Community Outlook: 15-02-23
Community Board Meeting
7th February 2023, Waiau Town and Country Club at 3:30pm
One member absent.
Chris Bogers presented in the Public Forum section of the meeting with concerns related to the draft report Review into the Future of Local Government (2022) with a request that the Community Board/Council should be running public sessions that communicate the details of the draft report to community members.
Tuatapere Toy Library – repurposing of community partnership fund grant
The Community Board approved the request from the Tuatapere Toy Library to repurpose their unused grant monies from the Community Partnership Fund of $3,932.73 for the bouncy castle and storage system projects to the new projects to purchase flags for The Great Tuatapere Rubber Duck Races and toy boxes for local cafés.
Financial Report for the year ended 30 June 2022
The Financial Report was briefly presented/discussed, with a few minor corrections identified. Board members raised some questions of clarification, mostly around what some figures actually mean – council staff indicated that they would report back on these items.
Overall income is down a little and expenditure is down a little more – so, in general, finances are looking good.
There were a number of items touched on during the meeting, many I suspect had been discussed prior to the meeting, so only limited detail was presented in the meeting. I’ll list the items below with what details I have. I can only hope that any decisions relating to the items are presented at later meetings.
- Poisoned Trees – I think this has been fully covered in the media, however I would hope Council does not ignore the role that it played by not responding appropriately to the initial complaint.
- Community Housing – it was noted that the Council will improve the state of the flats in Tuatapere. One flat is to be refurbished, and all flats will have insulation put in the ceilings and heat pumps installed.
- Trees at the end of Ferry Road – I am not sure exactly which trees were being referred to or what the problem is – perhaps the large pine(?) trees and the obvious danger of the steep edge and potential slip on the McLeod’s Track?
- Railway Goods Shed – will be padlocked and discussions on its future use will take place.
- Railway Station – progress is being made on maintenance. Paint is now available.
- Water Towers – Orepuki and Tuatapere – some investigation appears to have been done on these Water Towers, and it was identified that they are in a state of disrepair. I assume some decision on what to do next will be raised at a later date?
- The $310,000 Better Off Funding that Council obtained for the “Tuatapere Railway Station initiative” needs to be spent. (see my comment below)
- Cycle Trails around Tuatapere – possible track to Port Craig – very limited detail at this stage.
- Council Purchase of Portable Pump Track (~$130,000) to be placed at various locations around Southland (including Tuatapere) to gauge interest.
- Heritage Orchard – some sick apple trees – dry conditions suspected cause – Open Orchard Project (R. Guyton) to investigate.
- Douglas Fir trees in Tuatapere Greenheart Reserve will be investigated at the same time as the poisoned trees to see if they are mature enough to be cut – complaints about shading from these trees have been received.
- Potential formation of MenzShed in Tuatapere – link with SPOT to be considered.
- Murals in Domain – mention of some progress on these, but no detail of what they are, where they are going etc. provided. (see my comment below)
- Recycling Centre – are cameras needed? (see my comment below)
Meeting closed: 5:10pm
The next meeting will be held on the 4th of April 2023.
Additional Thoughts and Info
Review into the Future for Local Government (2022)
(He mata whāriki, he matawhānui) Draft report, Wellington: New Zealand.
Unfortunately Chris Bogers presentation to the Community Board did not provide specific detail of exactly what the concerns were in relation to the draft report, but identified issues around voting age, voting method, wellbeing agenda to name a few.
My initial thoughts on this report are that it is a draft and that this is the time to raise concerns and identify any issues – it is not something being dictated to Local Government or communities. I believe it is an attempt to improve democracy and local decision-making, and to build stronger communities. In general, I see it as a good thing for New Zealand to be considering.
Coming from Australia, I can say that a Preferential Voting system is much fairer than the First Past the Post voting system used in New Zealand.
As an example, our current Mayor, Rob Scott, received a little over 10% of the Southland District votes. To be placed in that position, with the known support of only 1 in 10 people, is troubling to me. It may well be that significantly more people would have preferred one of the other candidates over our newly elected Mayor. This can be determined by using a Preferential Voting system where voters provide additional detail of who their second (or third etc.) choice is. If a voter’s first preference candidate does not ‘win’, the additional details are used. This ensures that the candidate that most voters prefer, wins.
There is clearly a disconnect between communities and Local Government (and I believe between Local and Central Government) throughout most of New Zealand, shown by very poor voting attendance and general apathy to all things Local Government, so there is a need to fix the way Local Government operates. No doubt there are many differing opinions on how this should be done – the opportunity to make submissions or comment is currently available to everyone.
For those who want to read the report (it includes an Executive Summary) or make a submission, it can be found at the following link along with other details:
A number of the “Other Items“, listed above, appear to me to have required, or will require, a decision to be made and will likely affect at least some members of the community. I believe these items/decisions should be tabled at a Community Board meeting before proceeding, so members of the community are made aware of them and can voice any opinions/objections etc. that they may have, and to meet the requirements of the various Local Government Acts.
As an example – the mention of two Murals being progressed in the Domain was news to me. A mural in a public place affects most people in the community in some way. I’m not suggesting this should not happen. I don’t have any knowledge of what the murals are or where they are going to be painted. There is a requirement that the public is notified of this type of thing and that a formal decision (options for/against) must be addressed at a public Community Board meeting.
The whole Railway Station Initiative, to me, has still not been communicated to the community. For the Railway Station maintenance to be progressed without a clear plan of what the Initiative actually is, seems counterintuitive to me. e.g. if the building were to be moved/removed, any maintenance is likely to be a waste.
There has been quite a bit of discussion around the dumping of non-recyclable rubbish at the Tuatapere recycling centre, both around the Community Board table and on Social Media. Most have included the suggestion of putting a camera up to ‘catch‘ the offenders.
I don’t believe simply installing a camera will solve the problem – it will just see the problem moved to roadside or bush dumping, which is worse than dumping at the recycling centre. This is a problem that has existed for some time and needs to be addressed by the Community Board/Council. The cost of doing the right thing, using Otautau Transfer Station, is significant.
Some suggestions that come to mind:
- Provide a regular (6 monthly?) rubbish drop day, where specific types of rubbish can be placed at the recycle centre (or other suitable location) and is taken away by the Community Board/Council. This could be a free, donation or pay for use service. It could be manned by volunteers or paid staff/locals.
- Provision of permanent skip bin(s), monitored by camera, where specific types of personal rubbish can be placed for collection.
I’m sure there are other options to consider. Since there will likely be an associated cost, perhaps there should be at least a partial ‘user pays’ component?
You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions or raise issues related to this post.