Community board (Mosgiel-Taieri) clandestine meetings

“The key principle of LGOIMA [Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act] is about transparency and openness.” –Sandy Graham, DCC Corporate Services manager

Bill Feather### The Star Thu, 14 Nov 2013
Board warned off private meetings
By Tim Miller
A catch-up over coffee nearly landed the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board in hot water after members of the public complained it was meeting in secret.

Read more (page 3) at


### November 11, 2013 – 7:11pm
Nightly interview: Bill Feather
One group of Dunedin’s elected officials do their work often under the radar of the media. They are the members of the city’s six community boards, which each have six members, plus one councillor appointed by the DCC.


Cr Kate Wilson is the DCC appointee to the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board; and Cr Mike Lord, to the Strath Taieri Community Board.
The two councillors are required to travel to community board meetings outside their own constituencies, for which they may now claim a travel disbursement.
Is Mayor Cull ensuring (more) money for friends? Surely not.
Shouldn’t Cr Wilson and Cr Lord stay on their own home turf, reducing the impost on DCC ratepayers?

Profiles for new councillors were supposed to be available at the DCC website from 8 November. It hasn’t happened.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image – Bill Feather


Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Economics, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management

55 responses to “Community board (Mosgiel-Taieri) clandestine meetings

  1. Brian Miller

    Just to let you know that I was the community board member mentioned in the article that would not attend the secret meetings (they certainly were not coffee catch-up meetings) and the abuse I took when I questioned at a board meeting why there was no debate on issues, just rubber stamping decisions that had been made at these secret meetings. To be told that if I wanted to know what was going on I had to attend their secret meetings. Just watch this space there is lots more to come.

    • Thanks for clarifying Brian.
      allied press are a bit picky on length of citations and such just now, thus your mention further into the article didn’t appear in the post at top of this thread.

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    Thanks Brian.
    Remember when “transparency” was one of the biggies Dave Cull campaigned on?
    Looks like transparency, the action not the mouth-work, is breaking through regardless. Good news for Dunedin people!

  3. Brian Miller

    How about part of the board’s discretionary fund being allocated to a group for a specific purpose, but the funds not used for the purpose that it was allocated for, and a board member being on this group and not declaring and interest during the meeting, and voting on the funds allocation.

  4. John P.Evans, concerned citizen

    It’s only a Rort if you’re not in it!

  5. Jock strap

    Is that the reason why you put your name forward John ?

  6. Hype O'Thermia

    People in many roles get a choice whether to act honestly or ….. Councillors get a different set of opportunities than others who may do some work for cash and some goes through the books to look convincing for the taxman. Any councillor or tradesman makes his or her own choice whether to go for the rorts or not. People unless they are habitual criminals by nature starting from when they were too young to be officially held responsible, don’t choose their career based on how much cheating opportunities it offers. Why some subsequently embrace all available temptations is an interesting question, and in general the less formally “illegal” it is, the more appealing to those types is unethical rorting. No risk of a conviction = not guilty of cheating, I suppose that’s the way they see it.

  7. Anonymous

    I think this is the heart of the problem:

    “Maurice Prendergast Elected Unopposed
    Bill Feather Elected Unopposed
    Blackie Catlow Elected Unopposed
    Mark Willis Elected Unopposed
    Martin Dillon Elected Unopposed
    Sarah Nitis (nee Davie) Elected Unopposed”

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    Anonymous, I take it you mean some people end up with a sense of automatic entitlement because they stroll into the job without opposition – because no matter how hard I try I can’t see Maurice Prendergast as anything other than the solution not the problem. Don’t know enough about the others to make a firm statement like that either for or against.

  9. Anonymous

    No. I saw a meme on the Internet yesterday: “You can’t stop stupid, but you can vote it out”. With the pitiful approach to democracy that is evident in NZ – that an entire community board can be elected unopposed because there were insufficient candidates – you can’t even vote out stupid. An election that was not contested cannot possibly be called representative, therefore those representatives should have no governance.

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    I’d dearly love to see a “voting out” option on the ballot papers. With FPP one tick for yes, and perhaps to avoid confusion completely colouring-in the square for No; otherwise rank preferred candidates 1, 2, 3 etc but rank 0 for all those you want rid of. Counting would take the votes for then subtract the votes against to get the final count for each candidate. In the case of “elected unopposed” even though the sole candidate would end up winning (unless the result was a negative number, in which case a new election would be necessary since the person has no mandate AT ALL) they would be well aware that they are not regarded with utmost respect, and might pick up their game to earn more respect for next time. Or is that unduly optimistic?

  11. Whippet

    Anonymous: Interesting to see from your list two names that appear as founding members of the restructured Mosgiel business association: B. Feather and S. Nitis (Davie). On close examination of the board’s minutes it would appear that a lot of the board’s funds have ended up in the business association’s hands. Who was it that said the board was the business association in drag?

    • Whippet, I take it that no conflicts (Feather and Nitis) were declared at the community board when discretionary funds were allocated to the business association. (that’s not a question)

      ODT 17.11.13 Board warned off private meetings
      Under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (Lgoima), all meetings of local government bodies (including community boards) must be advertised and agendas and reports made available two days prior to the meeting.

  12. Whippet

    Elizabeth. From the records it appears that Nitis is a new member on the board this term. Feather appears to have been the chairman last term. Appears to be no declaration in the minutes.

    • Oh well. All down to Feather then? aided by his coffee buddies who don’t know standard committee business procedure or have been willing to ignore requirements – meanwhile, using ratepayer funds to flush the Mosgiel Business Association.

  13. Brian Miller

    Just to clarify some of the chat that is going on here. Sarah Nitis has only become a board member this term, and therefore wasn’t involved in board meetings and decisions in the last term when I was a member of the board. Let me give you an insight into how some of the board’s funds were manipulated. The board had previously had reports about Christmas decorations and the costs, from board member Teresa Christie, and at the board meeting of 19/06/2012. Minute item 3b Christmas Tree Decorations. A resolution was moved “That the Board allocate $5000.00 towards Christmas Decorations.” Very good, I thought, after the previous year’s balls-up. Then I get a copy of a letter from the Chair of the Mosgiel Business Association Sarah Nitis to the Chair of the community board, thanking the board for the contribution to the Christmas in Mosgiel 2012 project. This letter was never tabled by the chair at any board meeting. What surprised me about this letter was that it thanked the board for the grant which contributed to the purchase of a shipping container. I will let you judge for yourself. Should the board’s resolution of $5000.00 for Christmas decorations been allowed to have been used to buy a shipping container, when the resolution specifically specified Christmas decorations? Especially, when it appears that some board members were involved with the Christmas 2012 project. Stay tuned I will tell you about the board funding the Wellbeing group at a later date.

  14. Hype O'Thermia

    Was it a tinsel-covered shipping container with a fake chimney “for Santa to come down”? No?
    Oh well, just thought it was worth examining possibilities.
    Looks like a genuine mint-condition rort indeed.

    • I mean, yeah, the container could be offsite storage for Xmas street decorations and/or home to Santa’s cave for the run-up to 25 December… but the grant application should have said that. Now I have to ask – does the container actually exist (??) and is there copy of a date of purchase receipt available for the Community Board record ?!
      Or did we buy some of Cr Brown’s drainage pipes.

  15. Anonymous

    Call the Local Government Minister; this is misappropriation at best.

  16. Hype O'Thermia

    Dunedin is off the map as far as regulatory authorities are concerned. We have a long, long, LONG history of trying to get attention focused on rorts, gigantic errors, porkies, poor governance, fubars & snafus etc etc. Politicians, well you get a letter from the office junior saying the Minister thanks you for your letter yada-blah-yada.

  17. Brian Miller

    Another board titbit. On 13/07/2011 Urbis Ashburton wrote to the board with a Proposed private plan change. Formby St, Outram. Welcoming any comments prior to this application being formally lodged with the Dunedin City Council.
    On 10/08/2011, the board chair Bill Feather replied back to Urbis Ashburton the following: “The Board acknowledges receipt of your intent to lodge a proposed private plan change, Formby St, Outram and wishes not to make comment prior to it proceeding through the full council Planning Process.”
    During this time, this matter was never raised or discussed at any board meeting. It must have been a decision made at one of the secret meetings of the board. As a member of the board who would not attend secret meetings, it would appear that I was not to be privy to any decision on this issue, even when the reply contained “The board acknowledges receipt of your intent.”

  18. Just taking a leaf out of dcc’s handbook?….

  19. ### ODT Online Wed, 20 Nov 2013
    Pre-meets continue
    By Debbie Porteous
    It is likely the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board will still meet outside formal meetings for workshops and briefings, the board’s chairman says.
    Read more


    ### ODT Online Wed, 20 Nov 2013
    First ‘business hub’ meeting
    By Dan Hutchinson
    The Mosgiel Business Association is to hold its first ”Mosgiel business hub” meeting, aimed at attracting interest from non-retail members as well as its more traditional members.
    Read more

    ● First hub meeting – Wed 27 Nov (5.45pm-7pm) at Nellies Bar and Grill

    • Brian Miller

      “No motions were passed or decisions made and there was no active debate at such informal meetings” a quote from the board chair from the “Pre-meetings continue” story above.
      What a load of bullshit. What did they do for the hour or so that the secret meetings were run? The mind boggles. It was never more evident what was going on at these secret meetings, when I questioned at the formal board meetings why there was no debate on issues, just rubber stamping decisions made in secret. When I was told that if I wanted to know what was going on I should attend these secret meetings. It is interesting how this story by Debbie Porteous only tells one side of the story, as I sat beside her and Tim Miller (no relation) of The Star who wrote the story at the head of this blog during the meeting where this subject was discussed, Tim approached me later for comment, but not Debbie. Understandable I suppose when you look who the advertisers are in the Taieri Times.

      • Oh but Brian, Mr Feather thinks it might be possible to let the public sit in on the community board’s (secret) ‘briefings and workshops’. I reckon they’ll put their discretionary funding from DCC at risk. Watch this one.

        • Brian Miller

          Elizabeth does that mean that these briefings and workshops that Mr Feather intends holding for the board will now be publicly notified. How else are we to know when they are being held? If Mr Feather intends to do this, then he has my full support. Question is why has it taken so long. This new board just might be heading in the right direction. I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation.

        • Brian, public notification carries some cost – has the community board got any funds left to cover this after immediately dishing them all to MBA ? Or will Allied Press (Taieri Herald) be charitable ?

    • Brian Miller

      Dan Hutchinson’s story above is interesting. It appears that the Mosgiel Business Association in organizing this meeting, is doing what the board should be doing if they are the community representatives. It should also be noted that at least 3 past and present members of the board are involved with the business association. Whippet might have been right when he suggested that the board maybe the business association in drag.

  20. Brian Miller’s concern with ‘coffee meetings’ held by the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board points up other concerns with council transparency – but surprise surprise, Mayor Daaave Cull is keeping a firm lid on the sugar bowl.

    ### ODT Online Fri, 22 Nov 2013
    Weighing transparency against free, frank talks
    By Debbie Porteous
    Public workshops involving councillors and ratepayers may offer more transparency, but are unlikely to happen, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says.
    The issue has come to the fore in recent weeks after the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board was advised by council staff it was better not to hold meeting other than formal ones, unless they were workshops or briefings with staff.
    Read more

  21. See

    “Smoke filled rooms
    Submitted by MikeStk on Fri, 22/11/2013 – 9:10am.
    We used to call these “smoke filled rooms” where the politicians went to be persuaded by those with inside access not available to ordinary citizens followed up by formal public meetings where they got out the rubber stamps…………..”

  22. Brian Miller

    Debbie Porteous has got it oh so wrong in her report in today’s ODT. I never said that I was not invited to informal meetings.
    After I had attended a couple I decided, after what I had witnessed at these meetings that I would not attend these informal meetings that turned the following formal meetings into Clayton meetings.
    I will expand on this later, at the moment I have a business to run.

  23. Brian Miller

    Here is another snippet on how the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board was run.
    At a formal meeting of the board, the Deputy Chair Mr Barry Barbour decided to verbally attack me. This attack came out of the blue. It was not an agenda item. Yet the Chair of the board allowed his Deputy to rant and rave, and made no attempt to stop him. Not only did he attack me verbally, but he had prepared for it in written form. Anybody that knows anything about the chairing of community board meetings, would know that only agenda items are up for discussion, and personal attacks at a open public meeting certainly breach standing orders. Also at the board meeting as a board member was Cr S. Brown. One could have thought that he may have intervened, and pointed out the error of Mr Barbour speaking out of order. When one considers the vast knowledge that Cr S. Brown has of the rules of council and committees. With his experience as Deputy Mayor, and the chair of different council committees.
    I will leave you with an extract of the rant and rave about me by Mr Barbour.
    “Brian has contributed to our lack of interaction by not meeting informally.”
    This certainly confirms that the board under the chair Mr Feather had informal meetings.
    Can you just imagine what these informal meetings must have been like, if this was the standard of the formal meetings.

    • Brian Miller, that certainly says it all. Such persons, I’ve found, have an almost natural dislike of anyone suggesting they don’t know bog-standard committee business procedure – or indeed, the council’s standing orders.

  24. Jock strap

    Interesting, Mr Miller, to learn how Community Boards operate. Do we really need them?

  25. In letters to the ODT editor a fascinating story emerges around Siegfried Koglmeier’s The Beech Leaf Stepping Stones located in the pocket park at the corner of Gordon and Factory Roads, Mosgiel. Obliterated by misplaced picnic tables and rubbish receptacles – the published photograph was most concerning. The original letter writer Daffodil Johnston (ODT 26.4.14) received a very credible reply from former Mosgiel-Taieri community board member Brian Miller, as well as from Peter Nichols, Otago Sculpture Trust, today. It does appear that Bill Feather, as community board chair and community leader, hasn’t seen to ensuring the artist’s work is honoured and protected. Quite the opposite. A public affront.

  26. Elizabeth

    “It is very different to the formal nature of the public forums…” –Nitis

    ### ODT Online Wed, 2 Jul 2014
    Chat with community board
    Residents are invited to another chat over a cuppa with Mosgiel Taieri Community Board representatives tomorrow. The next Taieri over Tea Leaves meeting will be held at 11am at Blackstone cafe and bar in Mosgiel.
    Read more

  27. Brian Miller

    The Best comedy show in town. I went along to the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board meeting on Tuesday. What a joke, and a shambles this board has turned into under the Chairmanship of Bill Feather. An agenda was circulated, but not followed. Some items like the Declaration of interest were not even considered or discussed.
    Then came the Jewel in the crown. The rescinding of a resolution from a previous meeting. They couldn’t get it right the first time so they tried again, and what a hash they made of it again.
    Just as the city council has the debacle over John Wilson Drive. The Mosgiel Taeri Community Board has created its own debacle. With the placement of a picnic table on sacred ground reserved for a sculpture. Then, will we or won’t we move it?
    It has got to be seen to be believed. One group says leave it there, so it stays. Then along comes another group and says we want it moved, so the board decides to move it. Now after ten months the board has got themselves in such a state that they are now going to revisit it once again. Remember that this is only a picnic table, such a minor issue really.
    This is then followed up by an item about a grant of $4500 that the board made to a group calling itself Taieri Community Wellbeing Strategy Group. This group were going to perform miracles on the Taieri, with a timeframe that they had set for the July 2013- June 2014 year to carry out the miracles.
    A condition that was set by the community board, with the grant, that this group had to work towards Charitable status. Some 17 months later they have still not achieved charitable status, and have yet to perform the miracles as promised. I wonder what has happened to the $4500 grant money ?
    Now the interesting bit comes. As I noted before, there appeared to be a deliberate missing of the agenda item “Declaration Of Interest”.
    Board member Sandra Nitis proceeded to talk to the item about the Wellbeing group with great gusto. Then someone interrupted her and said “Are you not a member of this group, and you have not declared your interest.” Her reply was that I will do it retrospectively.
    It should also be noted that the Chair of the Board is a foundation member of this group. He also never declared his interest.
    Now you can see what I mean by a comedy show, and it is for free. The sad bit is that these people are elected representatives and are paid by you the ratepayer.
    The one bright note of the meeting was that Sandy Graham was in attendance, and did her best to try and guide the board on their procedure, but I don’t think the board took on board much of the good advice that she gave them.
    Cr Wilson is the council rep on this board, but unfortunately it was Sandy Graham who appears to be trying to keep the board on the right track. Unfortunately she does not very often attend the Mosgiel meetings.
    If you want some light entertainment along the lines of YES MINISTER come along to the next Mosgiel board meeting in six weeks’ time.

    • Elizabeth

      Brian, what a tidy summary of the community board’s lack of a competent chairman (in my opinion).

      How many committees and boards exhibit these same tendencies due to extremely poor chairing and governance – whether due to lack of knowledge and understanding of standard committee business procedure alongside best practice in the management of liability and risk, complicated hugely by deliberate ignore of real and perceived conflicts of interest.

    • Elizabeth

      DCC staff believe their own rubbish…. bloody hell.

      The murals would link Mosgiel to the street art in Dunedin. “It’s an opportunity to make a connection, so we are one city of Dunedin.” –Peter Christos, DCC

      ### ODT Online Wed, 3 Jun 2015
      Concept plan to go to consultation
      By Shawn McAvinue
      A messy Mosgiel corner with a history of “conflict” is set for a makeover. Dunedin City Council urban designer Peter Christos said he had created concept plans to “simplify the space” on the corner of Gordon and Factory Rds. He was asked to create the plans after a picnic table was installed and “conflicted” with the sculpture of leaf-shaped concrete paving stones.
      Read more

      • Clyde

        The board continue to pontificate on small minded issues such as the messy corner. That has been a regular item on the board’s agenda for about two years now, and appears to be no closer to being resolved. It should be noted that there is a tree on this site, and the Mosgiel tree hater has already suggested that it should be removed.

        • Elizabeth

          Larks, Mr Dillon wants another tree down ~!!

        • Clyde

          The word on the street is that he is working in the background as an adviser to an anti submitter to the new Countdown project.

        • Elizabeth

          Is there no downtime for Mosgiel Taieri Community Board member Martin Dillon’s MULTIPLE conflicts of interest.

  28. Brian Miller

    Elizabeth. The Chairman of this board has been the chair for about five years, so there are no excuses really. He has his pets. Some members can speak as often as they like, and go off on any old subject. While others are sat on, as it appears that they do not preach from the same bible as Bill.
    The Mosgiel Business Association of which Bill was a founding member has always received the lions’ share of the board’s discretionary fund, and appear to have spent it as they please. Like the time the board gave them $5,000 and stated that it was for Christmas decorations. The board received a letter from the chair of the business association at the time Sandra Nitis (that name again) thanking the board for the donation, but telling the board the money had been spent on a shipping container.
    Could that be seen as a misappropriation of board funds?
    It appears that since the board supported getting rid of the rural representation from the board, the only thing that counts is the business association and how much money they can throw at them to do as they like with it.
    The argument that they are having over the picnic table is a case in point. These tables were being made to put out in the rural area that has been deprived of board funds, but it appears that over half of them have been installed in the business area.

  29. Elizabeth, you ask: how many committees and boards exhibit these same tendencies due to poor chairing and governance? You need look no further than the top one, our own Dunedin City Council chaired by Mayor Dave Cull to see incompetence manifested in ‘spades’. Nothing breeds failure like excess.

  30. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 19 Mar 2015
    Intersection problems mounting
    By John Gibb
    Some drivers are facing ”grave difficulties” in using a major Mosgiel intersection at peak times, a community representative, Bill Feather, warns.
    Mr Feather, who chairs the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board, made a submission this week about safety issues involving Gordon Rd, Mosgiel, at a Dunedin hearing involving the draft Otago Southland regional land transport plans. He highlighted traffic problems involving the intersections at the first set of traffic lights in Gordon Rd, including the intersection of Quarry Rd, Gordon Rd and Gladstone Rd North and Gladstone Rd South.
    Read more

    {Comment copied to this thread, relevance. -Eds}

    Brian Miller
    Submitted on 2015/03/19 at 6:04 pm

    […] You would have noticed in today’s ODT, Mr Feather complaining to the ORC about traffic problems with the Gordon Rd / Quarry Rd, intersection out in Mosgiel. It would appear that Mr Feather and his mate on the board can be held to account for a lot of the problems that are accruing at this intersection. Residential land was being opened up on the hills above Gladstone Road, and at the time of the resource consent it was suggested that the development could come out on to Quarry Rd, through Woodland Drive, and this would take a lot of pressure of the intersection that Mr Feather is now complaining about; but Mr Feather’s appointed crony on the hearing committee at the time put a stop to that idea. All the traffic from this new development now has to travel through the intersection that Mr Feather is now complaining about. It is apparent in the community the dissatisfaction with the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board. Many in Mosgiel who have come up with suggestions for various problems around Mosgiel; but without any thought or consultation with the community, the community board appear to veto any suggestions that don’t fit their personal agenda.

  31. Elizabeth

    ### April 9, 2015 – 5:49pm
    Mosgiel residents talk concerns with DCC staff
    Intersections and pool facilities are major issues for Mosgiel residents. They’ve been speaking with community board members and Dunedin City Council staff, over the council’s long term plan. It’s part of wider public feedback the council’s seeking about its priorities for the future.

  32. Brian Miller

    This must be the sickest joke that the community board has been involved with.
    In a report to the board for its meeting on 29 April 2015 about the granting of the board’s discretionary funds is the following:

    “The board requested that staff review the existing funding guidelines to ensure that monies allocated to applicants could only be spent on the project applied for.”

    My experience on the board, was that the biggest problem of board funds being misappropriated came from within the board. As much as I tried to stop these ripoffs of the board funds, unfortunately I only had one vote. I took my concerns to the Mayor, and the CEO at the time, Paul Orders. Nothing was ever done to try and recover these funds, and now the board has requested a review of the existing guidelines.
    How can we trust a board to stop these ripoffs when I saw about $10,000 of board funds being misappropriated by its own members.
    What is needed is not a request from the board to review existing guidelines, but a full independent inquiry of what has happened, and how these people can be held accountable for their actions, and making sure that this cannot happen again.

    Could this be another case of waiting for someone to die, enabling the finger to be pointed without fear of a dead person talking.

  33. Hype O'Thermia

    Nek minnit, gangs tasked with reviewing marijuana pricing policies.

  34. Jacob

    We pay this board in excess of a $100,000 a year to keep it afloat, and still it appears some members cannot keep their hands out of the till.

  35. Wingatui Flyer

    What has happened to the Mosgiel Billboard on Quarry Road that for years displayed all the service club details, and local information to assist visitors to Mosgiel.
    It appears to have mysteriously disappeared over ANZAC weekend. Maybe Feathery Bill and his board mates can launch an inquiry, similar to the one about the picnic table on Gordon Road, that has taken all of three years to investigate, and still no progress has been made.
    This Billboard has been a BONE of contention with the board for the last six to eight years, and as you can see that as the board cannot get its arse into gear about anything. The Billboard has decided that enough is enough and decided to go AWOL on ANZAC weekend.
    Watch this space for further information. Once again the ODT will be about a week behind the news.

  36. Jacob

    Wingatui Flyer. The board can get its arse into gear when it comes to saving its own arse. Just look how they pulled out all the stops when it looked like the board would be history after the representational review. If only they would fight for the community in the same manner as they fought for their own survival. Instead of operating on cronyism, they mightn’t have been in the embarrassing position of steering down the barrel of unemployment.

  37. Wingatui Flyer

    What a wasted space the ODT’s Taieri Times has become. It runs a story and photo in today’s issue on the Billboard sign. Tells us about the board’s finger twiddling on the issue, and quotes someone on the difficulty of lowering the sign, and the need of heavy equipment to do so. It all reads as if the sign is still standing there in all its glory. In the meantime, with all the pontificating by the masses. The bloody sign has gone AWOL over Anzac weekend. It isn’t there any more. I wonder how long it will be before the light will go on at the board and the ODT, and they realize that the sign is not there. Don’t hold your breath in anticipation of the great awakening by the board as to what is going on in their patch, as it could be a long time before the next breath.

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