Regional council builds Palace, refuses help to dredge Otago boat harbour

The ironies are Most Apparent.

The Otago Regional Council contributed $30m to the stadium roof (an activity beyond its local authority mandate), yet the council has no intention of helping the Otago Yacht Club to maintain the city’s marina, the Otago Boat Harbour.

[click to enlarge]
DCC Webmaps – Otago Boat Harbour at Mouth of Leith JanFeb 2013

Otago Yacht Club’s origin dates back to 1892, making it one of the oldest yacht clubs in Otago. The club caters for a range of sailing interests from keelboats to trailer yachts and centreboarders. The club also operates keeler haul-out facilities and welcomes visiting boats. The club manages a full events programme during summer, including harbour, coastal and ocean races. On Sunday mornings in the season the club runs ‘learn to sail’ and ‘learn to race’ programmes which cater for all ages. The clubhouse is a popular venue for private functions and for local organisations to hold meetings and events. Within walking distance of the city centre, the clubhouse offers showers, laundry facilities, email connections etc. The resident caretaker-manager will usually manage to accommodate requests for berthage for boats up to 50 feet. The alongside mooring facilities consist of several large punts inside a walled boat harbour. Due to silting, access to the boat harbour has only been tenable approximately two hours either side of high tide for boats with 2m draft. The Otago boat harbour was last dredged in 1995.


### ODT Online Thu, 20 Apr 2017
Club gets go-ahead to dredge boat harbour
By David Loughrey
The Otago Boat Harbour is about to get its first dredging in more than 20 years, after the facility reached such a state rescue vessels could not leave the harbour at low tide. The work, expected to start soon, has been described as a major achievement by the Otago Yacht Club, which leases the boat harbour. Club vice-commodore Blair McNab said the cost of the project – more than $300,000 – was being paid for from grants and club membership fees. […] The club recently received resource consent from the Dunedin City Council for the work. The consent allowed the club to deposit dredged sediment and soil on land in Magnet St, behind the club, for drying. Mr McNab said once the dredged material had been dried, which took about two weeks, it would be taken to the nearby Logan Point quarry. The consent said once the work was completed, about 100cu m would remain on the grass area at Magnet St to form a barrier around its perimeter, and provide better drainage. The consent decision said the boat harbour was in such a state that at low tide, craft used for harbour rescues could not get out. […] The club had hoped the Otago Regional Council might help with the cost of the dredging, as alterations to the Water of Leith meant more spoil was coming from the nearby mouth of the stream. Mr McNab said it appeared the council was not going to help.
Read more

The Star April 2014 via Otago Yacht Club. Also at ODT Online 22.4.14


The Otago Regional Council’s “special consultation” over its Dunedin headquarters is flawed, writes former councillor Gerrard Eckhoff.

### ODT Online Tue, 18 Apr 2017
Review needed in lieu of proper consultation
By Gerrard Eckhoff
The Otago Regional Council’s annual plan is now open for public consultation. Implicit in the word consultation is the opening of a meaningful dialogue with the public. It would be entirely disingenuous for any local authority to enter into discussion on their annual plan by merely informing the public of council intent without showing a willingness to accept “the wisdom of crowds”.
….This year’s ORC annual plan contains four lines on “Dunedin building review” in its feedback document which could easily be missed at first reading. To its credit, the council has finally accepted its statutory obligation for “special consultation” on this $30million major project.
….The last time the council ventured forth on a new building project without any prior special consultation, it cost the ratepayers upwards of $3million for the concept design and drawings alone. The cost of that proposal was well over $30million and it was never built. It is, therefore, hard to reconcile how the new building/s is going to be around the projected $20million mark, unless building costs have halved in Dunedin from eight years or so ago. The potential cost of a new car park building must also be factored in, so the ratepayers could soon be the lucky owners of two new buildings, as well as a difficult-to-sell ORC headquarters building in Stafford St.
Read more

DCC Webmap – Dowling St carpark JanFeb 2013, ORC office site starred

Related Posts and Comments:
9.1.17 ORC $wimming in it —SHOULD afford more Otago environmental…
15.8.16 ORC : Official complaints show integrity
22.6.16 ORC New HQ : Reminder, fiduciary duty and core responsibilities
● 9.6.16 ORC empire building again : Consultants give questionable options…
11.8.12 ODT editorial (spot on!) — ORC temporary headquarters
26.6.09 ORC headquarters [incl news items to present day]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

*Images: Otago Yacht Club except where stated otherwise.


Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Finance, Geography, Heritage, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, ORC, People, Perversion, POL, Politics, Project management, Property, Public interest, Resource management, Site, Sport, Tourism, Town planning, Transportation, Travesty, Urban design, What stadium

14 responses to “Regional council builds Palace, refuses help to dredge Otago boat harbour

  1. Elizabeth

    Useful reminder. With which I agree factually, with slight clarification in italics.

    Received from Douglas (Mick) Field
    Sun, 23 Apr 2017 at 9:12 a.m.

    Subject: Boat Harbour Dredging
    I was reading your blog where Mr Murray was quoted as saying that the Otago Harbour Board used to dredge and maintain the area to keep the channels clear for recreational users but that stopped when that became commercialised (becoming Port Otago). And then going on to say that the marina was now a city asset and the city doesn’t want to know anything about it.

    {It’s true the Otago Boat Harbour and leased grounds are an asset enjoyed by the people of Dunedin (the city; a city asset). The OYC has had to apply to both councils for consents associated with the proposed dredging activity. Furthermore, for a period of years the legals and demarcations between the councils’ jurisdictions were, informally and formally, and regrettably, very far from clear (see past OYC LTP/AP submissions to DCC in particular which are publicly available, a small number of which have been published here historically). -Eds}

    Mick continues…
    Well the deal was when the city took over the boat harbour from the Otago Harbour Board that the land would be the city’s responsibility but the water would remain the Harbour Board’s responsibility simply because the natural divisions of expertise occurred between land and water.
    And that arrangement would still go back to the time when the deal was settled in the mid 1970s. The land was handed over to the DCC which ultimately made it a reserve. I know that simply because it was I who was instrumental in brokering the deal between the then OHB and the DCC as would Maurice Davis who was the Harbour Board engineer at the time.
    The excuse that the Regional Council uses regarding its own division of responsibility (ie its whole owned company) is lame in the extreme. The responsibility for the harbour rests with the ORC – NOT the DCC.

    {Re “the land would be the city’s responsibility” – for this, read, “the City” meaning Dunedin City Council. -Eds}

  2. Elizabeth

    Further comment received:

    “The Otago Regional Council has reneged on the original deal.

    When ORC took over the Otago Harbour Board it inherited all the obligations. It was a very difficult process getting the city council to take over the land in the first place – but the ORC is being dishonest in this – it ought to have done the dredging as part of its obligation to the community.

    The OHB built the reserve in the first place and allowed the recreational facilities to be developed (without security of tenure) and then in the end wanted the DCC to take over the land.

    The DCC at least provided the sporting groups security of tenure which allowed them the opportunity of raising loans among other things.”

    • Hype O'Thermia

      It’s much harder to get any invisible work done, than for them to find the funds for self-monuments e.g. new premises. Dredging? So dull, so easy to ignore.
      See also DCC Fubar $-bleedout compared with steady timely maintenance of invisible services – drains, mudtanks.
      Worst of all is when the necessary work is like housework – once done it doesn’t stay done for all time. I have empathy, vacuuming and washing and dusting are dull jobs with satisfaction very short before dirt returns and the work needs to be done again. But that’s where self control and ability to concentrate on basic duties should come in, ahead of glamour projects.

  3. Elizabeth

    Council’s “Obsessive Secrecy” Under Scrutiny
    Monday, 24 April 2017, 4:20 pm
    Press Release: Michael Laws

    23 April 2017

    Cr Michael Laws
    Dunstan Ward
    Otago Regional Council

    Councillor Uses Official Information Act to Highlight Council’s “Obsessive Secrecy”

    Otago regional councillor Michael Laws has used the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (1981), and the responses of the Otago Regional Council to his requests for “stock standard local government information” to highlight the organisation’s “obsessive and unhealthy culture in hiding basic information away from the Otago public.”

    “I’ve never struck a public organisation – the SIS apart – that is more determined to be secretive than the Otago Regional Council. It’s got to the position where it’s just plain unhealthy and anti-democratic.”

    Cr Laws said that he had been forced to use the Official Information Act after attending his first meeting of the council’s audit and risk committee, “and discovering that neither audit nor risk concept seemed to be alive.”

    “For example, I asked for basic information like some accountability around how the chief executive spends ratepayers’ monies (in terms of discretionary grants) that are not reported to the council. That information wasn’t available.

    Much worse, it didn’t seem to have ever been available to the governance team nor publicly notified.

    Then I asked what legal risks attended the current council – a basic question that any audit and risk committee would automatically address – well, that information wasn’t available either.

    Finally, the information that was presented – like basic details around how the council invests its $55 million of reserves – was deliberately hidden away from public and media view. I have now obtained some of that under the Official Information Act [see enclosed document] but I couldn’t previously release such basic information as a councillor! That’s simply absurd.”

    Cr Laws said that one of the most important legislative requirements of local government “is to be open and transparent. It’s a basic principle of the Local Government Act. But this obsessive secrecy, and lack of accountability and transparency, frustrates that law every day.”

    Cr Laws said that he had brought the matter to the attention of the governance team so the release of the accompanying information “should come as no surprise.”

    “The council is due to make some huge decisions around water use and the like that will affect the livelihoods of thousands of Otago people. But how can the public have any fate in that process if such lack of openness and transparency permeates through the organisation? It’s got to stop.”



    • Yes, I’ve been dealing with the ‘obsessive secrecy’ with regards to their agendas minutes and consultation documents. But I think I have made significant progress today. Talked with a senior management person at DCC City Library. Told her ORC had not sent its Annual Plan consultation documents to the library.

      An excerpt from Local Government Meetings and Official Information Act 1987
      46A Availability of agendas and reports
      (1) Subject to subsections (6) to (10), any member of the public may, without payment of a fee, inspect, during normal office hours, within a period of at least 2 working days before every meeting, all agendas and associated reports circulated to members of the local authority and relating to that meeting.
      (2) Subject to subsections (6) to (10), the agendas—
      (a) shall be available for inspection under subsection (1) at the public offices of the local authority (including service delivery centres) and the public libraries under the authority’s control; and
      (b) shall be accompanied by either—
      (i) the associated reports; or
      (ii) a notice specifying the places at which the associated reports may be inspected under subsection (1).

      I suppose technically ORC don’t have to out their stuff in the DCC library because the libraries aren’t under their control, they’re under the control of the Dunedin City Council. That means if you don’t notice a newspaper ad or have a computer, you would have to go to ORC’s Stafford St office.

      (Reminds me of the Vogons saying the planning documents to demolish earth had been available at Alpha Centauri for decades.) But IMO morally ORC should put them in the DCC City library.

      Anyway, extremely, nice, helpful senior library management person (who saw me without an appointment) said she would look into the library being pro-active in getting stuff from the ORC instead of waiting till the ORC got around to it, when and if they felt like it. I also mentioned the notice board in the library foyer (empty) and she said that was used by community groups. I said but couldn’t they put a notice there saying, “DCC and ORC agendas, minutes and consultation documents available on the 3rd floor. Ask a librarian for help.” She said, “That’s a good idea.”
      (Phew! At last? After about 15 years of nagging?)

      Then I went over to the DCC Customer Service Centre and looked at their pathetic, little anonymous rack of minutes, agendas etc and a nice big wall space above it with a helpful sign saying ………no, what am I thinking? NO SIGN! A big picture instead.

      Do people care about this sort of thing? Of course not. Do they care about excessive spending on offices etc, decent bus services and rampant pond-weed etc? Yes, of course. So they need to have the opportunity to make the connection that this is about democratic decision-making at public cost about things which matter.

      • Elizabeth

        Great work Diane – it makes a difference. Good people in the system (as you have found) appreciate constructive feedback to improve their organisation’s messaging and its whereabouts for Community Access.

  4. Yes, yes, I voted for Michael Laws. Very politically astute. At least knows the difference between right and wrong.

  5. Elizabeth

    Interesting statement made at the Heritage Awards this week, DCC not keen on selling Dowling St carpark to ORC. Get that.

  6. I really don’t like the sound of this ORC palace. Very likely that it will become apparent that it was an awful waste of money only well after it has been built. And the ORC possibly abolished! Pity it wouldn’t also be possible to abolish the building and get a refund.
    If we had an ‘environmental protection agency and a ‘river management authority’, would we really need a regional council at all?

  7. The new ORC palace can still be stopped.
    Submissions to the Otago Regional Council Annual Plan close 12 May, 2017 at 5.00 pm.

    Here’s a link to the online submission form via:

    The Submission Form (direct):

    Here’s the link to ORC Agendas and Minutes. No meeting videos but there are audio recordings:

    Minutes of the ORC Finance and Corporate Committee meeting on 22 March 2017, state:
    Cr Michael Laws moved: That the $665,000 for further development of the ORC Head Office building design be removed from the 2017/18 Annual Plan.
    No seconder, motion lapsed.
    The discussion for this and two other motions put by Cr Laws begins at 58.01 into the audio file.
    Cr Laws said spending money on design was ‘putting the cart before the horse’ because they had to go to special consultation before they could do the building. So they shouldn’t be doing the design now. Too right! Looks like ‘cynical consultation is intended. They think they are going to build it anyway so why not start spending money on designs right away? So I reckon Cr Laws will be watching that future special consultation process like a hawk. Because if there is resounding public protest via submissions against the palace, then it can be stopped.

    So anyone who just copies Cr Laws motion: “That the $665,000 for further development of the ORC Head Office building design be removed from the 2017/18 Annual Plan.” (ends)
    into an online submission form before 12 May (Friday week) is helping to stop the palace.

    And the Otago Regional Council may be going.
    Cr Laws was the mover of the resolution below:

    Minutes of the Finance and Corporate Committee meeting on 8 February 2017, state:
    Moved by Cr Laws (and tabled in the agenda)
    “That the Otago Regional Council engage with the territorial authorities in its region to collaborate in an independent study that will assess the merits and demerits of establishing unitary authorities in the Otago region, and disestablishing the Otago Regional Council. The findings of the study to be publicly published.”

    This was amended and then lost.
    So the majority of present ORC councillors do not want the ORC to go.
    One of the arguments they used against the motion was ‘No mandate from the community’. Well, there’s no community mandate for them staying either!

    NB: To ORC’s credit the sound quality of their audio files is excellent and much better than the sound quality on the DCC videos.

  8. Another issue for ORC submissions. Lake weed.

    Minutes of Otago Regional Council Finance and Corporate Committee meeting on 22 March 2017
    Moved Cr Laws: That $100,000 is placed in the draft Annual Plan for the mitigation of lagarosiphon and management of lagarosiphon in the lakes and waterways of the Otago Regional Council.
    No seconder, lapsed. (ends)

    Here’s info on the threat from this nasty noxious water weed:

    From what I understand from the discussion, other ORC councillors would not support Cr Laws’ motion because they were waiting for aid from central government. Also, there was a letter in ODT today suggesting the stuff is unkillable – so why waste money trying. I’d rather have the money to try so I support Cr Laws’ motion. If you do too, just paste it into your submission.

    {See earlier post ORC $wimming in it —SHOULD afford more Otago environmental protection (9 Jan 2017). -Eds}

  9. I thought Michael Laws would shake the ORC up. Hooray for those last 5 votes which got him in. Here’s another story about another water weed and Cr Laws claiming the ORC have been sitting on their hands.

    {See earlier post ORC $wimming in it —SHOULD afford more Otago environmental protection (9 Jan 2017). -Eds}

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    {This comment has been released from the spam filter at 2:47 a.m. on 16 May.

    What if? isn’t experiencing the same phishing problem – which is something anyone using the Internet can experience at any time. Make sure your antivirus protection has the latest update – switch on automatic updates for your system. -Eds}

    I clicked the link (above) to the online submission form, which went to Draft Annual Plan 2017/2018
    Consultation Document for the 2017/2018 Draft Annual Plan
    on which page was a blue box with the words
    Your feedback please
    click to complete an online submission form

    When I did that I got this:
    “Adguard has blocked access to this page
    This web page at, has been reported as a phishing page and has been blocked based on your security preferences.
    Adguard has found that this page may be a forgery or imitation of another website, designed to trick users into sharing personal or financial information. Entering any personal information on this page may result in identity theft or other abuse.”

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