We have long been falling behind other NZ Cities

Dunedin is over-reliant on Central Government funded institutions like the Hospital and the University.

Especially as Government funding tends to go to marginal Parliamentary seats up north…

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the latest DCC Debt Graph

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DCC Debt Graph and budgeted projection 10 years ago

See next post above for what has actually happened after the big Stadium debt blow-out, in the latest DCC debt graph.

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ANZAC DAY Speech Brighton Town Hall 25.04/23

War – what it is good for? – absolutely nothin’.

So sang Edwin Starr in the 1970s #1 hit single which added to pressure on the US Government to withdraw its forces from Vietnam.

But the simple appeal of the idea that War is ‘good for nothing’ really is simplistic.

As Jimi Hendrix said “Of course war is horrible, but at present it’s still the only guarantee of peace.

That present has moved on with a rapid decline in war deaths since 1945, but as the conflict in Ukraine shows, War remains an ever-present threat…
And the Ukraine War is not just a War in Ukraine but a Civil War of the West with terrifying possible consequences for all of us.

I am not so sure that War can guarantee Peace, but many who have fought in Wars that we now commemorate did so with that belief.

Technology has moved on too, so that now War is far more deadly, more visible, and more focused than ever before.

War is obviously good for arms manufactures, for technological development, and often for boosting an economy.
Henry Ford made millions supplying truck engines to both sides, the Allies and the Germans in WW2, and he was one of many that profited greatly from War.
There are always some big winners in War, but most of us are losers.

We are here today to commemorate those that lost their lives, their healthy bodies, and sometimes their healthy minds to the horrors of War in defence of our peace and our freedoms. 

My first of 3 recommended books today is #1 Van der Kolk’s ‘The Body Keeps the Score’.
Van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University of Medicine and his insightful book gives telling testimony of Vietnam War veterans’ traumatic experiences and how mentally damaged some are as a result of horrific War experiences.

The old saying ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is obviously untrue as psychiatry begins to unpack post-traumatic-stress-disorder and other by-products of War.

We should ask ourselves to consider how attitudes to War have changed, and use ANZAC DAY to reflect on War and what We can learn from past conflicts.

My personal view of War has been very much shaped by my Grandfathers’ War experiences in Holland, and my Father’s experiences in Indonesia – Holland’s version of Vietnam after WW2.

My paternal Grandfather was a wealthy building contractor before WW2 and had 4 spec houses on the go when War broke out, but he only managed to sell one of them.
His reaction to the outbreak was to buy a whole trailer-load of Havana cigars as he was ‘not going to sit through another War without his favourite cigars’.
The War, loss of fortune, and privation made him so miserable however that hardly smoked any of them and in the third bitter Dutch winter of the War he traded the whole trailer-load of cigars on the black-market for a pan of fat.

He had to hide my then 16 year-old Father from the Germans who would have conscripted him for the army or munitions manufacture, as they did with most able Dutch males. The well-disciplined occupying Germans generally left the females alone.
They used to do occasional dawn raids on homes and rush into bedrooms to check how many beds were warm, and how many females there were in the house. If there was an extra warm bed they would tear the house apart to find the hidden male. I have wondered what effect years of sleeping in one of his sisters’ beds would have had on my pubescent teenage Father. Perhaps that explained why he never talked about sex.

I was named after my maternal Grandfather Lieuwe Bylsma, who was a conscientious objector in WW1.

He refused to kill anybody, and was consequently sent to the front line trenches where he was forced to peel potatoes with bullets and shells blasting all around him. Miraculously he survived.  

The best book I have read describing the horrors of WW1 trench warfare is # ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Remarque. The movie doesn’t do the book justice unsurprisingly.
By the time of WW2 my maternal Grandfather had a transport business and had taught himself fluent German, so was able to convince the occupiers that he was a Nazi sympathiser and was prepared to distribute hospital supplies for the Germans if they let him keep two of his trucks.

With no petrol available he modified his trucks to run on wood gas and amongst his wide range of contacts he knew a master forger who was not long out of jail. With these resources he was able to steal half of the German medical supplies for his extended Community around Utrecht, as the Germans saw no problem with half-empty trucks as long as the paperwork was perfectly matched.
At night-time he ran a kind of Secret Army using his trucks to ferry Jews and some downed British airmen to the coast to get them safely to England.
It was my teenage mother’s job to flirt with patrolling German soldiers at the front gate of their house so that they would not enter and search for hidden escapees. 
It is hard to imagine the responsibility she bore, knowing that if she did not keep these usually young patrollers diverted and send them on their way that my Grandfather and Uncle Henk were waiting either side of the front door with lead coshes that would see them buried in the back garden that night.  

My point in contrasting my different Grandfathers’ differing War experiences, is that the Financial Capital on my father’s side was of little use in the War, and his being able to buy anything he wanted in Peacetime made for a very miserable hungry War experience.
My Mother’s Father on the other hand, with his range of skills and contacts – his Social Capital, was able not just to survive the War but to be effective in saving lives and keeping his family and Community healthy. 
War brought his Community together, everyone did whatever they could and real Trust in each other was vital to surviving the Occupation.
Uncomfortable memories were likely the reason my Grandfather did not volunteer talking about the War, but when I could wheedle some stories out of him it was obvious that he had reveled in those years of confronting adversity that had brought them all so closely together.
The potential to live an effective and even joyful life whatever the circumstances is forcefully brought home in a wonderful short book called #3 ’Man’s search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychologist who survived Auschwitz.

The horrors of War cannot be overstated, but the power and riches drivers for making War should also not be underestimated.
‘War is hell’ as US General William Sherman’s said to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy in 1879.

The Hellishness of War has not been much of a deterrent for making War since however, and our attitudes to War have varied significantly over time and in different places.

In a more connected world our divisions now seem as deep as ever, and vicious Wars world-wide reflect the petty usually emotional battles we tend to indulge personally with each other.

‘There is nothing worth having that you don’t have to fight for’, but there are many different ways to fight for something, and physical battles are being superseded by emotional and psychological battlefields.
Artificial Intelligence will speed this process so that Wars are now more about ideologies, hearts and minds, rather than land or resources.

We should ask ourselves: ‘What do we really value?
And what are we prepared to do to keep the Peace and to keep what we really value?

What in fact are We good for?

Do Good and Be Good.

Thank you for your attention.

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Dunedin’s Water distribution systems still being taken by central government and misrepresented despite all objections

60 of 67 Councils voted to opt out of the 3 Waters takeover when this Labour government misled us into thinking we had a choice.

Now 10 regional entities instead of the earlier tribal 4, still with 50% Maori governance, remains the theft of Dunedin ratepayers’ paid-for over 150 years billion$+ investment in our water distribution systems.

“The entities would be owned by councils “ is a much-repeated falsehood.

Ownership is defined as ‘having control over an asset’ and Councils would have no control under the un-elected 50% Maori governance that has been pivotal since MP Mahuta misrepresented it.

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It is getting harder to ignore media mandates and suppression of dissent

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New Zealand context in the World

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Wasted rates and Taxes

I have long advocated leaving Local Government NZ for the reasons Brown gives but also because they have degenerated into excusing Central Government excesses like forcing 3 Waters ‘reform’ on Councils when 60 of 67 Councils voted to opt out of MP Mahuta’s 3 Waters scheme.

I have also advocated unsuccessfully that the DCC no longer fund SOLGM for similar self-serving reasons. I see little ratepayer value in either organisation.

“Taituarā — Local Government Professionals Aotearoa (formerly SOLGM) is the national organisation that supports and develops local government professionals in New Zealand.”

Auckland Council quits LGNZ

Auckland:Auckland Council has quit Local Government New Zealand, Mayor Wayne Brown questioning its value after seeing hundreds of members ‘‘getting p….. all night long’’ at its conferences.

Mr Brown used his casting vote to pass the measure after the vote was split 10-10 at yesterday’s council meeting.

LGNZ is a representative group for local government across New Zealand and provides advocacy and support for local councils.

Mr Brown said membership of LGNZ, was costing about $640,000 a year. — RNZ

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Dunedin lags NZ on many economic indicators.

“Vandervis’ growth comparisons draw criticism” ODT 9/3/23

A more informative headline would have been ‘Councillors in denial as Vandervis lists lagging economic indicators’

From our factual Infometrics agenda I quoted a long list of graphically highlighted facts showing Dunedin lagging behind NZ averages, often for decades:

Population growth lagging since 1997.

Household income.

General earnings.

Annual average employment growth lagging behind NZ for 20 years.

Self employment rate lagging at far below NZ average.

Dunedin 2022 productivity was 15.3% lower than NZ average…

If we do not even recognise our economic lags, we are not well positioned to fix them.

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Disability Politicking clarified.

It appears that Mr Ford, “kaituitui, or community connector for the Disability Issues Advisory Group” had not consulted Group representatives before making a personal complaint to Council about my appointment as Chair of the Disabilities Group as reported in the ODT.

There was no ‘We’ as Ford claimed and was reported…

“We raised concerns with the council about the chairing of DIAG, and are pleased to see that these concerns have been taken on board.”

Today’s ODT letter to the Editor brings some welcome clarity to what actually happened.

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Disability Politicking.

I accepted Mayor Radich’s suggested extra role of Chair of the Disabilities Group because of my 18 years experience as the father of a severely disabled autistic son and being part of the disabled support organisations community.

This seems not to be enough for disabled Mr Ford, who played politics in the 2016 Mayoral election including denying the fact that a severe speech disability limits a speaking role such as a City Councillor.

“Mr Ford said the assembly would ask the council to ensure the chair or co-chair of the group was a disabled person.”

The Perry/Timmings claim that I said ‘Perry should not run for Council because of his speech disability’ was a 2016 election campaign falsehood that the ODT repeated again today.


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This FB post got 66 shares in one day.

Lee Vandervis

Shared with Public

We may never know what made Jacinda jump or who emptied her tank, but Chris Trotter’s 3 Waters insights hint at part of what has been going down.

Chris Trotter:

Blowing off the froth – why Chris Hipkins must ditch Three Waters

Worth sharing


THERE’S FROTH, AND THERE’S BEER. What we see happening on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds every 6 February, not to mention the political performance-art on the lower marae, is froth.

The beer of Māori-Pakeha relations is to be found in the private meeting rooms of Waitangi’s Copthorne Hotel & Resort, where the National Iwi Chairs Forum (NICF) deliberates in secret upon Maoridom’s next moves. It is there, in the days leading up to Waitangi Day, that New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, will either face down the men and women driving the stake of co-governance into the heart of the Settler State – or see Labour spiral slowly to defeat.

The designation “Iwi Chairs” seems so innocuous. It conjures up the image of a roomful of corporate bureaucrats working their way through a very boring agenda, and breaking-off every now and then to listen to equally boring presentations from bankers, accountants and the occasional politician.

In reality, the NCIF represents the High Command of Maoridom: the strategic hub of the campaign to take back control of Aotearoa from its Pakeha conquerors. Those gathering at the Copthorne are not a bit like the rag-tag groups of Māori nationalist activists that came together in the 1970s and 80s. If tino rangatiratanga means “the power of the chiefs”, then these are the chiefs who wield it.

Thanks to thirty years of Treaty Settlements, the NICF is both well-positioned and well-resourced to flex its muscles. Between them, the iwi represented at the Forum command assets valued in the billions.

That buys them all the big law firms and all the big lawyers they need. It buys them top-of-the-line lobbyists and public relations experts. It buys them influence in the news media and the universities. It means that, when the NICF whistles, serious politicians from all the major parties tend to come running – up to and including prime ministers.

In short, the NICF is what you get when you don’t want hundreds-of-thousands of working-class Māori demanding their fair share of the national cake. An uprising of marginalised urban Māori (the primary focus of Māori political agitation in the 1980s) could hardly avoid inspiring an even larger number of marginalised Pakeha.

Such a potent socio-economic alliance would be extremely harmful to capitalism and other exploitative creatures. Hence the Crown’s inspired prophylactic against the further radicalisation of the Māori working-class – the Treaty Settlement Process.

Make a handful of Māori aristocrats and other assorted high-flyers rich and powerful, and not only can they then be relied upon to keep the urban Māori poor quiet, but also to co-opt anyone of a mind to stir them up.

For a while.

The great risk of re-establishing a well-resourced and powerful indigenous elite is that, a generation or two later, those responsible will be faced with confident, highly educated young Māori who can think of no good reason why they – the privileged beneficiaries of the Treaty Settlement Process – should continue to provide a buffer between the heirs of their colonial conquerors and the tens-of-thousands of Māori families made poor, and kept poor, by colonisation.

What’s more, this generation will evince no interest in constructing a Māori-Pakeha working-class alliance against either Pakeha Capitalism or the Neo-Tribal Capitalist sub-system brought into being by the Treaty Settlement Process.

The generation raised under this ethnically charged neo-liberal regime will not be socialists, they will be ethno-nationalists. If wealth is to be redistributed, it will not be from the rich to the poor, but from the descendants of the Pakeha colonisers to the descendants of the colonised Māori.

It will be a revolution driven by race, not class.

There could be no better example of the policies generated by the iwi elites and their political representatives than the project known as Three Waters. Putting Private Members Bills to one side, it is rare to encounter a piece of legislation so closely associated with and shaped by a single member of Cabinet – in this case, the then Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta.

Nor is it common to see a legislative project preceded by an advertising campaign subsequently condemned as both misleading and inaccurate. The Labour Government’s decision to reverse its earlier affirmation that local authorities would be free to opt-out of the scheme only compounded the ethical problems besetting Mahuta’s project.

At the forefront of these was the legislation’s commitment to “co-governance”. In the midst of structures specifically designed to protect the relevant “entities” from all forms of democratic accountability, the legislation located a body split 50/50 between members supposedly chosen to represent the interests of local consumers, and those indisputably chosen to represent the interests of local iwi.

NZ First’s Shane Jones’s description of Mahuta’s Three Waters Project was typically robust:

What was initially an attempt to fix some drinking water has turned into a highly divisive and pulverising social experiment that has got nothing to do with poo pipes and infrastructure. Now it’s got everything to do with whether or not tribes should have a superior right [over water].

Jones also argued that Jacinda Ardern’s government had “lost control” of Mahuta’s project:

She was unable to control Nanaia Mahuta, who has proven to be one of New Zealand’s most divisive politicians that God ever put breath into.

Nowhere was Ardern’s loss of control more evident than in the parliamentary debacle which followed the last-minute, constitutionally-dubious, attempt to entrench “anti-privatisation” clauses in the legislation setting up the Three Waters project as it neared the end of its passage, under urgency, through the House of Representatives.

If ever a project needed to be abandoned completely, and the rebuilding of New Zealand’s drinking, storm and wastewater infrastructure reconceptualised in ways that keep it both affordable and accountable, then that project is Three Waters.

Not that the Iwi Chairs gathered at the Copthorne Hotel are likely to see it that way. Mahuta’s project had brought them closer to Jones’s “superior right” over water than any of her predecessors. Their message to Chris Hipkins is likely to be blunt: repeal Mahuta’s legislation at your peril.

New Zealand’s new Prime Minister knows that the National Iwi Chairs Forum has the means to make life very difficult for his government. Notwithstanding their objections, however, Hipkins’ direction of travel – already clearly signalled by his very public demotion of Mahuta – must be confirmed by an emphatic and unequivocal pledge to repeal the Three Waters legislation and start again.

If Labour is to secure a third term, then Hipkins must make it clear to all New Zealanders – Māori and Pakeha – that his government is not about fulfilling the agendas of corporate/tribal elites. It is about making sure that every New Zealander in need of a job, a living wage, and a warm, dry house, gets one. That their family’s right to publicly-provided, quality health care and education is not denied. And that the promise of equality, enshrined in Article Three of the Treaty of Waitangi, is kept.

Because that’s the only beer that’s electorally fit for Labour to drink: the beer of class – not race.

Everything else is froth

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Before and after pics of our vintage Hillside-built cooler carriage restoration Christmas holiday project that we milled the macrocarpa for…

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No doubt Tremain will inflame, but he is insightful all the same.

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69th Dunedin to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Who would have dreamed that a hundred+ year old American 14 litre fire-engine could be rebodied into a 100mph+ racing car, and today took off from our Octagon for the 69th Dunedin to Brighton Veteran Car Run?

Thanks to all the wonderful enthusiasts and their veteran vehicles including some that were steam powered.

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DCC Planning and Spending based on Presumed Growth

Against DCC modeled predictions, a net loss of 2,000 people voted with their feet to leave Dunedin for other parts of NZ last year, when the rest of NZ population is growing at 1%.

We need to know why: to help arrest the decline and to be able to plan appropriately for actual growth.

One clue as to why people left has subsequently been available by looking at age. “The estimated population decline over 2020-22 was predominantly driven by a net loss of residents aged 20-29. This is the age group that is traditionally more mobile.”

Regarding our student population “datasets suggest that the net decline in Dunedin residents aged 20-29 is not predominantly caused by overall tertiary education trends…”
Another clue may be the 2021 DCC Residents’ Opinion Survey:
Largest decreases in satisfaction in 2021 to 2020

  • Satisfaction with cleanliness of streets (down 16 points to 48%)
  • Satisfaction with DCC supporting Dunedin’s economic development (down 15 points to 32%)
  • Satisfaction with the performance of Mayor and Councillors (down 15 points to 25%)
  • Overall satisfaction with the DCC (down 14 points to 40%)
  • Satisfaction with the look and feel of the central city retail area (down 14 points to 51%)

The DCC can not afford to keep borrowing in an increasing interest-cost environment, to spend on supplying infrastructure for growth that is not happening.

DCC models for growth have been wrong for the last two years, and hoping for high growth when the data shows unexpected decline should cause us to investigate causes and review projections and budgeted spending.

The DCC 2022 graph ‘rebased growth projection’ ignores any reasons for the prior 2 year decline and restates the previous optimism by simply adjusting the starting point downwards.

The ODT report below lists various levels of Councillor denial.

“Councillor wants to know why people have left


A DUNEDIN councillor says the city needs to work out what it has done to ‘‘scare off’’ people to other parts of New Zealand.

The latest population data shows a recent drop and then lower projected growth than had been anticipated, prompting two councillors to declare they believed higher growth would materialise and one to be labelled a grinch.

A report for the council about housing capacity noted Dunedin lost an estimated 2400 residents between July 2020 and June 2022.

‘‘We need to figure out what it is we have done here in Dunedin to essentially scare off quite a significant number of people to other parts of the country,’’ Cr Lee Vandervis said.

Higher population projections were used when some key council documents were shaped, such as the 2021-31 long-term plan.

The population drop for Dunedin was mainly a consequence of migration within New Zealand, the council was told at a meeting this week.

Cr Vandervis speculated possible factors included the city having a less business-friendly rating system, or differential, than other centres, ‘‘divisiveness in the past few years about how Dunedin develops’’ and a generational schism.

‘‘I look forward to getting some more information, as has been promised, on who left and hopefully that will give us some idea of why.’’

His commentary contrasted with views offered by several other councillors, most notably Christine Garey and Andrew Whiley.

‘‘I have great faith in this city and I believe we’ll hit that high-growth target again,’’ Cr Garey said.

Cr Whiley, who highlighted the Covid-19 pandemic and immigration settings to help explain recent data, was frustrated population trends and projections about capacity needed for housing seemed to signal underwhelming ambition or vision.

‘‘I see faster growth for our city,’’ he said.

Cr Vandervis said he felt like a grinch, an assessment endorsed by Cr Jim O’Malley, and Cr Vandervis reflected on Cr Whiley’s optimism.

‘‘It’s fairly well established that optimists have happier lives, but pessimists have a better grasp of reality,’’ Cr Vandervis said.

The council is using the Statistics New Zealand medium-level scenario for population change to help shape policy about capacity for housing and business growth.

Factors in the mix include recently relaxed housing development rules, zoning changes, environmental imperatives, adjusted population projections and the pipeline of expected work, potentially including public housing.

The council was on track to go close to planning for a high-growth scenario, city development manager Dr Anna Johnson said.

Cr Garey was one councillor who said it was prudent for the council to be nimble, enabling planning for high growth, should this be needed.

Cr O’Malley said the council needed to be in a position where it could respond to growth.

The council endorsed using a medium-growth scenario, as well as adding in some strategic planning, such as having a sharper focus on community and social housing aspirations.

The Otago Regional Council adopted the same approach.

Cr O’Malley said this did not get in the way of high-growth ambition.

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said the population ‘‘blip’’, together with housing capacity and scope for improvement in productivity, presented opportunities for the city.

It could increase use of technology to better harness the efforts of the population and its ‘‘brain power’’. grant.miller@odt.co.nz

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From today’s Economist magazine:

The world of long-predicted rapidly rising interest rates and inflation is upon us… Opportunities to reduce Dunedin City Council vulnerability are still available. – my personal view.

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Still no media coverage of the extraordinary content of the DCC ‘updated’ Maori Memorandum of Understanding.

The vast majority of Council voted for the new revision of the DCC 2006 Maori MoU.

In my view the vast majority of Dunedin citizens would not have approved had they been given the chance to know what this new binding agreement commits the DCC to.

One example – “Te Pae Māori will also be enduring and not subject to change by a simple majority of Council.”

This is anti-Democratic and should have been identified by staff as one of many disadvantages of a new group/relationship set-up that will never be able to be to changed by a Council majority vote.

Meeting video of Item 7 follows:


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Inaugural Council meeting.

The Inaugural Council meeting went like a well-scripted Coronation, with the only departure being an embarrassing motion from Cr. Laufiso and the now gang of four wanting to modify Councillor pay rates to a different unequal range on a claimed basis of equality.

Less-halting speeches in Maori showed that some had been diligently practicing, Aaron eulogies were especially overwrought, and the full audience seemed well-pleased with the apparent change in leadership and hoped-for changes in DCC direction.


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