ODT 2013.1

Editorial, photos and pictures of persons related to articles are those published by the ODT and available from its online content at the links provided. Break out quotes and voting information amended in table format are my tweaks.

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No borrowing to pay dividend, DCHL says

By Chris Morris on Wed, 27 Feb 2013

Dunedin city councillors have again been reassured the days of Dunedin City Holdings Ltd companies borrowing to help fund dividend payments to the council are over.

Questions about future borrowing were raised when councillors considered updated statements of intent for DCHL and its subsidiaries at this week’s full council meeting.

Councillor Richard Thomson queried DCHL’s statement, which forecast an annual dividend from it to the council of $4.29 million for the next three years. That was part of overall cash payments totalling $15.7 million each year, including interest and subvention payments, from DCHL and its subsidiaries to the council in the years to 2015-16.

However, Cr Thomson wondered how DCHL could meet its dividend payments without borrowing, when its overall operating surplus for each of the next three years was below the expected dividend payments for the same period.

Projected surpluses were all below the $4.29 million dividend projected, at $4.188 million in 2013-14, $1.578 million in 2014-15 and $2.310 million in 2015-16.

At the same time, it appeared the holding company’s shareholders funds were expected to decrease by a ”suspiciously” similar amount to the gap between the two other figures, Cr Thomson observed.

Those funds were forecast to drop from $13.140 million in 2013-14 to $8.518 million in 2015-16.

Cr Thomson said councillors were assured by DCHL it would no longer borrow to help fund dividends to the council.

The figures prompted him to question whether DCHL’s subsidiaries could borrow internally to enable them to boost dividends to the required level.

DCHL director Graham Crombie said that would be an ”interesting” strategy, but not one the companies were pursuing, while DCHL chief executive Bevan Dodds went further.

Mr Dodds said the ”year to concentrate on” was 2013-14, where the difference between projected surpluses ($4.188 million) and dividend payments ($4.29 million) was ”very close”.

He was confident that small gap could be bridged by the end of the financial year on June 30, although it would still be close.

Projections for later years still contained ”a lack of clarity” and needed more work, and were ”reasonably conservative” at this stage, he said.

He expected dividends from ”at least two” of the holding company’s subsidiaries would increase in the meantime, and the projected numbers for later years would change ”quite significantly” when more detailed budgets were completed.

Cr Lee Vandervis welcomed the fresh assurance but wondered if that left the door open to asset sales, including the sale of some of the subsidiary companies, to bridge the projected gap.

”Is this an alternative for meeting a dividend not out of profit . . . and not out of borrowing?

Mr Crombie said the answer was no, as ”that’s not what flows through these numbers”.

Any decision to sell assets would be a ”totally different piece of policy”, he said.

The review of DCHL by Warren Larsen, completed in 2011 following a shortfall in DCHL dividend payments to the council, had suggested asset sales might be needed to address rising council debt levels.

DCHL had also launched a review of its company assets last year, results of which were yet to be made public.

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Vandervis accused of electioneering attack on staff

By Chris Morris on Tue, 26 Feb 2013

Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis has been accused of electioneering after turning a procedural item at yesterday’s Dunedin City Council meeting into an attack on council staff.

Tensions began to rise at the meeting when attention turned to the 2013-14 draft annual plan, which councillors had to approve before it could be released for public consultation.

Instead, Cr Vandervis and told the meeting the draft, as it stood, did not have his ”full confidence”.

That was because of the quality of recent reports by council staff to councillors, as well as the ”diabolical” handling of the sale of Carisbrook, he said.

He cited the ”enormous” variation in figures presented to councillors about the sale of Carisbrook as one example of the ”convoluted” reports that left him with ”an increasing level of distrust”.

”The distrust has been getting worse for more than a year now,” he said.

”I no longer have the confidence that we are getting accurate information from staff.”

His comments prompted a retort from Cr Syd Brown, who accused Cr Vandervis of electioneering eight months out from voting day.

”It really concerns me that we are obviously in election year and electioneering has started, but it really concerns me that staff and their ability … is brought into disrepute in debate.

”They are being used as a pawn in someone’s electioneering,” he said.

Instead, Cr Brown praised staff for their work, which was ”of the highest order”, and chided Cr Vandervis for trying to disrupt the council’s consultation with its community.

”If you are going to vote against it, therefore you are saying to the community ‘we don’t want to consult with you’.

”I think the community can then take what they like from the result of that voting pattern,” Cr Brown said.

Cr Vandervis’ comments came after he was banned from talking to council staff in 2011, after giving orders to some – and describing others as ”dogs” – in a series of angry emails. That ban was lifted only in December last year, more than a year after it was imposed.

There were more terse words yesterday when deputy mayor Chris Staynes proposed a series of amendments tweaking the draft plan before it was released for consultation.

The changes included inserting a summary of key changes, more information about stadium debt and the proposed events attraction fund, and a diagram summarising the financial interaction between Dunedin Venues Management Ltd and Dunedin Venues Ltd, among other changes.

The idea raised the hackles of Crs Fliss Butcher and Bill Acklin, who objected to the volume of last-minute changes. Mayor Dave Cull rejected that, saying the draft was circulated last week and any councillor was free to recommend changes at yesterday’s meeting.

Those proposed by Cr Staynes were editorial tweaks, and there was ”nothing untoward or improper about trying to get things right”, Mr Cull said.

Councillors eventually voted to approve the draft plan, including Cr Staynes’ amendments, for public consultation, which would begin on March 9 and close at 5pm on April 9.

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2013-02-16_well_being_-_sue_bidrose

DCC seeks to meet city’s future challenges

By Chris Morris on Sun, 17 Feb 2013

A new strategy for Dunedin that aims to address the challenges of an ageing population, low incomes and poor housing has been signed off by the Dunedin City Council.

Councillors at this week’s full council meeting voted to approve the council’s new social wellbeing strategy, which covered areas ranging from economic, community and city development to transportation.

The document replaced the council’s community policy 1997, which was considered out of date, and provided a new framework within which the council could plan for some of the city’s big challenges, a council staff report said.

The strategy identified ”very significant” social issues facing the city, including an ageing population, with forecasts showing the number of people aged 65 years and over would increase 54% over the next 20 years, from 14% to 20% of the city’s population.

That would, in turn, mean increasing demand for a range of needs, including more social housing and smaller private homes, as well as greater use of health-care and public transport services and a desire for better pedestrian environments, the strategy predicted.

Low income levels within Dunedin, which could lead to poorer health, increased crime and other problems associated with poverty, was another problem that needed to be planned for, the strategy said.

So, too, did the challenges associated with Dunedin’s old housing stock, changes to the allocation of central Government funding and services within the city, and a trend towards less healthy lifestyles.

The new strategy did not include new or additional spending, but set the framework that would allow individual pieces of work to be prioritised to meet the strategy’s overall goals, the council staff report said.

That included setting strategic directions, priorities and implementation pathways that included specific initiatives, such as planning a new ”whole-of-city” approach to housing quality improvement.

The new strategy, more than a year in the making, had been shaped by community consultation and feedback from about 900 people, including through submissions, meetings and the Your City, Our Future and People’s Panel initiatives, the council staff report said.

The new strategy was also part of a push to simplify the council’s planning efforts, under which 48 council strategies and action plans had been reduced to nine key strategies, including for social wellbeing.

Council city strategy and development general manager Dr Sue Bidrose told this week’s meeting the old structure had allowed the council to justify doing ”almost anything”, while the new approach would allow greater focus and better advice from staff to councillors.

Cr Teresa Stevenson was among those to congratulate staff for the new strategy, but said the ”trick to this” would be to ensure it was implemented and did not become another ”dusty old paper” on a council shelf.

Cr Lee Vandervis worried the strategy came at a time the Government’s local government reforms were pushing councils towards tighter control over spending in non-core areas.

However, Mayor Dave Cull said the impact of the reforms on these sorts of initiatives were not yet clear, and councils across New Zealand had to work within ”what we think the legislation means”.

At the end of the debate, councillors voted to adopt the new strategy.

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‘Living wage’ campaign support bid

By Chris Morris on Tue, 12 Feb 2013

The Dunedin City Council is being asked to support the Kiwi Living Wage campaign, despite a warning any pay rise for council staff could backfire for the city’s most impoverished ratepayers.

The campaign, which would be formally unveiled later this week, was expected to include a push to lift the minimum wage from $13.50 an hour to between $18 and $20 an hour.

Dunedin city councillors at yesterday’s council public forum were asked to back the campaign by Service and Food Workers’ Union organiser Ann Galloway.

However, Cr Lee Vandervis warned the council employed a ”significant number” of workers in some areas paid less than $18 an hour, including some library and cleaning staff.

Any pay rise for those council employees would have to covered by rates, meaning a rates rise for all ratepayers, including those already on minimum wages, he said.

”You would simply be taking it from one group of low-wage workers and giving it to another,” he said.

Mrs Galloway said she would be happy to see her rates used in such a way, but accepted it might not be practical to suddenly give council employees a pay rise.

Instead, she wanted the council to be a leader by giving support for the campaign ”in principle”, at the very least, if implementation had to wait.

Speaking earlier, Mrs Galloway told councillors workers needed a living wage to ”survive and participate” in society, and the council – like other employers – could play a role.

That could include giving council staff a pay rise as well as changing the way it used contractors, she suggested.

The council’s procurement policy could be amended so decisions about which contractors the council employed were based in part on whether the companies offered their workers a living wage.

In return, employers like the council would receive benefits such as increased worker morale and productivity, and reduced absenteeism, she said.

At present, 270,000 children were estimated to be living in poverty, of which 40% were from families where at least one parent was in full-time employment, she told councillors.

Mayor Dave Cull told the meeting the council’s procurement policy was already being reviewed by council chief executive Paul Orders.

Mrs Galloway’s suggested changes to the policy would be referred to Mr Orders to consider as part of that work, Mr Cull said.

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2013-02-16_well_being_-_sue_bidrose

Well being strategy adopted

By Chris Morris on Sat, 16 Feb 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/tags/dcc/245893/well-being-strategy-adopted

A new strategy for Dunedin that aims to address the challenges of an ageing population, low incomes and poor housing has been signed off by the Dunedin City Council.

Councillors at this week’s full council meeting voted to approve the council’s new social wellbeing strategy, which covered areas ranging from economic, community and city development to transportation.

The document replaced the council’s community policy 1997, which was considered out of date, and provided a new framework within which the council could plan for some of the city’s big challenges, a council staff report said.

The strategy identified ”very significant” social issues facing the city, including an ageing population, with forecasts showing the number of people aged 65 years and over would increase 54% over the next 20 years, from 14% to 20% of the city’s population.

That would, in turn, mean increasing demand for a range of needs, including more social housing and smaller private homes, as well as greater use of health-care and public transport services and a desire for better pedestrian environments, the strategy predicted.

Low income levels within Dunedin, which could lead to poorer health, increased crime and other problems associated with poverty, was another problem that needed to be planned for, the strategy said.

So, too, did the challenges associated with Dunedin’s old housing stock, changes to the allocation of central Government funding and services within the city, and a trend towards less healthy lifestyles.

The new strategy did not include new or additional spending, but set the framework that would allow individual pieces of work to be prioritised to meet the strategy’s overall goals, the council staff report said.

That included setting strategic directions, priorities and implementation pathways that included specific initiatives, such as planning a new ”whole-of-city” approach to housing quality improvement.

The new strategy, more than a year in the making, had been shaped by community consultation and feedback from about 900 people, including through submissions, meetings and the Your City, Our Future and People’s Panel initiatives, the council staff report said.

The new strategy was also part of a push to simplify the council’s planning efforts, under which 48 council strategies and action plans had been reduced to nine key strategies, including for social wellbeing.

Council city strategy and development general manager Dr Sue Bidrose told this week’s meeting the old structure had allowed the council to justify doing ”almost anything”, while the new approach would allow greater focus and better advice from staff to councillors.

Cr Teresa Stevenson was among those to congratulate staff for the new strategy, but said the ”trick to this” would be to ensure it was implemented and did not become another ”dusty old paper” on a council shelf.

Cr Lee Vandervis worried the strategy came at a time the Government’s local government reforms were pushing councils towards tighter control over spending in non-core areas.

However, Mayor Dave Cull said the impact of the reforms on these sorts of initiatives were not yet clear, and councils across New Zealand had to work within ”what we think the legislation means”.

At the end of the debate, councillors voted to adopt the new strategy.

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‘Living wage’ campaign support bid

By Chris Morris on Tue, 12 Feb 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/245413/living-wage-campaign-support-bid

The Dunedin City Council is being asked to support the Kiwi Living Wage campaign, despite a warning any pay rise for council staff could backfire for the city’s most impoverished ratepayers.

The campaign, which would be formally unveiled later this week, was expected to include a push to lift the minimum wage from $13.50 an hour to between $18 and $20 an hour.

Dunedin city councillors at yesterday’s council public forum were asked to back the campaign by Service and Food Workers’ Union organiser Ann Galloway.

However, Cr Lee Vandervis warned the council employed a ”significant number” of workers in some areas paid less than $18 an hour, including some library and cleaning staff.

Any pay rise for those council employees would have to covered by rates, meaning a rates rise for all ratepayers, including those already on minimum wages, he said.

”You would simply be taking it from one group of low-wage workers and giving it to another,” he said.

Mrs Galloway said she would be happy to see her rates used in such a way, but accepted it might not be practical to suddenly give council employees a pay rise.

Instead, she wanted the council to be a leader by giving support for the campaign ”in principle”, at the very least, if implementation had to wait.

Speaking earlier, Mrs Galloway told councillors workers needed a living wage to ”survive and participate” in society, and the council – like other employers – could play a role.

That could include giving council staff a pay rise as well as changing the way it used contractors, she suggested.

The council’s procurement policy could be amended so decisions about which contractors the council employed were based in part on whether the companies offered their workers a living wage.

In return, employers like the council would receive benefits such as increased worker morale and productivity, and reduced absenteeism, she said.

At present, 270,000 children were estimated to be living in poverty, of which 40% were from families where at least one parent was in full-time employment, she told councillors.

Mayor Dave Cull told the meeting the council’s procurement policy was already being reviewed by council chief executive Paul Orders.

Mrs Galloway’s suggested changes to the policy would be referred to Mr Orders to consider as part of that work, Mr Cull said.

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Waipori Fund debated

By Chris Morris on Wed, 30 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/244045/waipori-fund-debated

The Dunedin City Council could switch the way it budgets for income from its Waipori Fund investments, despite concerns ratepayers could be left with a bill.

Councillors at Monday’s 2013-14 pre-draft annual plan budget meeting considered a report on the fund by council finances and resources general manager Athol Stephens.

His report suggested the council could obtain more from the $74 million fund if the mix of investments in equities, bonds and a building was changed.

A stronger emphasis on property investments could generate an extra $350,000 a year for the council’s coffers from 2013-14, he said.

It was a boost councillors were now already budgeting for, following other decisions made on Monday to accelerate stadium-related debt repayments.

The fund had, over the last decade, generated average yearly returns of nearly $3.2 million for the council, reducing rates by about 3% each year. The fund grew from $57.4 million to $74.5 million over that period.

Mr Stephens’ report considered three options for the future of the fund, from selling the fund to pay back council debt, to lending funds directly to the council or investing more heavily in property providing higher returns.

Councillors supported the greater emphasis on property, but Cr Jinty MacTavish went further.

Instead of forecasting returns and budgeting for them, she wanted council staff to investigate taking proceeds from investments only after they were earned.

Her suggestion won support from deputy mayor Chris Staynes, although he doubted it could be implemented ”any time soon”.

Cr Syd Brown, chairman of the council’s finance, strategy and development committee, was more concerned, saying it would be achievable only if the council took a ”breather” from the fund’s income for a year.

That would result in ratepayers facing an extra 4% rates hike to cover the shortfall from the fund for a year, he warned.

Cr Lee Vandervis suggested the fund could yet be cashed in to repay council debt, saying the council should look ”at what may be done with the Waipori Fund versus the debt that we carry”.

Cr MacTavish stuck to her guns, saying the change would remove risk and uncertainty for the council’s budget.

However, she suggested a transition over years could also be investigated, to ease the burden on ratepayers.

”I would like to think we could do it sometime in the next decade,” she said.

Cr MacTavish also asked for changes to the fund’s policy document, including an emphasis on the need to protect its capital over the long term, to ensure the fund’s survival.

Councillors voted to accept the recommendations, including Cr MacTavish’s requests.

The change would be part of the draft annual plan to be released for public consultation in March.

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2013-01-29_2_1m_boost_for_stadium

$2.1m boost for stadium

By Chris Morris on Tue, 29 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/243945/21m-boost-stadium

The company running the Forsyth Barr Stadium is in line for a multimillion-dollar cash injection from the Dunedin City Council – including a new events fund – that seems set to drive the next rates increase up to 4%.

Councillors yesterday backed the plan to spend more than $1.7 million extra each year reducing stadium-related debt, subject to public consultation in the coming months.

That would drive rates up to the self-imposed 4% limit, but would also slash at least $25 million from interest payments over the life of the loans.

It would also help Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, which runs the stadium, to turn a profit for the first time, rather than continuing losses created by the requirement to service stadium loans from its revenue.

The company would also be backed by a new events attraction fund worth $400,000 a year, which would be used to offer incentives to lure more major international acts to the stadium, councillors indicated.

The fund would be paid for initially from within council budgets allocated to economic development and Tourism Dunedin, which were together worth about $2 million a year.

Councillors also wanted to consider a new targeted rate, perhaps focused on the city’s tourism and hospitality sectors, to pay for the fund in future years.

The decisions are not final, but came as councillors yesterday completed initial debate on the council’s 2013-14 pre-draft annual plan ahead of schedule.

A draft budget would be approved for public consultation at the next council meeting on February 25, after which ratepayers would have the chance to deliver their verdict on the proposals.

Council chief executive Paul Orders and his staff had earlier delivered a pre-draft budget that proposed a rates increase of just 2.8%, well below the targeted increase for 2013-14 of no more than 4%.

That left councillors to decide how best – if at all – to spend the $1.4 million of ”headroom” available, which Mayor Dave Cull wanted invested in initiatives delivering greater savings for the city.

By yesterday afternoon, more budget tweaks – including changes to fees and charges and an adjustment of the Waipori Fund investment strategy – meant the available sum had grown by about $400,000, to $1.866 million.

That set the scene for the long-awaited report into DVML’s finances – following a detailed review by Dunedin City Holdings Ltd – presented to councillors yesterday by DVML chief executive Darren Burden.

The report spelt out the options, including a do-nothing approach which Mr Burden warned would see DVML continuing to post annual losses of up to $350,000, exhausting the company’s resources and eventually leading to a call for more council funding, anyway.

Mr Cull, responding to the report, recommended allocating most of the money to stadium debt repayments, spread across DVML and Dunedin Venues Ltd, which owns the stadium.

DVML would get $725,000 a year for the next four years to repay debt associated with some of the stadium’s removable seating, new stadium vision technology and pitch machinery.

The money would be on top of the extra $750,000 a year given to the company last year, as part of a new service level agreement, and came after the company posted a $3.2 million loss for the 2011-12 year.

However, the extra cash would allow DVML to clear its debts within four years, meet its obligations and post small profits in the years to come.

DVL would get another $1 million a year on top of that, accelerating the repayment of more substantial stadium construction debts and saving $25 million over the life of the loans.

The exact sum available for DVL debts would depend on returns from the Waipori Fund and would be reviewed annually, councillors decided.

Of the rest of the $140,000 available, $50,000 would be used to support a new breakwater at Te Rauone Beach, on Otago Peninsula, and $90,000 would be used to continue support for projects in the heritage warehouse precinct.

The council also planned to convert $3.381 million in earlier cash advances by the council to DVML – which had covered DVML set-up costs – into paid up share capital, in a non-cash transaction, councillors decided.

The $400,000 events fund would also allow the stadium to target more headline events, boosting revenue for the company and bringing wider economic benefits to the city, councillors accepted.

The debate that followed was limited in part because Cr Lee Vandervis was prevented from speaking, on a technicality, after failing to indicate his intention to speak until it was too late.

Cr Teresa Stevenson questioned why stadium debt was being targeted, rather than debt from another project, such as the Tahuna wastewater treatment upgrade.

Mr Orders said that was because core council debt was being addressed as part of the council’s long-term plan, which set a target of debt to $200 million by 2021-22.

However, the size of stadium debt held by DVML and DVL still represented a ”significant source of risk” for the council group over the next five to 10 years, he said.

”You reduce the risk to council in general more by paying off DVL debt than by paying off Tahuna debt,” Mr Cull added.

Councillors voted to include the spending in the draft budget, meaning the 2.8% rates rise would increase to about 4%, if left unchanged.

Cr Vandervis voted against the extra spending.

Extra spending plans

$1.865 million to be spent on:

  • Dunedin Venues Management debt ($725,000 a year, next four years)
  • Dunedin Venues Ltd stadium debt ($1 million a year*)
  • $50,000 for Te Rauone Beach breakwater, 2013-14 only
  • $90,000 for Warehouse Heritage Reuse Fund, 2013-14 only
  • Total: $1.865 million(* Subject to Waipori Fund return and annual review)

As well:

  • $400,000 stadium events attraction fund
  • Funded from existing council budgets in 2013-14
  • ouncil to consider target rate to pay for fund in future years

Related: Call for stadium events fund backed

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2013-01-29_restructuring_of_marketing

Restructuring of marketing into single agency recommended

By Debbie Porteous on Tue, 29 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/243937/restructuring-marketing-single-agenc…

The Dunedin City Council is to consult ratepayers on restructuring the city’s tourism marketing, city marketing and i-Site functions into a single city marketing agency, nominally called Destination Dunedin.

The reshaped Tourism Dunedin would not initially include events marketing or business development.

City councillors at yesterday’s pre-draft annual plan hearing considered the proposed restructure, as outlined in a report from the council’s general manager of city strategy and development, Dr Sue Bidrose.

She said the recently adopted economic development strategy for Dunedin stated that in broad terms of branding and marketing, the city needed to evolve from primarily selling the city to visitors and students, to attracting public and private investors, skilled people and entrepreneurs.

Transferring marketing activities to a single marketing agency that co-ordinated tourism, events, investment, skills and migrant promotion and attraction efforts was one of eight initial projects in the strategy.

With regards to events marketing, there was a need to improve co-ordination of bidding and marketing of key events and an obvious overlap with the management of the key council venues that hosted events, those things could be resolved without changing the existing structure.

Considerable work was under way examining event attraction and marketing with Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML), and with the Town Hall yet to be completed and Dunedin Venues Ltd (DVL) still relatively young, the suggestion was that the current structure be left to allow time to measure the results.

The council’s economic overview, business support and industry development roles could also potentially be part of the new entity, but remained within the city council in the meantime while its role was still critical in the delivery of the eight key projects of the strategy.

The integration of city marketing to the new agency would not include the marketing of council-owned facilities such as museums, libraries, the art gallery and botanic gardens etc, nor the running of council-run events, council meetings, civic functions etc, which would remain in-house, she said.

Asked by Cr Lee Vandervis why the council’s whole marketing team was not being rolled into the new agency, Dr Bidrose said that was considered, but those staff were solely focused on the council’s own facilities and events and to move them out of their home agency made no sense.

Councillors generally agreed with the proposal, although said they would like to see stronger links between the council-owned company and the council, including more frequent reporting.

One of the weaknesses of Dunedin in recent years, deputy mayor Chris Staynes said, was that it had failed to gain traction outside Dunedin, about what Dunedin was about as a city.

”We need to strengthen that. The impact of getting marketing right is significant.”

He cited Wellington as a city that was marketing itself right and said Dunedin needed to get a campaign going that worked as well as that, if not better.

”We need to get [Dunedin] known for what it is best at.”

The council supported the proposal and agreed it should be consulted on in the draft annual plan.

The agreed that if the marketing restructure went ahead, it would be reviewed in 2015.

The final name of the new agency is yet to be determined.

Following consultation, staff will report back to the council on May 13 with a recommendation on whether and how the restructure should proceed and the details of any implementation plan.

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2013-01-29_peninsula_residents

Peninsula residents in plea for breakwater

By Debbie Porteous on Tue, 29 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/243939/peninsula-residents-plea-breakwater

The Dunedin City Council will invest up to $50,000 in a breakwater at Te Rauone if its own assessment of the project stacks up.

And it would consider taking ownership of the groyne only once it understood what it could potentially be liable for in the future.

It could also require the private property owners who would benefit from the erosion protection the groyne should offer, to pay for its ongoing maintenance, possibly through a targeted rate.

The tiny settlement on the Otago Peninsula took up nearly two hours of councillor discussion time during the pre-draft annual plan hearing in Dunedin yesterday. Residents of Te Rauone have been trying to get the council, which owns a reserve among their properties, involved in the beach erosion issue for more than 10 years.

Port Otago has proposed it should construct a breakwater at Te Rauone that would protect both private properties and the reserve.

The residents have offered to pay for half of the about $160,000 construction cost, and have asked the council to pay the other half and take ownership and future maintenance responsibilities for the groyne.

Councillors yesterday agreed that, pending positive outcomes from the council’s own investigations of risks and costs related to the project, it would contribute a proportionate amount, up to $50,000, to the installation of the groyne.

If the review was favourable, it would then identify an ownership structure that met its concerns about liability, ongoing maintenance, sea level rise effects on the groyne, land owners involved, a confirmation of charging mechanisms, including, possibly a targeted rating scheme, and any other risks of council involvement.

Cr Paul Hudson started the debate by urging councillors to make a decision, and not leave Te Rauone residents with uncertainty for another year.

”We have sat on our backsides and our hands regarding this issue since 1993, when residents first approached the ORC and DCC, but even at that stage it was clear ORC did not want to be involved … Please, whatever we do, decide it has to be in this year’s [2013-14] annual plan, so the residents threatened by the seawater are clear about what the decision is.”

Whether the council should spend ratepayer funds to protect private properties, possibly setting a precedent concerning protecting private properties from erosion from the sea, was the main concern around the table.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said she, as the ward councillor for the affected area, had given the complex situation much thought and decided the council should not take any responsibility for protecting private properties from the sea. Given the predicted sea level rise, it would bankrupt the council.

She was supported by Cr Lee Vandervis, who said the council should be giving ”a clear indication to these people, and residents in other outlying areas like Aramoana, Te Ngaru etc, that we are simply not able to turn back the sea and simply not able to save their properties.”

Mayor Dave Cull said if the council was to accept the responsibility for protecting all private property from sea level rise, ”the debt from the stadium would look like chicken feed”.

”We all acknowledge the council does not have an obligation to private landowners, but protecting the reserve will cost us something, anyway, at some level, and I can accept a composite deal is acceptable. However, I am very concerned about precedent.”

Cr Richard Thomson said he wanted to know whether the council’s public liability insurance would cover and unintended consequences from the breakwater before he could be happy with taking ownership of the groyne.

He also raised the issue of a targeted rating to cover the long-term maintenance costs.

Cr Bill Acklin said he had listened to the Te Rauone community’s pleas for the past 18 months and the problem was beyond their control.

Deputy mayor Chris Staynes said the matter was complicated by the fact the residents who would benefit were the people who had over the years built their own protections, which were, in turn, accelerating the erosion of the reserve.

”My view is the situation will not go away because sea rise will continue. It is time for the residents to understand putting in a groyne is a short-term solution.”

Although they were concerned about the short period of time for large amount of work the council sought, council staff agreed to report back to the community development committee by March.

The proposal will be open to feedback from the public, during the consultation period on the draft 2013-14 annual plan.

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2013-01-29_call_for_new_stadium_events_-_darren_burden

Call for new stadium events fund backed

By Chris Morris on Tue, 29 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/243940/call-new-stadium-events-fund-backed

Dunedin city councillors support a new $400,000 annual fighting fund to lure more major concerts, and the millions of dollars of extra spending that comes with them, to Dunedin.

The move came during the Dunedin City Council’s 2013-14 pre-draft annual plan meeting yesterday, as councillors also signalled a targeted rate could be used to ensure businesses helped pay for the fund in future.

The moves – subject to public consultation over the next few months – came after Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive Darren Burden yesterday presented the case for a new fund to councillors.

He argued the extra spending would generate returns that helped boost DVML’s revenue, but would also bring millions of dollars in extra spending to the city’s bars, restaurants, hotels and other businesses.

Mr Burden told councillors DVML did not yet have a good reputation for offering the type of support promoters were looking for, and could not rely on the stadium’s reputation alone to compete with other centres.

Dunedin had already missed out on some events without the fund, and, even now, DVML had deals ”on the table” for two major concerts that could be secured if an events fund was already in place, he said.

One of those was a ”substantial” international concert, but the promoter was looking for up to $600,000 in support to offset the cost of transporting equipment to Dunedin, he said.

That could be reduced by negotiation, but typically promoters wanted support because of the millions of dollars their events would inject into the city’s economy, he told councillors.

His arguments ran into opposition from Cr Lee Vandervis, who questioned whether stadium events delivered additional economic benefits or largely moved money around within Dunedin.

Mr Burden disputed the latter, citing an economic impact report on Sir Elton John’s stadium concert, estimated to have contributed $14 million to the city’s economy.

The exact figure could be disputed, but with half the 35,000-strong crowd for the show coming into Dunedin from elsewhere, returns for the city were ”in that sort of ballpark”, he said.

Crs Kate Wilson and Richard Thomson agreed, saying their businesses had recorded substantial increases in turnover at the time of Sir Elton’s concert, and other businesses would, too, in future.

At present, music fans who could afford to were flying to other centres to attend concerts, taking ”considerable sums of money” out of the city, Cr Thomson said.

Those who could not afford to fly were forced to miss out, he said.

”For me, this is actually about delivering real benefit to our region,” he said.

Cr Syd Brown hoped the ”modest” extra investment would allow the stadium, and the city, to ”punch above our weight”.

”I’m quite confident we can.”

Other councillors also supported the move, including deputy mayor Chris Staynes, who said even if the economic impact of shows like Sir Elton’s was only half what was claimed, it was still ”a pretty good investment”.

Mayor Dave Cull stressed any fund was not designed to ”prop up” the stadium’s finances, but rather to deliver wider economic benefits for the city.

Mr Burden said the sum required, of $400,000 a year, was based on discussion with council staff and promoters about the level of support needed.

Each year’s allocation could be spent supporting one or more events, but the aim would be to generate a profit for DVML as well as returns for the city’s economy, he said.

Each deal with a promoter was also ”unique”, and, for example, meant underwriting could be offered that required a promoter to return DVML’s incentives if ticket sales went beyond a certain point.

Council chief executive Paul Orders said money for the new events fund could, for 2013-14, come from the council’s economic development and Tourism Dunedin budgets, meaning no additional pressure on rates.

The council was already reviewing those budgets, which were together worth about $2 million a year, to align them with the city’s new economic development strategy, he said.

Councillors also voted to reconsider the size of the existing tourism and economic development targeted rate, opening the door to an increase to help pay for the events fund, following a suggestion by Cr Jinty MacTavish.

The work would lead to a report in time for next year’s budget meetings.

Related: $2.1m boost for stadium

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2013-01-26_reform_threat_-_michael_garbett

Reform threat to companies raised

By Chris Morris on Sat, 26 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/243717/reform-threat-companies-raised

Fears reform of the local government sector poses a serious threat to the Dunedin City Council’s group of companies and their activities are to be investigated.

The concern was raised at yesterday’s council 2013-14 pre-draft annual plan meeting, as councillors considered a legal briefing on the reforms from lawyer Michael Garbett.

Mr Garbett warned the reforms sought to focus councils on the provision of local infrastructure, services and regulatory functions in the most cost-effective manner for households and businesses.

However, a lack of definition around some of those key new phrases meant the council faced a greater risk of legal challenges.

Responding to questions from Cr Lee Vandervis, Mr Garbett said the changes could also have an impact on council-owned companies.

That included previous decisions by Delta – a council-controlled organisation (CCO) – to invest in property at Jacks Point, at Queenstown, and Luggate, which led to a $7.5 million write-down last year.

Mr Garbett agreed local government reforms would constrain similar investments in future, due to the uncertainty created by references to ”local” in the revised legislation.

Such terminology lacked definition, and could lead to legal challenges by individuals or groups contesting council activities they believed went beyond the purpose of the reforms, he warned.

Cr Paul Hudson – the former chairman of Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL) – said that would have ”very serious financial implications” for the council’s group of companies, which operated outside Dunedin. He called for a written legal opinion on the implications for the companies, but Mayor Dave Cull suggested the council and DCHL look into it first.

It might be that the companies’ ability to maximise profits, and therefore dividends to the council, from operations outside Dunedin meant they were operating in the most cost-effective manner, as required by the reforms, Mr Cull said.

Cr John Bezett was also concerned, saying the council’s investments in property and other areas outside Dunedin provided significant benefits. Whether the reforms constrained that type of activity needed to be sorted out quickly. Mr Garbett said the reforms were forward-looking, but whether existing activities could also be constrained ”needs to be looked at carefully”.

He doubted it would, in practice, prevent investment beyond a council’s territory, but the lack of definition within the reforms ”creates uncertainty that we haven’t previously had”.

”There’s that issue about what is local? . . . someone will have to figure out, in the absence of an answer in the Act, what is the answer?” An attempt by Cr Vandervis to draw out Mr Garbutt’s views on whether the Forsyth Barr Stadium could have been built under the new rules was blocked by Mr Cull.

Cr Vandervis wanted a written opinion on that, and the implications for similar future projects, but Mr Cull ruled he was not prepared to ”waste council money finding out what might have happened three years ago”.

Councillors voted to amend their decision-making templates, so future decisions clearly considered the purpose of the revised legislation.

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2013-01-05_neil_collins

Councillors reveal election year priorities

By Chris Morris on Sat, 5 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/241470/councillors-reveal-election-year-pri…

Dunedin city councillors are entering election year promising to push for more disciplined spending, debt reduction and even a merger with the Otago Regional Council, before turning their attention to the ballot box.

However, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has become one of the first to confirm he will stand again, seeking a second term as mayor.

At the same time, the city’s longest-serving incumbent councillor, Neil Collins, has confirmed he will step down at the election, while Cr Lee Vandervis is considering a high-spending bid to unseat Mr Cull.

Cr Collins yesterday told the Otago Daily Times he would not stand again at the next ballot on October 12.

His retirement would end a council career which stretched back to 1989 and made him the longest-serving incumbent councillor.

”I think it’s time to allow other people to step in,” he said.

Most other councillors spoken to were reluctant to reveal their hand yet, preferring to wait until mid-year before confirming any decision.

However, Cr Vandervis – who stood unsuccessfully for mayor at the last election in 2010 – said he was leaning towards another mayoral bid, as well as running for a council seat again.

He claimed he had already been approached by a ”fairly wealthy individual” offering to fund his campaign if he agreed to run for mayor again.

Cr Vandervis would not name the person, and said the amount of money on offer had not been discussed, but the person had ”substantial” resources.

”It would take some pretty serious sponsorship for me to go seriously after Cull. He remains very popular,” Cr Vandervis said.

The Local Electoral Act set campaign spending limits based on population, and in Dunedin meant mayoral candidates were limited to $55,000.

That meant ”the wallet can only be so much use”, Mr Cull said when told of Cr Vandervis’ comments.

Of those contacted yesterday, only Mr Cull, deputy mayor Chris Staynes and Cr Teresa Stevenson would confirm they planned to stand again, while Cr Kate Wilson said she would ”more than likely” join them.

Crs Vandervis, Bill Acklin, Richard Thomson and Colin Weatherall all said it was too soon to make a decision.

Crs John Bezett, Paul Hudson, Jinty MacTavish, Syd Brown and Andrew Noone could not be contacted.

Neither could Cr Fliss Butcher, although she has previously said she would join Cr Collins in stepping down in October.

Asked about priorities for the coming year, councillors identified the annual plan budget hearings beginning later this month as a key focus.

Mr Cull said it would be ”reasonably challenging” to achieve the hoped-for rates increase of no more than 4% for 2013-14.

”That’s just as much a challenge this year as it was to get [down] to 5% last year,” he said.

Despite that, the council also needed to find room for positive initiatives, like improvements to the heritage warehouse precinct, cycling infrastructure and economic development strategy initiatives, as well as pursuing new deals in Shanghai, he said.

Cr Acklin said this year’s annual plan would be a key focus as councillors battled over what to retain or remove from the budget.

He wanted the council to be more active in support of job creation, such as the establishment of an oil and gas support base in Dunedin, and hoped to see progress on the city’s aquatic facilities and Logan Park upgrade.

”Some people would say those things are luxuries, but … I think that’s what the city is here to provide.”

Cr Collins said he would be keeping ”a very close watch” on the council’s finances and rates increases, which needed to remain affordable.

”That should be all councillors’ priorities.”

Cr Thomson agreed, saying he wanted rates increases kept within the 4% goal set for 2013-14, while ensuring the city’s economic development strategy was ”up and running”.

”It’s really key to the future of this city.”

Cr Stevenson said she wanted to see more council funding used for job creation initiatives, such as home insulation work.

Cr Vandervis said he would be pushing for a merger of the city council with the Otago Regional Council to reduce duplication, thereby cutting costs, and use the savings to help pay for Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Cr Weatherall said this year’s annual plan would be ”critical” given the squeeze on council budgets.

”There’s a whole lot of demands, but obviously not a lot of spare cash.”

Cr Staynes agreed, saying rates needed to be kept at the promised level, to free up cash for debt reduction, while Cr Wilson said her focus would also be on debt reduction.

”We have to get on top of the debt … If we haven’t heard that message yet then I’m not quite sure what we need to be hit with to understand it.”

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2013-01-01_ups_and_downs

Ups and downs, but no worries

By Nigel Benson on Tue, 1 Jan 2013

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/240897/ups-and-downs-no-worries

It was the year that had a bit of everything. A bit like most other years, really. Nigel Benson looks back on 2012.

Dunedin wakes up with a New Year’s Day hangover, but feeling rather smug.

The driest December since 1918 has brought the best weather in New Zealand, while heavy rain and floodwaters sweep the rest of the country.

It’s also an auspicious start to the year as Dunedin artist Ralph Hotere is made one of 20 members of the Order of New Zealand.

It’s January 6 and David Bain makes his annual pilgrimage to Dunedin to visit friends and have a dip in the St Clair Salt Water Pool.

”He is regularly up and down,” advocate Joe Karam says.

The TravelwireAsia website names Dunedin as one of six ”must see” destinations in 2012.

Dunedin is also revealed as the best place in New Zealand to pull off a bank robbery, after police admit that more than 25% of police who failed their firearms test were from the Southern region.

Dunedin City councillor Lee Vandervis does his bit for South Island relations by suggesting businesses in quake-stricken Christchurch should up pegs and move to Dunedin. This doesn’t go down very well in Christchurch.

January 11 and Dunedin police constables Mal Parker and Ray Stevic miss firearms practice to usher seven ducklings off the Southern Motorway at Green Island.

Two 20-somethings are caught climbing up the outside of the La Maison brothel.

”It was not clear why they were climbing up the building,” Senior Sergeant Brian Benn says.

Vampire attraction

Otago University offers a paper about vampires at Summer School.

”There’s something appealing about living forever and having supernatural strength and never ageing,” course lecturer Garth Cartwright says.

All 36 places are quickly taken.

It’s a Black Friday for euthanasia campaigner Sean Davison, who has a brick thrown through the window of the friend’s house where he is serving his home detention sentence.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull talks asset sales on January 16, as city debt hits a high of $327.4 million, more than 10 times what the city owed in 1999.

More than 7000 people flock into Dunedin on January 19 from three cruise ships.

DMVL debate
Dunedin Venues Management Ltd announces it has ”no chance” of meeting its annual $2 million rates bill. Councillors say ”no worries” and give the company a 93% discount. Problem solved.

That afternoon, the DCC decides to borrow money from itself to ease money woes. Mayor Cull says if council falls behind in payments, ”it will have to discipline itself”.

However, the DCC reluctantly backs down on a cunning plan to charge community groups and schools $16 for holding charity sausage sizzles.

The Otago Peninsula Community Board warns that cruise ships may soon have nothing to visit, as they are causing peninsula erosion inside Taiaroa Head.

The Ministry of Economic Development announces it has now recovered $2 million of the $15.1 million convicted fraudster Michael Swann stole from the Otago District Health Board.

Which means he will make about $2 million for each year he spends in jail. Nice work if you can get it.

February 6 and an over-zealous security guard decides to extinguish the New Zealand Masters Games torch after a passing motorist notices a flame inside Foobar Stadium.

An economic impact report shows the Elton John concert pumped $14.1 million into the Dunedin economy.

However, the next day, DVML chief executive David Davies announces 2012 will be ”a thin year” for concerts.

Dunedin philanthropist Malcolm Cameron is announced 2012 Senior New Zealander of the Year. Everyone agrees it’s a top honour for a top bloke. Dunedin City Holdings manages to dig up an independent consultant who reckons the directors deserve a 200% rise in their fees. The directors giggle and wring their hands, but realise they’ll never get away with it.

Rugby controversy

The Otago Rugby Football Union begs for a bail-out after announcing it is $2.35 million in the red and unlikely to field a team in the 2012 comp.

Former player and coach Laurie Mains steps up to the plate and offers his help to ”find a way forward”.

That turns out to mean suing Mayor Cull for $1 million, because Mains and ORFU chairman Wayne Graham believe he said something mean about the ORFU.

A few days later, it emerges the ORFU held a $25,000 booze-up before admitting it was heading for liquidation. The bill is not paid, of course. Everyone says ”sorry” and ”no worries”.

Staff at Dunedin Botanic Garden talk pest control after students invent a game called ”Possum”, which involves sitting up a tree and drinking beer until they fall out.

The story goes so viral that most internet images of possums now show drunk University of Otago students lying under trees.

It’s March and it’s cold, after 113mm rain in February – double the normal rainfall. The rest of the country reminds us how smug we were in January.

Former Every St newspaper boy David Bain gives his first interview since his retrial.

”I wasn’t there. I’m innocent,” he says. No worries.

Otago University reveals it has killed 25,000 animals in ”research and teaching purposes” since 2010.

It’s March 14 and the DCC writes off $500,000 of ORFU debt.

Naked touch

Naked Christchurch artist Audrey Baldwin licks her way out of a toffee box at the Dunedin Fringe Festival.

Panelbeaters rub their hands together with glee when the new give way-rules come in on March 25, while University of Otago genetics student Josh Stewart lands in the record books after throwing a paper dart 30.1m.

Crime in New Zealand hits a 15-year low in April, with Otago one of the safest places to live.

Foobar is named one of five international venues of the year.

War veterans are abused in the streets for hawking Chinese-made poppies, but a huge crowd of 10,000 watches dawn break on Anzac Day at Dunedin Cenotaph.

Dunedin Hospital emergency department head Dr Tim Kerruish resigns as clinical leader, saying inadequate staffing levels made his position ”untenable”.

A couple of weeks later, the Southern District Health Board reveals doctors’ salaries are $865,000 over budget.

Milton teenager Karn Forrest is the first driver to have his car crushed under new boy racer legislation, but he pulls a swifty and swaps his 1982 Toyota DX for an old dunger. Police are not amused, but everyone else thinks it’s pretty funny.

Plans unveiled to turn Dunedin’s one-ways into two-ways. Panelbeaters who missed out during the give-way rule change start rubbing their hands together again.

Job seekers

It’s April 27 and 1343 people apply for 100 jobs at the new South Dunedin Countdown.

Dunk-a-cop is most popular event at Dunedin Central police station open day. Inspector Alistair Dickie is the biggest bobby, taking 15 duckings.

Police arrest 10 Mongrel Mob entrepreneurs who have used Whanau Ora Charitable Trust funds to finance a $100,000 cannabis operation.

The DCC announces a $1.9 million loss for the first half of Foobar’s 2011-12 financial year and reveals the $198 million stadium is actually going to cost $224.4 million. Lots of mumbled ”sorries” and ”no worries”.

English supergroup Coldplay gives cold shoulder to proposed Foobar gig, because Dunedin Airport is too short to accommodate a Boeing 747.

Hotel announced

A Chinese-financed $100 million luxury hotel is announced for the Steamer Basin. Redundant anti-stadium campaigners angrily throw the blanket off their knees.

The Otago Settlers Museum realises no-one can see the locomotive in its flash new glass case because it could not afford non-reflective glass.

The University of Otago is in the pink, announcing assets of $1.4 billion – more than any university in the country – and an operating surplus of $26 million for 2011. A university study shows ”ageing and less physically active” police are struggling to pass their physical competency test. This includes gruelling tasks like climbing through a 1m-high window and running around traffic cones spaced 30m apart.

Hillside for sale

KiwiRail announces Hillside is for sale.

Dunedin crown prosecutor Robin Bates takes the law into his own hands, chasing thieves in his pyjamas after ”two intoxicated students” take off with a recliner from his inner-city home.

Niwa reports sunniest April on record, exceeding 180 sunshine hours for the first time since records began in 1948.

Dunedin MP Michael Cullen gleefully accepts a knighthood, 12 years after his Labour cabinet agreed to wipe titular titles. He chuckles into his sleeve and says ”sorry” and ”no worries”.

The Otago Settlers Museum will be called Toitu. Nobody is sure what it means, but it looks nice.

Stadium events

Audit New Zealand warns stadium debt may lead to rates hikes, increased debt levels and service cuts in Dunedin.

Promoter Rob Fitzpatrick announces he is bringing the Rolling Stones to the stadium. It later transpires it is actually a rodeo that is coming. But things are on a roll as the Dunedin Rotary Club inks a multimillion-cent deal to hold a Sunday market at the stadium.

Dunedin holiday park owners are advised to buy rice cookers to increase their share of the Chinese tourism trade.

Newsweek magazine, which claims a readership of 14 million, asks University of Otago student magazine Critic to design the cover for its July 14 issue. Dunedin police call for a detox centre after a 20-year-old female student covered in glow paint and vomit is found hypothermic near the wharf at 1.30am.

The following weekend, a university church group mobilises a courtesy van, equipped with sick bags and two volunteers in high-visibility vests.

Buddhists announce the Dalai Lama will appear at Foobar on June 11.

Leaky home nightmare

After stonewalling for more than a year, the DCC finally does right by a young Dunedin family trapped in a leaky home nightmare. The DCC signed off on the $550,000 Glenleith house and issued it with a code of compliance certificate, but refuses to take responsibility when it is certified as a leaky home.

After 15 months of ducking and diving, it reluctantly concedes defeat. But only if it doesn’t have to say sorry and the settlement is hushed up. But the lawyers are happy. Which is nice.

Doc staff rescue a seal at Lovers Leap that has a red G-string wrapped around its neck.

Maori Hill School pupil Tom Gold (9) wins his dream job and the envy of his friends when he is appointed an official toy-tester.

A Dunedin Hospital audit reveals that only half the staff are washing their hands.

”Disturbing,” says board member Richard Thomson.

A few days later, Dunedin Hospital is at full capacity with ”seasonal illness and higher than normal levels of staff sickness”.

A year after Foobar is built and experts were advising the grass wouldn’t grow very well, the DCC finds the grass isn’t growing very well and proposes to spend $1 million replacing the mixed grass with artificial grass.

You reap what you sow.

KiwiRail announces on August 25 Hillside will be closed if it can’t be sold.

Dunedin woman ”grossed out” after finding a bird in her $4.49 salad from Countdown in Andersons Bay. Countdown says ”sorry”.

Foobar meister David Davies announces his resignation and heads back to England ”to be with his family”, which is nice.

DVML considers more than 100 candidates, before walking down the corridor and picking operations manager Darren Burden. It then announces a $1.9 million loss for the first six months.

Paul quits

Otago Museum chief executive Shrimrath Paul quits after 22 years for Indonesia. His $310,793 package was the highest museum salary in New Zealand.

Canadian judge Ian Binnie decides David Bain is probably not guilty of murder and recommends a compensation claim of up to $2 million.

The 102-year-old steamship Te Whaka is scrapped after restoration project fails. A record 88 cruise ships carrying a quarter of a million passengers are scheduled to visit Dunedin over summer.

September 28 and Mayor Cull says sorry for being mean about ORFU. Laurie Mains and Wayne Graham say ”no worries”.

Air miles

An ODT Official Information Act request reveals the University of Otago has spent $68.3 million on travel in four years – the equivalent of 30,000 around-the-world trips from Auckland to London Three days later, the university raises fees by 4% due to ”a perfect storm” of financial pressure.

Tuatara return to the lower South Island on October 17 for the first time in a century when 44 are transferred to Orokonui Ecosanctuary.

The Hollies are confirmed to play at Foobar. Everyone under 70 says ”who?”Easy-on-the-eye Dunedin criminal Daniel Tohill becomes an international celebrity when his 1908 arrest photos are put on the internet. More than 500,000 people check him out, despite the fact he died in 1950, aged 68.

Grown men weep as Hillside Workshops is closed with the loss of 90 jobs, after surviving the Depression and two world wars. Dunedin boutique brewery Emerson’s calls time and sells out to Japanese giant Kirin.

Embarrassed Green Island boatie Colin Webb manages to run his boat aground twice in a day while bringing it to Dunedin from Bluff. Local fisherman ran a sweep on whether he would even make it. When rescued, Mr Webb reveals he had been tossing up between the boat and a microlight.

December 25 and Santa brings toys to all the good boys and girls.

Colin Webb does not get his microlight.

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