How long must Dunedin suffer its DCC Companies?

DCC Council Companies to remain in the too-hard-basket?

Seven years. It has been seven years since our Dunedin Council-controlled Companies have provided us with a dividend from profits. 

Many decades of many millions invested in our Council Companies have given us little but massively increased debt since our last dividend in 2015.
Even those dividends before 2015 were often debt-funded, like the $10 million ‘Special Dividend’ that was needed to push Stadium construction funding over the line, later revealed to have been facilitated by Company borrowing of $13 million. 

Transparency, and clearly identifying what our DCC problems are the best ways of beginning to solve those problems in my experience.

The status quo does not like change or solutions that involve loss of jobs-for-the-boys or the derailing of traditional gravy trains, but our current course and annual $100 million increase in debt is unsustainable.

So why is the DCC amassing so much debt despite record rates increases of many times the rate of inflation, and why no DCC Company dividends? 

Local Directorships, some exceeding the 3 term limit are part of our Companies’ problems as the recommended use of independent non-local Directors has usually been ignored.

Easy profits from City Forests have been used to subsidise our incompetently run Lines Company Aurora and Infrastructure Company Delta, who for far too long shared the same board of directors that gave fat Aurora maintenance contracts to Delta making both companies top-heavy and inefficient on the backs of Otago electricity users.
Worse, Aurora indulged in the public ownership disease of short-termism, failing for decades to maintain its electricity distribution network resulting in failures of everything from power-poles to transformers and cables that should have been replaced decades ago. On-going electrical supply and safety failures, some fatal, have resulted in the Commerce Commission fining Aurora $5 million, but both the Cull and Hawkins Councils have looked the other way, instead spending on pet planet-saving cycleway projects while DCC Group debt has increased by nearly $100 million every one of the last 3 years. 
  

DCC spin has allowed our $1.2 BILLION combined Company and DCC Debt to look less by only highlighting DCC book debt of around $400 million, having bounced our Stadium debt into the Companies’ books to keep up appearances. 
The DCC has also found many ways of subsidising the loss-making Stadium to make things look less worrying in Annual reports. 
These annual subsidies include: Event attraction funding, local event discount funding, a special Stadium rates differential, and an annual purchase of $2.55 million of Stadium shares by the DCC despite DCC already owning 100% of Stadium shares – and this is described in DCC accounts as “Investment”! 
The annual total of this accounting duplicity is close to $9 million every year for a Stadium that struggles to get a major event for many months at a time and won’t even do that once Christchurch Stadium is available.


What to do?
1 – Admit and clearly identify the problems: 
The DCC has failed to control or get returns on our massive investment in our Council Controlled Organisations. Like the Cull Council, the Hawkins Council has left our companies in the too-hard-basket, preferring to borrow instead.

The Stadium has ludicrously high $9 million+ annual DCC subsidies to keep it inflated with few events and fewer forecast.
Council Companies still fail to deliver dividends or proper rates of return after 7 years of massive injections of borrowed capital that were supposed to make them profitable.
The DCC has lumbered Council Companies with $2.5 million annual losses just to delay inevitable decisions on Taieri Gorge Railway and keep it mothballed for each of the last 3 years.
City Forests has been conjuring profits from revaluations and carbon credits rather than just efficiently harvesting timber.
The Hawkins’ Council itself has gone on an unprecedented spending spree on transport changes and cycleways including George st that will amount to more than $150 million of unsustainable spending on unproductive investments. 

2 – Obvious solutions include: stopping or deferring cycleway and transport changes saving $150 million. Prevent City Forests from buying further farms for forestry carbon credit speculation and get them selling more trees more efficiently.
Accept that the Taieri Gorge Railway line to Middlemarch with its 37 bridges is beyond anybody’s ability to maintain safely and let a limited main-trunk line service be run locally or by an outside company if a local service cannot break even.
Get new independent outside directors for Aurora and Delta and explore partial sell-off of the Central Otago lines area for which there is competitive interest.
Spend $1 million on a low-maintenance tough artificial turf for the Stadium so that it can be used daily, cut staff overheads and allow the main ground to get used constantly by local sports/events groups. It will still lose millions but at least we will get good community use out of it.

With rapidly rising interest rates, world tensions, and cost of food, Dunedin Council must make hard decisions and make them now. We must prevent further decision delay on DCC Company restructuring, Taieri Gorge Railway, Sammy’s, Mayfair, Athenium and Fortune Theatres, groynes, the One-Way system, and a Unitary Council. 
A lot of talk about Dunedin’s potential will only be realised by decisive informed course-corrections over the next 7 years.

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Kiwi Voice Mayoral Candidate Interview

https://fb.watch/fLoVi97-dm/

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Thefts of Election Signage and Tandem Trailer

STOLEN TANDEM TRANSPORTER TRAILER with 2.4m double-sided election signage attached on scaffolding tube at night-time from 35 Portsmouth drive outside NZ Couriers Depot. Trailer tow-ball was padlocked. Z537N number plate likely changed by now.

Distinguishing features include black strong scaf-tube construction, ally platforms, ladder-rack style ramps, led lights and hand winch.

Police have had no leads for over the last week.

Trailer needed for many farm tasks, as pictured.

Also stolen on many nights in recent weeks are 11 other placards, 2.4 metres long as pictured below,

from Burnside to Pinehill and many places between, some very well attached requiring time and tools and presumably a large van to take them away…

Any info or leads please phone Police or Lee 021-612340

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After more than a year of sending graph data to the ODT…

Good to see the ODT putting DCC debt facts on the front page and including the Council meeting video in which Mayor Hawkins accuses me of being rude.
Not included were important details on my ‘pushed over’ placard – that DCC Companies have not returned a dividend since 2015, and that we now pay near $1 million in interest-only every week on DCC Group Debt.

https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/vandervis-questions-debt-levels

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Labour is trying to confiscate our biggest local Asset

3 Waters is actually 3 Kinds of Pipes that we in Dunedin have all long paid for, as Hilary Calvert writes:

Let’s ask the right questions now for those communities struggling for healthy water, writes Hilary Calvert.

Otago towns, the pipes the pipes are calling, from reservoirs and down towards the sea …

The first issue with the three waters debate is that it isn’t about waters. It is about pipes and other infrastructure.

The water is a natural treasure of New Zealand. The pipes are bought and paid for by local ratepayers. There is no sense in which they belong to anyone other than the local people, who paid for them so that all citizens could have piped fresh water, piped storm water and pipes taking our sewage to be treated and released.

Once we accept that it is the pipes, we can talk about who should own them. Usually those who pay for something own the something. If the Government removes ownership of assets we would call this nationalisation, something which tends to be done in unstable and desperate countries with a weak grip on democracy.

What actually happened in the current Government proposal was that we were told if the will of the people as expressed by their local government representatives did not want to give them up Government would not require them to. However it turns out that when local government representatives were not all supportive we were told that it would happen by force.

It appears that several thoughts were behind this backtracking manoeuvre.

The notion of nationalising the pipes was proposed to solve the problem that some communities are struggling to produce clean water in and to dispose of dirty water appropriately.

The Government could sort this problem by providing funds and if necessary taking over the operation of the pipes in such areas.

However the Government has decided that the 80% of local authorities in New Zealand who are looking after themselves will have to have their pipes taken over also, since the economies of scale sold as an inevitable result of a centralised structure would not happen.

If Bruce Munro’s “voices” (ODT, 10.9.22) are correct, there is also a fear that a nationalised pipe ownership structure could be sold to private interests. An answer to this, according to the voices, could be for mana whenua to be co-owners of the pipes, the assumption being they would never allow these assets to be sold.

Both these assumptions founder on one basic truth. The Government can change anything it wants and fund anything it wants at whatever level it wants. It can also change the ownership structure of anything in New Zealand, as it knows, since it is doing precisely that with the pipes.

Sharing ownership of nationalised assets with mana whenua does not take them out of the Government’s clutches. While we have a democracy where all New Zealanders have one vote for the government who will form a majority, the elected government on the day can do what it will.

As for economies of scale, these can of course happen, even when the Government is involved. Think Pharmac for example. However even if Pharmac can get drugs more cheaply as a central purchasing authority, the Government can refuse to provide Pharmac with the funds it needs to allow us to have drugs which are taken for granted as available in most other comparable countries.

The Government may not starve the new pipe owners of money, since the money will apparently come from the same ratepayers as it always did.

There will be a major difference however: the rates will be required of us by an owner who is entirely unaccountable to those it rates. Any transparency is unlikely, since when the Government takes over there appears no temptation to engage in sharing what is going on. (Think the new health authority and its chief providing a comment along the lines of he was not put on this earth as some sort of occupational therapy for journalists when he was asked for answers to some basic questions.)

The backtrack seems also to have came about as a result of the Government believing that local authorities think short term and keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to renewing pipes and improving the quality of what flows through them.

While this may have happened in the past, the Government has been putting out an ever-increasing series ofrules intended to improve water quality.

Local authorities are spending millions, attempting to comply with these. Any deficiencies in the outcomes are as likely to be because of the confusing nature of the rules and the ever changing requirements as they are to be because local authorities are dragging their feet.

When voting comes, and all the people make their choices, if they are gone, as gone they well may be …

It will be no comfort saying an Ave for previous politicians. We need good answers to the problems of some communities struggling to cope with the pipes needed for healthy water and a healthy environment.

Let’s ask the right questions now.

— Hilary Calvert is a councillor on the Otago Regional Council but is not standing for re-election.

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Mayoral Candidate interview – Kiwi Voice 26 minutes

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rgvrDmXEBvNScImyhW5TGcJkaGgwvz14/view?usp=sharing

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Labour Political Party Puppets

Labour Political Party Puppets Pledge on Dunedin City Council?

Ever wondered why Council Candidates boosted on to the DCC by Labour vote as a block with central government policy on major issues like MP Mahuta’s 3 Waters proposed confiscation of Dunedin’s $3 BILLION 3 Waters assets?

The Labour Party Constitution updated 2020 requires all Candidates to sign this pledge.

Note “(f) If elected I will vote on all questions in accordance with the decisions of…a duly constituted meeting of Party representatives on such a body”

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ODT ‘reporter’ Grant Miller continues his smear campaign today

falsely claiming that I “publicly highlighted the pensioner’s home address details” referring to a Ms Parsons who has repeatedly interrupted my campaign speeches and pushed my DCC Group Debt graph signage to the floor at a public Mayoralty meeting. Miller previous wrote that rival candidate Mayhem-Bullock “rushed over and asked if Cr. Vandervis was picking on a little old lady.”

It turns out that this claimed little old lady was in fact an accomplice Mayoral nominator for Mayhem-Bullock, evidence for which I have made public on social media as below, without highlighting any part of the public Electoral document.

Had I redacted any of the document details, no doubt I would have been accused of interfering with or withholding public information…

https://alliedpress.smedia.com.au/otago…/Default.aspx

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A combative interview that still brings out real DCC issues finally, despite being too long. [1hour 38 minutes]

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UNSUSTAINABLE $1million PER WEEK DCC INTEREST-ONLY ON SKYROCKETING DEBT

The ODT don’t want you to know that DCC Group Debt has gone up by $100 million every year under Hawkins and is planned to keep going!, with Dunedin citizens having to pay $1million per week in interest-only to overseas banks.

DCC Companies don’t help, having failed to deliver a dividend since 2015, and interest rates are predicted to rise by another 100 basis points before Christmas.
My proposed solutions are in the ODT Opinion Piece below.

This is the graph the ‘little old woman pushed over’ that our monopoly print media won’t let you see…

From: Lee Vandervis <lee@vandervision.co.nz>
Date: Saturday, 3 September 2022 at 6:22 PM
To: EditorODT <editor@odt.co.nz>
Cc: Grant McKenzie <grant@alliedpress.co.nz>, Grant Miller <grant.miller@odt.co.nz>, “Nicholas. Smith” <nicholas.smith@xtra.co.nz>, “Julian. Smith” <julian.smith@alliedpress.co.nz>
Subject: ODT Opinion piece – DCC Council Companies to remain in the too-hard-basket?

Dear Editor,

I know that we are heading into election run-up, so all the more reason to print this opinion on what to do with major DCC issues.
One opinion under my name will not be unbalanced considering the weekly headline stories ex Mayor Hawkins.
Offer Jules an opinion spot if you think there may be a bias issue…

Anyway, please consider the following opinion for publishing along with the revealing updated graph attached.

Cheers,

Lee

DCC Council Companies to remain in the too-hard-basket?

Seven years. It has been seven years since our Dunedin Council-controlled Companies have provided us with a dividend from profits. 

Many decades of many millions invested in our Council Companies have given us little but massively increased debt since our last dividend in 2015.
Even those dividends before 2015 were often debt-funded, like the $10 million ‘Special Dividend’ that was needed to push Stadium construction funding over the line, later revealed to have been facilitated by Company borrowing of $13 million. 

Transparency, and clearly identifying what our DCC problems are the best ways of beginning to solve those problems in my experience.

The status quo does not like change or solutions that involve loss of jobs-for-the-boys or the derailing of traditional gravy trains, but our current course and annual $100 million increase in debt is unsustainable.

So why is the DCC amassing so much debt despite record rates increases of many times the rate of inflation, and why no DCC Company dividends? 

Local Directorships, some exceeding the 3 term limit are part of our Companies’ problems as the recommended use of independent non-local Directors has usually been ignored.

Easy profits from City Forests have been used to subsidise our incompetently run Lines Company Aurora and Infrastructure Company Delta, who for far too long shared the same board of directors that gave fat Aurora maintenance contracts to Delta making both companies top-heavy and inefficient on the backs of Otago electricity users.
Worse, Aurora indulged in the public ownership disease of short-termism, failing for decades to maintain its electricity distribution network resulting in failures of everything from power-poles to transformers and cables that should have been replaced decades ago. On-going electrical supply and safety failures, some fatal, have resulted in the Commerce Commission fining Aurora $5 million, but both the Cull and Hawkins Councils have looked the other way, instead spending on pet planet-saving cycleway projects while DCC Group debt has increased by nearly $100 million every one of the last 3 years. 
  

DCC spin has allowed our $1.2 BILLION combined Company and DCC Debt to look less by only highlighting DCC book debt of around $400 million, having bounced our Stadium debt into the Companies’ books to keep up appearances. 
The DCC has also found many ways of subsidising the loss-making Stadium to make things look less worrying in Annual reports. 
These annual subsidies include: Event attraction funding, local event discount funding, a special Stadium rates differential, and an annual purchase of $2.55 million of Stadium shares by the DCC despite DCC already owning 100% of Stadium shares – and this is described in DCC accounts as “Investment”! 
The annual total of this accounting duplicity is close to $9 million every year for a Stadium that struggles to get a major event for many months at a time and won’t even do that once Christchurch Stadium is available.


What to do?
1 – Admit and clearly identify the problems: 
The DCC has failed to control or get returns on our massive investment in our Council Controlled Organisations. Like the Cull Council, the Hawkins Council has left our companies in the too-hard-basket, preferring to borrow instead.

The Stadium has ludicrously high $9 million+ annual DCC subsidies to keep it inflated with few events and fewer forecast.
Council Companies still fail to deliver dividends or proper rates of return after 7 years of massive injections of borrowed capital that were supposed to make them profitable.
The DCC has lumbered Council Companies with $2.5 million annual losses just to delay inevitable decisions on Taieri Gorge Railway and keep it mothballed for each of the last 3 years.
City Forests has been conjuring profits from revaluations and carbon credits rather than just efficiently harvesting timber.
The Hawkins’ Council itself has gone on an unprecedented spending spree on transport changes and cycleways including George st that will amount to more than $150 million of unsustainable spending on unproductive investments. 

2 – Obvious solutions include: stopping or deferring cycleway and transport changes saving $150 million.

Prevent City Forests from buying further farms for forestry carbon credit speculation and get them selling more trees more efficiently.
Accept that the Taieri Gorge Railway line to Middlemarch with its 37 bridges is beyond anybody’s ability to maintain safely and let a limited main-trunk line service be run locally or by an outside company if a local service cannot break even.
Get new independent outside directors for Aurora and Delta and explore partial sell-off of the Central Otago lines area for which there is competitive interest.
Spend $1 million on a low-maintenance tough artificial turf for the Stadium so that it can be used daily, cut staff overheads and allow the main ground to get used constantly by local sports/events groups. It will still lose millions but at least we will get good community use out of it.

With rapidly rising interest rates, world tensions, and cost of food, Dunedin Council must make hard decisions and make them now. We must prevent further decision delay on DCC Company restructuring, Taieri Gorge Railway, Sammy’s, Mayfair, Athenium and Fortune Theatres, groynes, the One-Way system, and a Unitary Council. 
A lot of talk about Dunedin’s potential will only be realised by decisive informed course-corrections over the next 7 years.

Cr. Lee Vandervis

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Smear set-up exposed

Rival Mayoral candidate Mandy Mayhem and 80 year old ‘woman’ turns out to be Ms Parsons, Mayhem’s Mayoral nominator.

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A well-timed ODT smear,

who have long refused to print my revealing DCC Debt graph.

Rival Mayoral Candidate Mandy Mahem asked “if Cr. Vandervis was picking on a little old lady?” The answer is that I simply told this seated serial interrupter in the crowded room at the end of the meeting that if she continued to troll and interrupt my campaign speeches as she did twice that night and again in a previous campaign meeting, I would public out her continuous trolling.’ Her rude and interrupting behaviour and pushing my DCC Group Debt graph signage to the floor warranted this response after the meeting ended in my view.

I note that “almost spitting” actually means not spitting at all, and that “in her face” is not possible when she was siting and I was standing…

https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/fear-my-belly-over-vandervis-confrontation?fbclid=IwAR3UJI8zuFme7-NNGpTutP-SGa2j3jDvRapBaLvyjnMHsfP0kKtDUTzOvrY

The Debt graph that our local monopoly print media have long refused to print.

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Who do I think would be a good candidate?

I am getting thIs request regularly now, so below is the list of those I have met and been impressed by:

Jules Radich is still my favourite Councillor [despite going soft on stopping 3 Waters Government/Iwi confiscation], also Jim O’Malley, Sophie Barker, Andrew Whiley, Carmen Houlahan, and newbies Cherry Lukas, Lynette Scott, Cheryl Neil, Brent Weatherall and Kevin Gilbert.

For ORC: Michael Laws, – the others seem ineffectual or invisible to me.

I have seen too little of Community Board candidates to be able to suggest them with confidence – hopefully you will know them better in your local areas.

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Only the financially illiterate can do this:

Strange that the big numbers in Dunedin’s $300 million annual DCC spend of our money don’t seem to register with most candidates.

A largely left-leaning audience at Opoho Church last night were lapping up Mayor Hawkins’ claims to have been instrumental in getting our new $1.5 Billion Hospital centrally sited [sited on Dunedin’s most expensive not big enough swampy land without checking to see if could take the weight of a 12 story building or have underground carparking] but they were uninterested or uncomprehending of my summary of the unsustainable $100 million of new debt the Hawkins Council has added each year on top of unprecedented rates rises of 9.8% and 5.6%.

Tonight’s Opoho meeting was similarly left-leaning with many Labour/Green candidates singing Hawkins’ praises, but also many in favour of Mayoral aspirant Sophie Barker.

The ‘progressive Dunedin and $1.5 Billion new hospital asset’ Hawkins’ mantra was echoed again, but nobody mentioned any percentages or interest costs or the $3 Billion proposed government/Iwi confiscation of our 3 Waters assets, or other big numbers like the $15+ million deferred line maintenance or $7.5 million cost of moth-balling Taieri Gorge Railway so far, which all candidates wanted retained at some level.

source documents as below
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Stop 3Waters confiscation + 2 minutes of Mayoral Debate

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ODT unfavourable reporting as voting papers posted out.

What do you do when you’re branded?

Losing the Supreme Court attempt to clear my name, or being upfront about my personal views was always going to weaken my Mayoral chances, but I believe it had to be done and I have no regrets for trying or for my choice of Len Andersen as my lawyer. We did what we could and the Law failed us.

Personal financial costs of as yet unknown tens of thousands of dollars are painful but it would also have been painful just to roll over and accept the gross injustice of being anonymously cancelled by DCC Bureaucracy.

https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/supreme-court-parking-ticket-appeal-refused?fbclid=IwAR14B5NeqL8AUnnoI8wLoaRO4QTSjE4x_L_Tp2M267MmdDg1OPPEXs6u7M0

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ODT favourable reporting

of the mood of the full Burns Hall Ratepayer’s Mayoralty meeting last night gelled with my impressions as seen from the stage.

https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/dcc/cheers-vandervis-hawkins-absent-forum?fbclid=IwAR3BKPpGNnTBYU1eL8JGURrWlqBUHFiHg-vJomAF_KE5-91xcPF_-B15MC0

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ODT Reporter’s ‘personal assessment’ of elected representatives.

I am proud to have debated against so much wasteful debt-funded spending by the Hawkins’ Council, and against the erosion of Democracy with creeping co-governance, even if I was often the only one daring to vote against.

The ODT reporter’s ‘personal assessment’ as below did not surprise me given his coverage of DCC meetings.

Below is the DCC Group Debt graph that the ODT has refused to print.

“Lee Vandervis 5

A contrarian. Cr Vandervis is in his comfort zone when the council is headed for another 14-1 vote. Where other councillors tread warily, tiptoeing around such territory as scepticism of the merits of co-governance, Cr Vandervis jumps in. He often defends his corner pugnaciously, particularly if the interests of motorists are threatened. His effectiveness may have waned in a political environment where he looks at risk of becoming outmoded. If his opponent in a debate is Aaron Hawkins, Cr Vandervis can be beaten to the punch. He is also exposed if there is a councillor gang-up. Still, his presence or absence makes a significant difference to the atmosphere of a meeting. He can be relied upon to rail against Three Waters reform, debatable council spending and the council’s ballooning debt, as well as group debt, which includes debt of council-owned companies. Any mention of “Maori” by him sets much of the room on edge. He was at one stage trespassed from the council building after he resisted Covid-19 vaccine passes. A confrontation with the deputy mayor led to a censure for conduct deemed to be intimidating. He has continued this term to pursue vindication through the courts after a censure for his behaviour relating to an objection about parking meter signage. He has at least dabbled in the realm of conspiracy and some voters may judge he has been distracted.”

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CLARIFICATION

I am adding ‘in Dunedin Ownership’ to accessible posters to make my opposition to the government/Iwi attempted theft of Dunedin’s 3Waters [$3 BILLION drinking, drainage and waste-water] assets clear.

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Saturday’s ODT p6 favoured me with good information on my election billboard design as follows:

• Campaign signage for Dunedin candidate Lee Vandervis includes a nod to Hollywood and a photo of the South Seas Exhibition, which Dunedin hosted in 1925-26.

The Otago Daily Times asked Cr Vandervis what this imagery signified.

The Hollywood-style font is a reference to musician Frank Zappa and his line about politics being the entertainment branch of industry, and for Cr Vandervis it denotes some suspicion of old-boys’ networks.

And the exhibition?

“A little less than 100 years ago Dunedin had the talented people and vision to create the extraordinary South Seas Exhibition on the back of high productivity, close to where our underused stadium now sits,” Cr Vandervis said.

The council of the day put a small surcharge on the tram ride to the exhibition, “which paid for our main town hall to be built without going into large debt to build it”.

Dunedin still had a remarkable range of talented people, but a vision for progressive, innovative industry had lately been lacking, he said.

The colours of Otago and Ukraine appear — “a warning that the world economy is under threat and that we need to look to our own resources to maintain our quality of life in Dunedin”.

Now you know.”

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