaps he shouldn’t go to the cricket.
    To be be told I have an obsession which is unhealthy is upsetting. Perhaps I should go and see a podiatrist. Might stop me putting my foot in Richard’s mouth.

  74. fergal

    Peter, I’m a witless hoon without any intellectual vigor…and you’re absolutely right about the slogans … I mean ‘Stop the Stadium’, as a slogan, is much more intellectual. Must’ve taken hours/days of intellectual vigor to come up with that one!
    And as for the ‘serious questions’ on the FB site – the guy that posts most of the anti stuff on there can’t spell let alone string a proper sentence together, but he keeps us entertained. The ‘serious questioning’ you mention is simply the repeated whingings of a person that didn’t get what he wanted , and they’ve been answered numerous times before and personal invitations to discuss with FBS made and never taken up. He simply sets himself up…
    A Cheerleader

  75. Anne

    Fergal’s views typifies the ratepayer with no real interest in the running of the city and the processes of decision making, even when decisions impact heavily on ratepayers and have severe implications for the future. Lack of citizenship education in schools, I say! This leads to uninformed views such as “whingings of a person that didn’t get what he wanted”. Unfortunately, this is all we can expect from some citizens.

    Discussing issues with FBS (FuBar Stadium?) is hardly going to provide any answers as that group had no power of decision-making, but only provided advocacy for the stadium to the hapless council(s).

  76. fergal

    Nice try Anne, but you’ve missed the point…what is the point of anyone replying to ‘repeated’ questions that have been answered many many times before.
    If I had no interest in the running of the city, I wouldn’t read this site…I read this site becasue I’m interested in what the anti-stadium view is, and take particular interest in some of the discussions…some of it’s well thought out and considered/balanced, and some of it’s utter toss.
    I’m very aware of the ratepayer impact, I know anti-stadium people and I hear their concerns and agree with some of their views…my opionion is different and I can’t wait for it to be completed…that doesn’t mean I have no interest in the running of the city/decision making process. In actual fact, I’ve been stung quite heavily by what I would consider poor decision making process by regional/city council in the past…but we paid the legal bill, and moved on (literally).

  77. Anne

    “Anti-stadium” is another expression that misses the point. Completely. However, I do agree, that repeated questions are tiresome. I am not so interested in those. I am interested in the actual history of this sorry saga being told truthfully, which may not yet be possible. This thread is about Jim Harland and with his departure, it seems we are on the way to publicly acknowledge his contribution to the stadium happening.

    Fergal, I think this statement comes close to being an oxymoron, “I can’t wait for it to be completed…that doesn’t mean I have no interest in the running of the city/decision making process”.

  78. peter

    Sorry that you count yourself as a witless hoon. At least your written expression is very good!
    The ‘Stop the Stadium’ name I would have thought is apt for the purpose of the organisation at the time, and to the point. Sounds better than ‘Cessation of the Sports Facility’.
    The ‘we have already answered that question’ line is very transparent. I notice the pro stadium people use it a lot. It begs the question why someone would continually ask the same question if they felt it had already been adequately answered.
    The other common line is ‘we have moved on from……’ Thereby avoiding something uncomfortable – like the peer reviews.
    I think the person who doesn’t want to come in for a little chat does so for a very good reason. He/she wants the answers to be public and not be fudged behind closed doors with brush offs.
    I hope I have been helpful.

  79. Russell Garbutt

    Fergal is a stadium supporter and so his arguments come with that stance behind them. No issue with that, it just needs to be acknowledged.

    What should never be accepted however are sweeping statements made by some proponents such as “it will set the City humming”, “it will be the best thing ever to happen” and the like.

    I for one, can never accept those sort of statements unless there are demonstrable public facts to back them up. I met the then CEO of the CST at one point to try and clarify some of the financial rationale behind private funding and operational costs and frankly I came away completely convinced that what was being proposed was totally unrealistic. During our meeting the number of Super 14/15 games was reduced, and it was clear that money currently being labelled private construction funding was not that at all. MikeStk has, here and elsewhere explained this a whole lot better than I can do in a brief posting.

    I was, I assure you, prepared to accept logical and clear rationale at my meeting, but in my assessment it was not provided. I can say that I also met Malcolm Farry at a very early stage and what concerned me most at that time when I raised my concern that the ORFU could not afford to operate in any new stadium was his assurance that “the ORFU debt to the Council would be wiped”. History tells us that this happened through a convoluted way by the DCC purchase of Carisbrook at a price that not only wiped the DCC debt but also the BNZ debt. A lot of people saw through that particular sequence of events.

    This thread however is, as someone said, about Jim Harland and the connection is that he is a very highly paid employee of the Council whose role, amongst other things, is to ensure that policy is carried out. It has been apparent from day one on a number of projects that he has actually been determining policy and that leads inevitably to the question of why that was able to be. The answer to that appears to be either an inability of past Councillors to understand what was being proposed, or an unwillingness to want to understand. That leads to the tail wagging the dog which has been, at least in part, acknowledged by Richard Walls.

    Building a stadia, knowing that costs inevitably escalate, and knowing the past history of other stadia where either costs have gone through the roof or what has been delivered is an inferior product or a product that delivers less to what was “sold” in a few glossy brochures or an animated “fly through”, is a very serious business. And the decisions taken round it need to be quality ones. The fact that those that have participated in that process are unwilling to provide in an open way the material that led to those decisions is a very good guide to how we should view the decisions.

  80. Phil

    Fergal, a couple of other forum websites, and the few others who pop in from time to time have completely misunderstood the opinion of the majority of regular posters here. At the risk of banging my head against the wall (again) I’m going to repeat (again) that most of us are NOT “Anti Stadium”. I’m one of the group you’ve chosen to throw a collective blanket over and I can tell you that I have no problems whatsoever with the stadium design and construction. Never have had. I think it’s innovative, well designed, reasonably pleasing to the eye considering the size of it, and should suit the needs of an average domestic football team. That’s not the issue.

    What is the issue for me, and the majority of posters here, is the level of public debt being incurred for a venture which is not a core busines activity of the DCC, and is not an essential service. I don’t believe that it is appropriate for our local authorities to be involved at the level of financial risk that they have chosen. Not at a time when the region is not cash rich, and not when there are numerous core business activities still waiting to be addressed. The lack of transparency by Council over the project suggests that they agree largely with us also. I say this because other issues, not related to the stadium, have a greater level of transparency. If you worried about conspiracy theories. That’s where my issue is. Not the stadium, but the inappropriate use of public funds for the stadium.

    Spot the ever so subtle difference ?

  81. Russell Garbutt

    Phil, not sure that I’ve ever responded to you, but you have summed up a lot of the issues very well.

    One thing I’d disagree with and that is the design.

    I was travelling along Portsmouth Drive today and looked across and saw the thing. To my mind those curved coat-hangers are both ugly and obtrusive. I glimpsed the view with the molars in the foreground and the coat-hangers in the background and thought that the people that put together structures like the Town Hall, the Railway Station, the Courts, OBHS, the ISB at the Uni, would be rolling in their graves. In my view – a subjective one – the design has nothing to do with the surrounding landscape, the environment, but everything to do with expediency.

    However, your comments on public expenditure are spot on and need to be answered by those that took the decision to proceed. I am not holding my breath, but rest assured they will be one day held to account one way or another.

  82. Richard


    I am surprised that you would think for a moment that you would read into any post I have made that I would “breach or attempt to breach an individual’s privacy”.

    You certainly have my assurance that, despite the statements accusing me of being ‘dishonest’ and of ‘lying’, and one other very distasteful and personal reference posted by ‘Calvin’ and ‘Russell’ back in October that I will not revisit, there will be nothing I post that is other than fair comment.

    My record in my public and my personal life is testament to that.

    And, in any case, like some I would not post comments that would result in the site owner and/or editor being held liable.

    While we may have differences of opinion on the issue, I thank ‘JJ’ and ‘Phil’ for their supportive comments in regard to the quite untrue comment posted by Peter.

    My position on the Forsyth Barr Stadium and how I came to support it is actually on my webpage.

    It was first written as a paper prior to the election in 2007 and subsequently updated. So it is a matter of public record no matter how anyone else chooses to represent my position. And, it can be supported by correspondence, emails and meeting notes and ‘blogs’.

    These are all part of my files. If I decide to publish them (and my own website is the obvious choice), then the content is likely to cover “what went down” in a wider sense and record the words of those who uttered them, for and against.


    {This comment has been moderated. Elizabeth (Kerr) is one of two site co-authors, and comments under the name Elizabeth. -Eds}

  83. Calvin Oaten

    I am heartened by Phil’s comments re the pros and cons of the stadium. He’s right that most fair minded people are at least ambivalent about it. Whether it will ever meet the dreams and aspirations of its advocates will be seen in the fullness of time. For myself, I am impressed by the technology employed, but like Russell aghast at the design. However, the prime issue for me is the imperious ‘highjacking’ of the publics’ treasure to indulge the grand wishes of so few. There was never, in my recollection, any public clamouring about the suitability of Carisbrook as a top venue. This all seemed to come from the fact that the ORFU was in extreme financial difficulty and unable to keep up with the ridiculous demands of the professional model of rugby. Wayne Graham acknowledged that fact just this last week. The problem was further exacerbated by the NZRU laying down the law over what standards they required for A test venues. No consideration of the pressure this put on the ORFU. A report was commissioned by the ORFU from MWH consultants who pointed out the facts of the situation. Along came Harland and Chin who decided it was the duty of the DCC to come to the rescue. Why, is the big question. It would have been bad enough if we ratepayers were hooked into saving Carisbrook for what was essentially a very badly run commercial operation. But to then hi-jack the whole process and present a new stand alone $200m roofed stadium without so much as a public referendum was, to me, a step too far. High handed action by an out of touch arrogant mayor and council prompted by a relatively small section of vested interested people. In a word, awful! For me, it has nothing to do with rugby, sport or amenities of any sort. It is all to do with arrogant selfishness.

  84. Russell Garbutt

    Actually, what has just struck me is the header image on this site.

    The “coathanger” trusses are hardly visible in this image whereas the over-riding feature of the stadium seen from virtually anywhere round Dunedin are those trusses. They may be an integral part of the structure, but they certainly are not attractive.

    • Elizabeth

      As I’ve said somewhere on other threads, the whole design appears foreshortened when viewed in the landscape context – this came up at the hearing for the stadium plan change, prior to the final design being established, and it’s still relevant as a design issue. The incline of the quarry site alongside does little to assist or mitigate, strangely or not since it’s a ‘plonk object’. A contextual (plug-in landscape) model would have been useful early on… as other cities have been utilising to publicly assess development proposals. Damien Van Brandenburg has brought ‘modelling’ strongly to the attention of our Built Environment leadership group in the last year based on his current overseas travel and architecture work. Thankfully the need for physical 3D modelling is gaining traction – too late for the stadium though. The plan drawings for the stadium throughout the conceptual process, not including the graphic artist renderings, were never really very convincing to me. Paul was onto it early too, thus his idea to create What if? I don’t hate the stadium building – up close I accept it’s easier on my eye, I’m a sucker for steel frame construction at scale.

  85. Russell Garbutt

    The actual plans were never really out there for public scrutiny were they? The number of iterations is unclear to me, but at the “launch” at the Casino the concept was a rugby ball which reflected the actual purpose of the thing. Not sure how many other concepts appeared at various stages, but I guess the actual plans needed to be kept away until the last possible stage as it was clear that, for example, the seating capacity was nothing like what was “sold” as the original concept.

    Steel construction per se is not necessarily ugly, but what in my view makes this thing unattractive is the dual curvature of the roof lines. The coathanger trusses just don’t tie in visually to what is underneath. The Trafalger Centre at Nelson uses immense laminated wooden beams and this Centre has a very large number of courts and a very impressive floor area. The beams are internal and are very attractive…

    Anyway, probably Harland had little to do with the design – he just was instrumental in making the ratepayers pay for it.

    • Elizabeth

      I received a set of A1 plans as part of an associated scoping project which went undisclosed at the time (2009) – so no Russell, that lot not available to the public. Of course, wasn’t a full set but it gave the general picture. There’s probably more detail available via the stadium supporters website, and SkyscraperCity website (care of the excellent efforts of UglyBob and crew – see links Paul has provided here) – definitely worth scouting through. :)

  86. UglyBob

    It won’t come in the shock/horror category but after a period of long ambivalence I actually quite like the design; it looks better to me in real life than did the scale model and renders. One aspect I like is that the stadium looks quite different from various vantage points/angles around the city. The arch trusses don’t bother me in the slightest.

  87. I have heard the Stadium referred to as the Toast Rack: it is easy to see why.

  88. UglyBob

    6 plans for the revised design were made available belatedly by CST at its website:

  89. Phil

    The “rugby ball” shape, which was obviously a lot cleaner in profile than the final design, was at the time when the trusses were to be beneath the roof cladding, and not outside as they are today. As most of the high profile press releases were released at that time, that’s the image that most of the public outside of Dunedin have. The trusses don’t bother me too much, they are what they are. I’m not a big fan of the oddly shaped 30m high wall, but options are limited there. It will weather in time, which will soften the impact. Thanks for the link to the drawings. There’s been a few minor changes since then, but I assume that they are the Building Consent set. I still wonder if anyone can tell me if there is any provision for roof access over the playing surface. I can see there is a catwalk running along the North and South stands, but it’s unclear if there is any way to access the roof itself for repairs, cleaning, inspections, maintenance, etc. I would have thought there would have been something built into the trusses themselves. Maybe there is, it’s just not obvious to me.

    • Elizabeth

      There aren’t many who would bother to enter search terms for two particular contributors at What if? All searches are monitored.

  90. Anonymous

    It would be unfair at this point to refer to it as “Assange Stadium”

  91. Kiwifly

    Elizabeth –
    There aren’t many who would bother to enter search terms for two particular contributors at What if? All searches are monitored.


  92. Phil

    Touched a nerve.

  93. There are two matters that need discussion and were brought to the attention of the High Court but were conveniently left out of the judgement but now it is timely to re-address these matters.

    Firstly, the Otago Regional Council funding is an unsecured donation to the Dunedin City Council and is therefore a donation by individual ratepayers specifically towards payment for the Stadium.

    The charitable donation is therefore tax deductible and each ratepayer should be forwarded a receipt to enable them to claim as a tax deduction.

    However after the matter was addressed in supplementary evidence in the High Court case it now is interesting that Cr Butcher has praised his staff for looking into the quite substantial tax savings that the Regional Council can take advantage of.

    How generous of the ratepayers!! {Sentence deleted for the avoidance of action against the owner of What if? -Eds} NB there is considerable case law in regard to spending taxation illegally, and the ability to fund the payments out of reserves without borrowing shows that the requirement to demand further payment from all ORC ratepayers as well as long suffering Dunedin City ratepayers was potentially unlawful.

    Secondly, the ORC broke the rules that they agreed to in giving Dunedin the nod and the stadium has cost more for ratepayers etc etc. However the design has not been scrutinised as deeply as maybe it should have in relation to what the ORC committed funds to and what is being received. More particularly the clear height available from the playing surface was stated to be 13 storeys or 39 metres.

    I have strong suspicions that the height would not be 39 metres on the opposite side to the main stand beside the Leith.

    The newly extended Otago House building in Dunedin CDB is 13 storeys or approx 39 metres and I respectfully suggest that is significantly higher than the clad wall that supports the stadium roof trusses along Portsmouth Drive which is the underside of the roof.

    Clearly the height increases as the roof extends past the stand however new IRB rules will have to be documented when the ball bounces into play if there is not 39 metres clear to the underside of the hanging steelwork on the underside of the stadium ceiling beside the smaller Portsmouth Drive stand.

    I know we have been conned and the ORC would be well intentioned if they claimed the tax deduction and used the reserves again for the final payment of the donation and relieved ratepayers of one rateable demand on their income but more importantly, for out of town ORC ratepayers cancel our commitment to the nonsense of the stadium in these tougher economic times.

    {This comment has been moderated. -Eds}

  94. Basil Walker

    Actually on reflection and with the assistance of this blog site providing stadium plans my suspicions are absolutely correct and the internal height is not as was stated by stadium management and supporters.

    In fact it is metres different almost double digit metres and not even as high as the prescribed height above the playing field at any point. Disgraceful and particularly nonsensical.

    {Sentence deleted. -Eds}

    Similarly the 2008/2010 Otago Regional Councillors have {words deleted} failed to act when under an obligation to do so in regard to the facts that their agreed conditions were not met in relation to funding the stadium, but they carried on anyway.

    A stupid decision that time will not be kind to.

    Now the stadium is not built to the resource consent plans and specifications.

    {This comment has been moderated. Again, contributors to this blog are kindly asked to avoid making statements that may result in legal action being taken against the owner of this site. -Eds}

    • Elizabeth

      Basil, thanks for your comments.
      We won’t have a blog-site if we’re shut down due to actionable comments. Please try to give the picture without defamatory allegations. Generally, we’re sympathetic to measured comments that tend in directions that are safe but pointed. If you value the aspirations and intents of the law of the land then you will know why this has to be.

      Elizabeth, co-author

  95. OI!

    Chill Pill – we’re not the freaking internet police, we are however the poor shmucks who are the ones (actually it’s only me) who gets the phone call from the ODT/Police/Lawyers saying what’s up with the comments being made on your site.

    If you want to slander and spread malicious rumours start your own blinkin site. I’m not spending 2011 chasing immature bloggers hell bent on trading cheap internet points.

    We allow a lot of pro and anti stadium conversations here, but sometimes people need to bite their tongues. Failing that to pre-empt any potential calls from the local police or lawyers again this year I will happily block users for x period of time to cool off. Elizabeth and I have better things to do than police you people.

  96. UglyBob

    Basil, according to the ODT the new height of Otago House is 42.5m:

    The internal roof height of the stadium of the stadium has been reported as 35m for the South Stand roof truss, 37m at the centre of the pitch and 30m on the North Stand side; external roof height is stated at 47m. I imagine these heights could be easily verified with the right measuring equipment.

  97. Kiwifly

    Basil Walker -was a dickhead a year or two ago ….doesn’t appear much has changed.

  98. Marvo

    and what does it matter re: roof height?

    In the unlikely event that a ball hits a truss during play there will be a local rule like in most sports, see baseball with odd shape grounds. Players are smart and can adjust to uniqueness in grounds, watch any game from Athletic Park in Wellington with a bit of wind, and players usually kick for distance not height, at 37m an up and under would have players swapping cell phone numbers as they wait for the ball to come down.

    The new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Texas has a big screen hanging above the pitch and it is at 90 feet (27m), no issues in 2 seasons of games and will host super bowl this year, only time it has been hit is during pre game where punters give the crowd a thrill.

  99. Basil Walker

    Accept your timidness but you can’t make an omlette without breaking an egg.
    Paul, my evidence on Harland et al, etc has been lodged in the High Court. Has yours?

    UglyBob, thanks for the verifications as printed. I was judging the Otago House by my guestimate of the internal stud height and simple multiplication of the floors and the suspended ceilings hid the 200mm per floor.
    Of course the ODT could have taken lift towers etc into consideration but it matters little apart from the comparison.
    In regard to the stadium I have calculated the internal height of the stadium from the floor levels shown in plans {Correction: provided via links at What if? -Eds} and extrapolated the curvature by scale.
    It is seriously different and the hanging undertruss is significant.

    I still have the right to lodge a memorandum through the High Court in regard to the Stadium and possibly could also request through application a review of the cancellation of the right to appeal the High Court decision.

    I believe the matters of truth are becoming stronger and more evident as the facts are “concreted in” and the World Cup creeps closer.

    • Elizabeth

      Basil, as an individual, I gather from what you say you have options with your High Court action. None of our business, Paul and I author a blog. If I had facts, can’t speak for Paul, to stand up in court I might very well consider hiring a very good out of town barrister to do some work for me.

      At the moment I have unrelated legal matters I’m party to at Environment Court and accordingly have set time and priorities to those which are the more pressing. I’m so timid.

      From time to time Paul and I do take it upon ourselves to protect this blog-site from mis-use. That’s our role and we’re sticking to it. No apologies.

      Your previous dealing at court was documented here by virtue of media coverage issuing at the time.

  100. Phil

    I’d be disappointed if this site became highjacked as a venue for personal publicity. There are a number of free Blog Sites available for anyone wishing to do so. The contributors here have worked hard over the years to maintain a balanced discussion and a mature approach. I would hope that continues to be respected.

  101. Basil Walker

    A balanced discussion is admirable as is balanced funding. My position has always been not against the Stadium per se but the unbalanced funding of the stadium by the ORC.
    People who live in Central Otago do not need to gift a major donation to Dunedin because reciprocal funding of Queenstown infrastructure would not be acceptable to most Dunedinites.

  102. “Paul, my evidence on Harland et al, etc has been lodged in the High Court. Has yours?” ??? I have no need to place papers with a court of law ??? Standing and guessing curvatures of steel and guestimating errors in law of consents isn’t really my game.

    Your views on the ORC may be construed as a valid point of view, but not one that I believe holds much validity.

    Who’s to say the folk coming down from north (or Australia as has been confirmed) won’t be extending their southern stay after Elton John to pay a visit to Central Otago – or any other part of Otago.

    After all the ORC isn’t just Dunedin or Queenstown. It’s very much the folk of the Waitaki who will be having tourists drive though to see concerts, tests and other events. The whole region contributed to this, not just the kind folk in the lakes area. And unless I’m very much mistaken the people of PARTS of the Otago region will also benefit from this.

  103. Marvo, the highest recorded punt (the highest kind of rugby kick) using tv cameras is something like 15m less than the internal height of the stadium structure. Sure a cricket ball could be hit that high, but cricket will never be played there. But as you say the IRB has allocation of local laws within its constitution, and that would be accommodated within the playing conditions of the games in Dunedin – not that they will be needed.

  104. Plus, also due to a cunning bugger in the ORC, isn’t their contribution to the stadium less than originally thought due to accounting double speak meaning their contribution is tax deductable or something along those lines. So the money will be paid back early and be of less of a burden to the ratepayers of the ORC. That wasn’t in the original arrangements made by the ORC and its constituents

  105. UglyBob

    Paul, I think that’s one thing Basil is getting at, ie the tax deduction/rebate should be made to each individual ORC ratepayer rather than to the Council – self-defeating of course in terms of servicing the debt.

    As to the relevance of his comments on the roof height, I’m a little confused. The Stadium plan change set a maximum height of 60m so anything less does not seem an issue in terms of resource consents (which I assume the DCC handled); ORC approval of funding in Feb 2009 included a stipulation that minimum design standards contained in a March 2008 CST report would be adhered to but that document doesn’t specify a required roof height. The height issue seems like a red herring.

    • Elizabeth

      We have a number of threads at What if? which address the height of the stadium – James cited the following on 2009/08/09 at 1:58 pm:

      “The height of the stadium in proximity to the Leith Stream was also noted as a matter that may have a detrimental effect on local amenity. The proposed plan provisions limit the height of the stadium to 60m and must be 4.88m from the Leith Stream. While this will be imposing, it is still an improvement on the current permitted baseline that permits an industrial building of any height to be built to the boundary of the site as of right.”

      Click to access ma_PEC_r_2008_06_09_Stadium-Private-Plan-Change-Request-PC-2007-4-Issues-and-Process.pdf

      And yes, indeed it was all discussed at the Plan Change hearing. UglyBob is entirely correct.

  106. Richard

    My recollection is that the height was tested using actual kicks made by former Otago and All Black first-five Nick Evans. He could certainly ‘put it up’ and I have not seen any other rugby player match the height/s he achieved. Something he apparently developed when playing Australian Rules during his sojourn over “the ditch”.

  107. Phil

    Haven’t heard the Nick Evans story before. But I did read that the designers had determined the height through some kind of computer simulation. Maybe one of them has a Playstation.

  108. Richard

    I recall that was how it was done using Nick’s ‘kicks’ but do not ask me how. Would certainly be beyond PS!

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