Some surprises in Election Spending and Donations, especially Cr. Garey at just under the legal $55,000 maximum just topping Cull’s last spend with the same PR business [if the 2016 $42,000+ share claimed by Cr. Staynes can be believed].


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Missing Tremain

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BILLION $ DEBT only admitted after Election.

DCC seeking $1b of debt facility

Photo: ODT files

Photo: ODT files

The Dunedin City Council wants to increase the amount of money it and its companies can borrow – if needed – to almost $1 billion.But it also insists the extra budget headroom created by the move will not result in the council, or ratepayers, taking on extra debt beyond what it has already committed to.

The proposal is outlined in a staff report to be considered by councillors at today’s full council meeting.

The report, by DCC finance and commercial general manager David Tombs, recommended the change to allow the council and its companies to borrow money needed for their capital spending plans.

That included Aurora’s major network upgrade, work on which was continuing.

Mr Tombs, in his report, said existing arrangements allowed DCC group debt – spread across the council and its companies – of up to $850 million.

Already, group debt was forecast to exceed $850 million by late next year, as it increased from $691 million in June this year to $927 million by 2022.

The increasing debt levels were being driven largely by the capital spending plans of the council and Aurora.

That meant the council either needed to find ways to reduce debt or ways of increasing the amount that could be borrowed, to deliver on spending plans already developed.

Mr Tombs recommended an increase in uncalled share capital in the companies’ parent body, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, as the best way for increasing the group’s borrowing capacity.

The uncalled shares provided security for DCC group debt, and had previously been increased from $600 million to $850 million in 2010-11.

Mr Tombs said another change in uncalled share capital would not incur any “significant” cost, but would “simply enable the future debt to be available” and provide some “liquidity headroom”.

That headroom could be useful if needed, for example if a natural disaster struck the city, he said.

The council could consider joining the New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency, and borrowing from it, selling some of its $93.5 million investment property asset portfolio or cashing in part of its $92.7 million Waipori Fund.

However, Mr Tombs ruled out those suggestions, saying selling all the council’s investment properties could keep group debt below $850 million but would leave little headroom.

It was also unlikely all the properties could become “sale ready” within required timeframes, he said.

The Waipori Fund also generated $8.6 million in investment returns in 2018-19, a return of more than 9%, and using the fund to offset borrowing would have “adverse commercial ramifications” given the return it was generating, he said.

He recommended the change to DCHL uncalled share capital, while noting group debt could still not increase beyond $927 million without “explicit” approval from the council.

I GAVE CHRIS MORRIS THIS BILLION$ DEBT GRAPH MANY MONTHS AGO but the ODT refused to print it despite the proof that it was made from DCC accounting figures.

DCC Group Debt=updated 190625

I have warned repeatedly all year in public meetings of the inevitable Billion$ DCC Group Debt coming mostly from out-of-control DCC Companies, but was contradicted by ex-Mayor Cull’s misrepresentations that DCC debt was actually going down claiming “Core council debt – including stadium debt – was lower now than when he became mayor.” ! ODT 28/9/2019. He seemed to forget that most Stadium debt had been transferred to DCC Council Companies, and that the Companies, especially Aurora had committed to $100 million extra debt every year for the next 3 years, and that massive deferred maintenance by Aurora and by the DCC was an even worse kind of debt.

Yesterday, in Council I reminded the DCC Chief Financial Officer that his claim that the proposed new higher BILLION$ debt level headroom “could be useful if needed, for example if a natural disaster struck the city” [ODT 10/12/19] was misleading Council.

In fact the new BILLION$ DEBT level is already committed to fund increased DCC spending and especially DCC lines Company Aurora massive committed spend to deal with years of deferred maintenance.
There is not going to be any debt headroom for any natural disaster, because the un-natural disaster of out-of-control DCC Company Aurora is already budgeted to suck it all up. We are going to continue to throw good 100s of millions after bad because nobody has wanted to admit that Aurora is a hopeless financial and reputational liability that should have been sold long ago, as I have regularly suggested since 2010. The longer we continue to fail to act with Aurora, the deeper in unsustainable debt we get.
Mayor Hawkins has no business experience and no understanding of what changes are needed, so just keeps pushing up the debt and going with the status quo.

DELTA, the DCC maintenance company recently separated from Aurora, is not much better because of similar dysfunctional management, [DELTA CEO Grady Cameron left with a $900,000 pay-out last year] but it is smaller and therefore less damaging.
This smaller DELTA liability also needs urgent review of its operations, its liabilities, and a report to Council on whether it is worth keeping.

I again reminded Council yesterday that the previous massive increase in Debt Headroom up to $850 million was also justified as ‘liquidity headroom’ needed in case of natural disaster, but that it had simply been spent without any natural disaster.
None of these extensive year-long ‘BILLION$ elephant in the room’ and ‘I told you so’ speeches had been reported in the ODT before the election, but yesterday’s comments have come out today.

The Dunedin City Council is ‘‘locked in’’ to lifting its group debt to almost $1billion, councillors have heard.

The comment came from Cr Lee Vandervis after council staff confirmed planned spending by Aurora — a key driver of the council’s group debt position — could not be reversed.

Council finance and commercial general manager David Tombs, in a report to yesterday’s meeting, recommended lifting the amount of money the council’s ability to borrow money to $975million.

The mechanism for doing so involved increasing the uncalled share capital for Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, which provided security for debt across the council and its companies.

Increased debt was already forecast to fund council projects already committed to, including the major upgrade of Aurora’s network and council capital projects.

However, at present the council group debt was limited to $850million, and spending was forecast to push debt beyond that by late next year, as it increased from $691million in June this year to $927million by 2022.

Increasing the limit would allow the council to deliver on planned spending, but also provide some ‘‘liquidity headroom’’, for example if a natural disaster struck, he said.

Cr Vandervis told the meeting he had heard similar assurances before, including when the council lifted its ability to borrow from $600million to $850million in 2010-11.

At the time, it was also said to provide headroom to cope with any natural disasters, but had since been ‘‘gobbled up’’ by another form of disaster — Aurora, he said.

‘‘I’m having a deja vu experience,’’ he said yesterday.

He pressed Mr Tombs, asking him whether Aurora was committed to spending on its network, and therefore increased debt, contributing to an almost $300million overall increase in group debt by 2022.

When Mr Tombs said Aurora could not perform a ‘‘U-turn’’ on its spending plans, Cr Vandervis said critics — including himself — had been proven right.

‘‘We are absolutely locked in. We do have to spend this money. Richard Healey’s predictions of $1 billion, and mine earlier this year, have come true.

‘‘We told you so.’’

Delta employee-turned-whistleblower Richard Healey had predicted Aurora’s neglected network would end up delivering a $1billion bill.

The mounting council group debt had funded a wider variety of projects, including everything from the Peninsula Connection upgrade to Forsyth Barr Stadium, as well as Aurora’s network upgrade.

Mr Tombs said lifting the ability to borrow was simply about delivering on previous spending decisions, and the council’s debt-to-equity ratio would still be at the lower end of the scale compared with other councils.

Cr Mike Lord said the debt picture had been clear for more than a year, ever since the council decided not to sell properties to offset debt, and he had no issue with it.

Cr Carmen Houlahan also ‘‘fully’’ supported the report, saying investment in infrastructure was key, while deputy mayor Christine Garey said the council and its companies were investing in the city at a fiscally advantageous time, when interest rates were low.

Cr Jim O’Malley also reminded councillors the level of risk was ‘‘negligible’’ when much of the debt was secured against company assets, like City Forests, which could be sold.

Cr Vandervis maintained the council would have been ‘‘hundreds of millions’’ of dollars better off it it had sold
Aurora years ago, but Cr Jules Radich said that would have led to the kind of price hikes seen in the private sector elsewhere.

Councillors voted 13-1 to increase the council’s ability to borrow, to $975 million, although any increase beyond $927million would require a specific council resolution.






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Don’t dare complain to DCC staff…

Vandervis censured over ‘aggressive’ parking ticket exchange

Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis has been censured by his colleagues after a investigation found he engaged in “loud, aggressive and intimidating behaviour” towards a staff member.

Lee Vandervis

Lee Vandervis

Councillors at today’s full council meeting voted unanimously in favour of issuing Cr Vandervis with a written censure to demonstrate his conduct was unacceptable.That was despite Cr Vandervis continuing to dispute key parts of the investigation’s findings, insisting he had not been afforded “natural justice” and maintaining the complaint against him was politically motivated.

He also vowed to continue using his “loud” voice to raise call out council dysfunction where he saw it.

The Code of Conduct complaint against Cr Vandervis alleged he had engaged in “an uncalled-for verbal attack” on a DCC customer services staff member during an exchange at the Civic Centre reception on September 13.

An report into the incident by independent investigator David Benham, made public this week, concluded Cr Vandervis’ behaviour breached the council’s code of conduct on three counts.

The resolution to censure him at yesterday’s meeting came from Cr Mike Lord, who said he had also spoken to a trusted staff member who detailed the exchange.

Cr Vandervis had been “loud”, and the situation “embarrassing”, and Cr Lord accepted the staff member’s version of events as well as Mr Benham’s report.

Most other councillors spoke in agreement, including deputy mayor Christine Garey, who said the council had to enforce the code of conduct to be a responsible employer.

Cr Carmen Houlahan agreed, saying councillors had to be held to an even higher standard than the public, while Cr Chris Staynes said there was no doubt the incident had occurred as described and was not politically motivated.

Cr Jules Radich spoke in support of Cr Vandervis, saying if the exchange was over a $12 parking ticket — as the complainant had claimed and Cr Vandervis had denied — then it was “a very small matter”.

He also questioned whether the video showed “much shouting or loud-looking” behaviour, and said he was “very reluctant” to censure Cr Vandervis over the incident.

“We have quite a lot of complaint going on here about not very much,” he said.

Cr Marie Laufiso took a different view, saying if she had her way Cr Vandervis would be asked to resign.


My speech:

Since being elected in 2004, I have never accepted any rate-paid travel to conferences or sister-city visits, never accepted any DCC business contracts, never had a paid chairmanship and have refused to barter my vote. I have exposed and voted against many millions in DCC dysfunction. The claim that I have tried to avoid a $12 parking ticket is ridiculous.
As a Councillor, I call out Local Government dysfunction with my loud clear voice and I am tall with facial hair which some people find intimidating. I do not intend to change any of this.

This Code of Conduct complaint has significant importance to all Elected Representatives as although I am the person that suffers this trumped-up Code of Conduct accusation on this occasion, it could happen to any of you in the future.

My 1st point is that I did not engage in the conduct claimed by the complainant and the investigator, and I’m quite sure that if he had investigated the matter fairly then he would have reached that conclusion. My lawyer’s letter of 25/11/2019 sets out the response that I would have made if the complaint had been fairly put to me and you can judge for yourself whether the staff “summary” of that letter fairly sets out the defence that I would have made if I had been given the opportunity.

The 2nd point is that I was not provided basic Natural Justice rights, despite being guaranteed those rights under the DCC Code of Conduct. I did not see the complaint or any witness statements, and did not know until after I received the report from the investigator, that the staff member had falsely claimed that I was trying to have a parking ticket set aside which would be a clear breach of the Code of Conduct. What I was trying to do was to report a malfunctioning mislabelled parking meter (the reason for the inappropriate ticket I received) which I have frequently done in the past verbally to DCC Customer Services as is the appropriate Council procedure.
Len Andersen QC has advised me that I have good grounds for applying for a Judicial Review of any adverse decision made by the Council because of the failure of the investigator to adhere to the basic principles of Natural Justice.  My QC expects that CEO Bidrose would have received exactly the same advice from Anderson Lloyd if that question has been asked.

The 3rd point is that It was only after I made a complaint about the staff member’s refusal to accept my complaint, that this Code of Conduct complaint against me was made.  Councillors in the future may be unwilling to make complaints about staff members if there is a real risk of such a complaint resulting in a tit-for-tat anonymous Code of Conduct complaint against the Councillor, with the attendant risk of damaging the Councillor’s reputation, particularly when senior DCC staff are not prepared to ensure that there is a fair hearing and that Privacy rights are not breached.

The  4th point is that staff members other than the CEO do not have the right to make Code of Conduct complaints. My lawyer has been told that this complaint was made by the Chief Executive. Only 3 people should have known about the fact that there was a Code of Conduct complaint: the Chief Executive, her assistant and the investigator. My privacy was breached at a critical time of the election campaign by that complaint being leaked and made public, and extensively reported by the ODT and on social media. The ODT refers to its source being “a council spokeswoman,” oneexample being the ODT article of 26/09/2019.
No action seems to have been taken either, on my complaint of breach of Privacy, or on my complaint against the staff member, so it should be no surprise that I consider this whole issue to be politically motivated.

The 5th point is that Councillor Benson-Pope should not participate in any way in this hearing as his ODT 24/05/2019 article claims of my supposedly abusive emails [since debunked] exhibit such ill will against me that no reasonable person could consider that he would give me a fair hearing in any Code of Conduct hearing.

I invite you to view the video of the alleged ‘loud aggressive and intimidating’ behaviour so you can see for yourself that my behaviour was not inappropriate and there was no obvious concern shown  by either the staff member or other people in the vicinity. During the entire video you see #11 people passing within 4 meters of me talking, and only one stops for 3 seconds to look my way. Most likely this #6 passer-by was not looking at me but checking the time on the digital clock on the wall immediately above the complaining officer’s computer screen.

I am happy to answer questions if at least some Elected Representatives have a desire to give me a fair hearing:

Here is the video.


Cr. Lee Vandervis

Easy to miss the important detail. 11 people walk by within 4 metres during this 3 minute video, and the only one to look my way for 3 seconds I believe is looking at the digital clock on the pillar above the Customer Services computer screen. The video is the only hard evidence which staff tried to stop the public seeing by falsely claiming the video was confidential information. All the rest is hearsay with no witness statements made available to me.


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Should we graze our DCC water catchment area?


From: Lee Vandervis <>
Date: Thursday, 28 November 2019 at 10:32 PM
To: Peter Foster <>, “” <>, <>, Andrew Whiley <>, <>, <>, <>, Jim O’Malley <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>
Cc: Tom Dyer <>, Robert West <>, Simon Drew <>, Sue Bidrose <>, Sandy Graham <>
Subject: Re: Burnt Catchment area

Thank you for your wildfire information and suggestions as below Peter.

Another similar wildfire graph comes from the US :

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.22.18 PM.png

The issue of grazing the water-catchment area is one that I hope DCC staff will have a considered look at again, as a win/win seems likely to be available as you suggest.

Kind regards,

Cr. Lee Vandervis

47 Garfield Avenue
Dunedin 9010

From: Peter Foster <>
Date: Thursday, 28 November 2019 at 1:39 AM
To: “” <>, <>, Andrew Whiley <>, <>, <>, <>, Jim O’Malley <>, <>, Lee Vandervis <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>
Subject: Burnt Catchment area


Greetings Councillors,

When I spoke at the last DCC public forum last month, Councillor Vandervis asked about grazing animals in the water catchment area to reduce fuel load. The answer was a clear yes and here below is a graph from Western Australia that shows the effect of prior burning on the incidence of wildfires.

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.40.02 PM.png


The second question was related to the issue of animal faeces polluting the water being collected for Dunedin City.

Before answering this in more detail let me say that several decades ago I was a research biochemist who grew cultures of E coli every week so I know bacteria, As a part geologist I understand sedimentation processes and as a farmer of 40 + years I have observed first hand what happens to animal faeces.


Your DCC water manager was in the ODT last week flatly ruling out grazing animals in the water catchment. This is an emotional response, not a considered one.


Firstly, your catchment is already occupied by many animal species, rabbits, opossums, hares, mice, rats, fish, lizards ducks and other birds, all of whom are living defecating and dying in the catchment. So, no way is this catchment  free of the effects of animals.


Secondly, faeces do not get washed into rivers by every passing shower, the land would have to be very steep and the rain very heavy to wash faeces into the waterways. Faeces lie where they are dropped and break down over a period of a month or two providing fertilizer for nearby plants. The soil and the organisms that live in the soil are very good at removing any contaminating material. Coliform bacteria in faeces grow best at body temperature and will not compete for food with the billions of natural soil bacteria whose optimal temperature is usually around 15 degrees.


  1. If the area is not grazed then the grass grows in spring summer, dies off into the winter and becomes a fuel load heading into the next spring. Decomposition of dead grass at the bottom of the pile will produce CO2, methane and nitrates (nitrogen in the grass is first broken down to ammonia and then it is used by bacteria that convert it to nitrate) Ammoniacal compounds and nitrates are extremely soluble and will dissolve in rain water.


  1. The obvious animal to graze would be sheep as they mainly produce small dry faeces, they do not like water other than to drink, they do not wallow or wade in it as cattle do.


5, The aim of the exercise is to reduce the fuel load, grazing the area from spring through to autumn and removing them for winter would have the desired effect without having animals pugging ground during the winter. This could be bonus for adjacent farmers, an income stream for the DCC and reduce the fuel load to the benefit of the catchment. A win win for all concerned.


Checking contamination.

I would suggest testing water from both catchment creeks and nearby creeks that drain adjacent farmland. I strongly suspect that there will be little difference in bacterial count or  chemical content.  All water contains bacteria, it is only the type and concentration that determines whether it is safe or unsafe to drink. Waterways are very good at self cleansing  and grass is very good at trapping sediments.


Given that you already have a significant animal population in the catchment I very much doubt that adding grazing animals from September to March will make any detectable difference. Testing your catchment water now and adjacent farm creeks should provide the information necessary to be assured that this is a safe process.


I am on the committee of East Otago Rivers catchment group and it is our intention to do such testing in our area as the draconian government measure blame farmers for un swimmable rivers, yet data to date show rural river are all swimmable, the pollution that makes rivers unswimmable comes from towns and cities.

eg check out the bacterial counts on Leith, Kaikorai rivers and Thomsons creek below Omakau and compare them with purely rural waterways.



Peter Foster
61 Whites Rd
R.D. 1
Waikouaiti 9471

Mobile – 0272657885

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How long before we stop building roads and become Jetsons?

Once in a century there is a truly transformational technology that drives enormous social change. Could travel in the 3rd dimension be it?

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What would I have done differently as Mayor?

In response to many people asking me what I would have done differently at the outset given the STV votes necessary to be Mayor, my plan was to change many things.
First I would have awarded Councillor positions/subcommittees on merit/experience, and depending on Councillor preferences would have made either Cr. O’Malley or Cr. Hawkins my deputy because they are the most accomplished speakers with ability to chair meetings and would have brought a representative balance to Council.
I would have awarded equal payments to all Councillors to avoid the A-team/B-team self-interest issues, and disestablished the main Committees and Chairs positions as these are name-only pretensions. This would make all these Committee meetings full Council meetings, since they are not subcommittees and include all Councillors anyway.
Councillors are all elected equally to represent all of Dunedin, so should have an equally level playing field where the focus is on good decisions, rather than on personal advancement from mere Councillor to the empty title of Deputy Chair, to Chair where you get some real influence and now an extra $12,000+ per year, membership of important and sometimes even more lucrative subcommittees and the inner circle A-Team, then to Deputy Mayor and finally to the position that really matters – Mayor.
For example, as a fellow Councillor, Cr. Hawkins earned more that twice as much as I did last year [Cr Hawkins total remuneration from the DCC was $136,075 in the 2017/18 year], not because of more experience or RMA certification, but because he was one of Mayor Cull’s favourites, a chosen Chair and Commissioner.
The Mayoralty is all-important because all of the decisions above are the Mayor’s to make [even if some need rubber-stamping by Council], along with being the media spokesperson for Council, oversight of agenda preparation, conduit to the Chief Executive and staff, control of full Council meetings, control of a Mayoral fund, and automatic membership of University of Otago and Chamber of Commerce Committees,  etc.
The often-quoted claim that the Mayor has only one vote and needs the ‘teamwork’ of a majority of Councillors ‘to get things done’ is mistaken on many levels. To get good decisions that will get needed things done, the Mayor can ensure properly informed, balanced agendas and reasoned respectful debate, all of which are currently undermined by party politics, brown-nosing for positions and higher pay, unbalanced staff agendas, Groupthink and Codependency.
Poor Council decisions, pet projects, and wasteful spending have long been the result, so that Dunedin’s development continues to lag behind the New Zealand average on: Employment, Consumer spending, Tourism- visitor spend,
Guest nights, Car and Commercial vehicle registrations, Job seekers, Traffic flow, Residential and non-residential consents and Gross Domestic Product.
Dunedin has the educated people, natural Port, beautiful environment and historic infrastructure and land to do much better than the NZ average, and better Local Government is the key to realising this potential.

In conjunction with the CEO, I would have created a new staff position called ‘Chief of Staff’ who would liaise and communicate between staff and elected representatives to give elected representatives a closer understanding of staff information and processes, allowing relationships between elected members and staff to be better informed and mutual directions better achieved.
The physical raising of Mayor and Staff above the Councillors’ floor level in the Council Chamber is a minor but dis-empowering bit of psychology that I had intended to change by getting rid of the raised-floor sections for Staff, quitting the elevated Mayoral throne and sitting at the head of the Debating Chamber table at the same level as all other elected members.
I believe that with no greasy pole to climb and the elimination of Mayoral-created hierarchies amongst Councillors, that a focus on debate of issues rather than on personal Councillor advancement and earnings would be encouraged.

Many other DCC efficiency changes have long been needed in my opinion, and as Mayor I believe it would have been possible to introduce many of these quite quickly.
My hope looking forward, is that Dunedin will still be able to reach its long-delayed potential and embrace the changes needed.

The following email, including my suggested efficiency changes from 2006 and a more comprehensive up-to-date ‘102 Ways’ list from the Taxpayers Union are detailed below:


From: Lee Vandervis <>
Date: Sunday, 29 July 2018 at 5:41 PM
To: Jordan Williams <>
Subject: 102 Ways BRILLIANT!

Hi Jordan,

Imagine my joy in reading your 102 ways for Councils to save money, when the DCC has done only 1 of them!

As a first-term Councillor in 2006 I proposed a more modest but some similar 30 suggestions as follows:
                                 (Ratepayers will probably never notice the service difference)

1 – Restrict staff travel. Use 50% of budget saved, to fund IS video conferencing.
2 – Restrict consultant use. Use 50% of budget saved, to fund DCC Engineer & DCC Lawyer
3 – Restructure upper management. Promote only 4 best DCC managers to business-like 3 tier system
4 – Restructure middle management in favour of team leaders, rather than having both managers and leaders.
5 – Make management responsible for energy efficiency in respective areas.
6 – Reduce secretarial staff by 50% creating flexible secretary pool. Only CEO & Mayor to have own P.A.
7 – Reduce analyst staff by 50%, reducing number of surveys, reports, and data collections.
8 – Reduce Citifleet 15% from 230 to 200 vehicles, [sell old ones and promote car pooling].
9 – Institute bare-bones email tender process for all $2000+ expenditure, formal process for all $50,000+
10-Institute 5% preference for local business contractors. [reduce National travel costs + boost local economy]
11-Axe unproductive paperwork and PR; City Talk, Staff Zone, Fact Line, Surveys, Economic Impact Studies…
12-Build closer University relationships and get free surveys/studies done as projects by graduates.
13-Close graphics department. Close Bindery. Publish most items on-line.
14-Use 50% of Bindery budget saved to fund IS print shop, for reduced hard-copy printing requirements.
15-Wind up Transportation Strategy department. Use 50% of budget to subsidize integrating bus systems.
16-Close Economic Development Unit. Use 50% of budget to fund new Tourism Dunedin and business mentors.
17-Close Communications and Marketing dept. Use 50% of budget to contract Events and two Organizers
18-Lease extra two unused Civic centre floors [5&6]
19-Reduce Central Library staff levels by 10%. Rationalise to 3 floors. [Upper floors Town Hall breakout space].
20-Restrict City Property to maintenance/operations role. Avoid specialist property development and speculation.
21-Staged selloff of Property assets giving net return of < 7%, and retire debt with proceeds.
22-Contract out Solid Waste and Landfill operations with specific waste minimisation specifications.
23-Defer Transportation Strategy Strategic Corridor
24-Defer Moana Pool gym/office development
25-Defer Chinese Garden
26-Halt Dunedin Centre development. Upgrade existing Town Hall as is.
27-Reduce Settlers development to stage 1 [proper collection storage]
28-Restrict Harbourside development to access and facilitation role.
29-Promote regular grass-roots Rugby use and sponsorship of Carisbrook. Promote ‘Build the Brook’ Lottery
30-Sell naming rights for Logan Park development to ODT

Cr. Lee Vandervis

47 Garfield Avenue
Dunedin 9010




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Dunedin North today

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7 months of frustrated information requests regarding DCC lines company Aurora issues finally now to be independently investigated. :-)

From: Lee Vandervis <>
Date: Tuesday, 22 October 2019 at 8:29 PM
To: Sue Bidrose <>, Dave Tombs <>, Aaron Hawkins <>
Cc: Dave Tombs <>, Sandy Graham <>, “Keith Cooper (” <>, Jemma Adamson <>, “Council 2016-2019 (Elected Members)” <>, Jules Radich <>, Sophie Barker <>
Subject: Re: 2019 Expenditure on Assets Forecast and Pole replacement information. Information requests


Dear Sue and Dave,

As the email trail below records, I have for seven months been trying to get the original Report and associated Memos from our Council owned lines company Aurora written by the ex-Aurora Manager of the Accelerated Pole Replacement Program Godfrey Brosnan, which ex-Aurora’s Richard Healey assures me provides data, evaluation and comment on exceptionally poor productivity in the $60 million Accelerated Pole Replacement Program entirely at odds with the series of Pole Replacement information updates supplied at various intervals to Councillors over recent years.

In addition to not getting this information, even after repeated attempts and application to the Ombudsman, I have also not been able to get information on how Aurora intends to fund its on-going extraordinary deferred-maintenance-driven increasing renewals spending, given Aurora projections of declining interest costs as below, line 23 cost of financing.

The costs of pole replacement has gone from around $7,000 [already very high given largest pole material cost of well under $1,000] over several years to anything from $10,000 to $14,000 per pole, largely it seems as a result of having to import line-gangs from outside Dunedin and because of on-going preferred relationships with DELTA who used to get inflated contracts from Aurora prior to my push to get the companies separated/possibly sold, but years later still have preferred contractor status with now separate entity Aurora.

My disappointment at being denied Aurora Accelerated Pole Replacement information and evidence has been compounded by DCC lack of action despite my own evidence collection of the replacement of perfectly sound concrete and tanalised wooden power poles [see attached as stored at my farm] as alleged by Richard Healey, and detailed to Dave Tombs and many others at the DCC this year.
I have subsequently publicised evidence of this particular Aurora waste on my blog and on FaceBook and still nothing has been acknowledged by you, our CEO, or by staff.
I have failed to get the ODT interested in investigating the Accelerated Pole Replacement issues, with Sir Julian Smith being less than helpful.

DCC decades-long failure to control our Companies Aurora and DELTA continues despite the structural separation and management changes.
I have recently been told by a DELTA staff member that DELTA staff no longer have access the Aurora staff room, with its extraordinarily expensive near $11,000 coffee machine, indicating general management culture problems, in addition to the specific alleged waste of half of the costs of the $60 million Accelerated Pole Replacement Program.

What I believe is needed with urgency in addition to release of the Brosnan Accelerated Pole Replacement Reports and Memos, is a comprehensive truly independent investigation of Aurora and DELTA management and operations: contracting costs and productivity, with full disclosure to our Dunedin shareholders of past, current and future planned expenditure, costs, productivity, deferred maintenance, debt and any dividends.

Looking forward to hearing by return what you intend to do regarding our biggest asset/liability/threat to DCC economic sustainability.


Cr. Lee Vandervis

From: Jemma Adamson <>
Date: Thursday, 25 July 2019 at 4:47 PM
To: Lee Vandervis <>
Cc: Dave Cull <>, Sue Bidrose <>, Dave Tombs <>, Sandy Graham <>, “Keith Cooper (” <>
Subject: RE: 2019 Expenditure on Assets Forecast and Pole replacement information. Information requests


Dear Cr Vandervis

DCHL is responding on behalf of Aurora Energy Limited to the information request contained in your email of 6 July 2019.

Pole replacement report information

You have re-requested information related to Aurora Energy’s Accelerated Pole Programme which you say was prepared by a named contractor who worked for the company in 2018. Our previous response to you dated 28 June 2019 refers.

Aurora Energy has previously set out its reasons, why it considers it to be inappropriate to release the requested material or any material that is provided in confidence and / or is likely prejudice the commercial position of Aurora Energy in conducting its business. This decision is consistent with the company’s published Information Disclosure Policy.

The company has previously advised that, last year Dave Frow, an experienced engineer and Director of Aurora Energy, was engaged by the Aurora Energy Board to conduct a review and investigation into various claims made around the company’s Accelerated Pole Programme. This review concluded that the various claims and assertions made were unfounded and not supported by evidence. The investigation report did acknowledge that there was some scope to make more general process improvements and these recommendations were made available to the Aurora Energy Management team.

Aurora Energy would like to extend again its previously signalled offer to meet with you to share further details of this investigation report, on a strictly confidential basis, if it would assist you to better understand the overall situation. If you want to take up an opportunity to see a fuller copy of the report on that basis, please confirm to me.

Aurora Energy has also again expressed to us its concern around potential privacy breaches and confidential information being released and asks that you please advise if you have in fact sighted any of the material to which you refer.

Coffee machine

The Company has previously provided you with a summary of the purchase and running costs of its staff coffee machine. You have requested copies of the original invoices and these are attached. We trust that the information provided closes this matter.

Kind regards
Jemma Adams

Jemma Adams

General Manager, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd

03 474 3866 | 021 055 3086 |

50 The Octagon, Dunedin | PO Box 5045, Dunedin 9054

From: Lee Vandervis
Sent: Saturday, 6 July 2019 2:43 p.m.
To: Jemma Adams <>; Steve Thompson <>; Richard Fletcher <>
Cc: Sue Bidrose <>; Dave Tombs <>; Sandy Graham <>; Keith Cooper ( <>; Council 2016-2019 (Elected Members) <>
Subject: Re: 2019 Expenditure on Assets Forecast and Pole replacement information. Information requests

Dear Steve, Richard, and Jemma,

Your Information Disclosure Policy specifies that “Aurora Energy recognises that there is a positive correlation between effective and responsive stakeholder engagement and the high performance of its business.” Both are now in question.

You have for the second time as below, this time just within timeframe limits, refused to forward to me the requested information of assessments of your Accelerated Pole Replacement Programme by your ex- Accelerated Pole Replacement Programme Manager Godfrey Brosnan. You have instead sent me unrequested information from former Director David Frow.
Your claim that you can not send me the required information from Mr Brosnan because it might impact Mr Brosnan’s right to privacy does not convince.

Has David Frow no similar immunity to disclosure due to privacy? #1`

The privacy issue you claim appears to be an excuse to never forward any information from anyone in your organisation that you do not want to get out.

Have you asked your ex- Accelerated Pole Replacement Programme Manager Godfrey Brosnan for his permission to forward his requested Pole-Replacements Assessments Reports and Memos? #2
If he agrees to his Accelerated Pole Replacement Reports and Memos being forwarded, will you then forward them to me? #3

Effective stakeholder engagement is not possible when, as you have, failed to respond to information requests with any acknowledgment as per your publicly advertised Information Disclosure Policy, failed to respond within the 21 working days, and then on subsequent information re-request hid all requested information behind a catch-all privacy claim which makes a mockery of your Information Disclosure Policy.

Re your most expensive coffee machine, why have you not forwarded a copy of the original coffee machine invoice that I specifically requested? #4

Can you please forward this copy of original invoice by return, with urgency in the public interest? #5

Looking forward to receiving answers to #1#2#3#4 and to #5 by return as this invoice copy must be very easily forwarded.


Cr. Lee Vandervis


From: Jemma Adamson <>
Date: Friday, 28 June 2019 at 4:33 PM
To: Lee Vandervis <>
Cc: Dave Cull <>, Sue Bidrose <>, Dave Tombs <>, Sandy Graham <>, “Keith Cooper (” <>
Subject: RE: 2019 Expenditure on Assets Forecast and Pole replacement information. Information requests

Dear Cr Vandervis

DCHL is responding on behalf of Aurora Energy Limited to the information request contained in your email of 31 May 2019.

As you know, Aurora Energy  is not subject to the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA). It has, however adopted an Information Disclosure Policy (see here), which rests on a similar principle of transparency and adopts similar processes for the handling of information requests. Your request has been considered under this policy and we (DCHL) are providing this response on behalf of Aurora Energy.

Pole replacement report information

Your information request refers specifically to material which you understand was written, and provided to the company, by an individual whom you name.  Aurora Energy has expressed to us its concern around potential privacy breaches and confidential information being released. The company has asked you to please advise if you have in fact sighted the material you refer to.

Aurora Energy has sought advice on privacy considerations of responding to your request. The company has been advised that confirming (or otherwise) that the person you name did or did not submit the material described would be a breach of privacy. Therefore, while this response confirms that Aurora did receive material of a relevant nature, this response does not confirm that it was provided by the person you name (see Information Disclosure Policy Appendix 1 (x)).

Last year, an individual approached Aurora’s Chair seeking to provide material under the protections of the Protected Disclosures Act. The Chair considered that some of the pre-conditions under that Act did not apply and raised that with the informant. In the interests of transparency the informant was notified that the Board would proceed to investigate the matter as if a protected disclosure had been made.

Aurora Energy has decided to withhold the material that individual provided, for several reasons:

  • Under Clause 3.2 of the company’s Protected Disclosures Policy an informant is entitled to have their identity protected and Aurora Energy is satisfied that it is not possible to release the material to you without compromising that expectation.
  • Appendix 1(g)(i) of the Information Disclosure Policy also applies, as releasing material provided in confidence would be likely to prejudice the future supply of such information.
  • Separately, the nature of the material is such that the privacy interests of other individuals on Aurora’s staff would also be compromised by its release.

However, consistent with Aurora Energy’s commitment to transparency, the company wishes to provide you general information about the concerns which were raised and about how those concerns were addressed.

Please find attached an extract from the conclusion summary of the investigation report of those concerns (“Preliminary Report on Investigation into 2018 Pole Programme”), prepared on behalf of the Board by its former director Dave Frow.

The Report was considered by the Aurora Energy Board at its meeting of 29 August 2018.  The Board was satisfied that the report provided a good basis on which to determine matters and although the terms of Reference had allowed for the possibility of further work on the issues it was concluded that none was required. Accordingly although marked draft, and described as preliminary, this report was accepted by the Board as sufficient to conclude its investigations into the matters raised.

Aurora Energy trusts that the information set out above and in the attached extract from the relevant investigation conducted in 2018 appropriately addresses your inquiry.

Aurora Energy would also be willing to meet with you to share further details of the investigation report with you, on a strictly confidential basis, if it would assist you to better understand the overall situation.  This would necessarily be a redacted version of the report in order to protect the privacy of individuals including Aurora Energy staff. If you want to take up an opportunity to see a fuller copy of the report on that basis please confirm to me.

Coffee machine

Your email also requested information about Aurora Energy’s purchase of a staff coffee machine.

Aurora Energy’s Halsey Street office coffee machine was purchased in February 2018. The investment cost was $9,348 (excluding GST). Its monthly depreciation cost is $130 and the book value as at the end of April 2019 was $7,400. The ongoing monthly costs to operate are approximately $1,622 per month, which is made up of milk, coffee beans and chocolate powder. This equates to approximately 72c per staff member per day.

Aurora Energy are according priority to the day to day wellbeing of its 121 Halsey St staff, especially given the company’s current workload, and to making the company an attractive place to work. The company is actively seeking to recruit and retain top quality staff. Their office is in an industrial area, and includes the Control Room, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Aurora Energy disagree with the description of their management culture as “self-serving”.

I trust this information addresses your request.

Kind regards
Jemma Adams


Jemma Adams

General Manager, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd

03 474 3866 | 021 055 3086 |

50 The Octagon, Dunedin | PO Box 5045, Dunedin 9054


From: Lee Vandervis
Sent: Friday, 31 May 2019 5:26 p.m.
To: Richard Fletcher <>; Steve Thompson <>
Cc: Sue Bidrose <>; Keith Cooper ( <>; Dave Tombs <>; Sandy Graham <>; Jemma Adams <>; Richard Healey <>; Richard Saunders <>
Subject: 2019 Expenditure on Assets Forecast and Pole replacement information. Information requests

Hi Richard and Steve,

I note I have yet to get an explanantion of why you did not comply with your own information response policy of acknowledging my request for information within 48 Hours, and not replying within 21 working days.

A belated response from Jemma Adams at DCHL has asked for more detail regarding the specific pole-replacement reports that I wish to see.

An ex-Aurora employee Richard Healey has confirmed that there was a report and memos detailing a fraught pole-replacement program written by your pole-replacement director Godfrey Brosnan, and that in it and in associated letters and memos he highlighted unacceptably low-productivity, replacement of many poles that still had useful life, poor planning, and unacceptably low production rates. I would like to see copies of these memos and reports, on a public information basis, or on a confidential to me basis if necessary.

Mr Healey also confirms that a self-serving culture in Aurora management is illustrated by the alleged purchase of an extraordinarily expensive coffee machine [$17,000+?], with extraordinary monthly running costs rumoured to be near 4 figures.

Can you please forward copies of the original purchase documentation showing how much was paid for Aurora’s most expensive coffee machine, along with copies of invoices detailing several months’ running costs for the machine.

Looking forward to rapid responses this time, in the public interest.

Cr. Lee Vandervis

From: Jemma Adamson <>
Date: Wednesday, 8 May 2019 at 3:08 PM
To: Lee Vandervis <>
Cc: Dave Cull <>, Sue Bidrose <>, “Keith Cooper (” <>, Dave Tombs <>, Sandy Graham <>
Subject: RE: 2019 Expenditure on Assets Forecast


Dear Cr Vandervis

Aurora Energy passed your email below to Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, as per the agreed protocol of channelling shareholder correspondence with DCHL group companies through the holdings company.  We apologise for the delay in responding to you.


Please find below information from Aurora Energy in response to your questions.


We have also received your email this morning in relation to the cable ducts under the bus hub. We will co-ordinate with Aurora Energy and hope to respond to you by close of business tomorrow.

Kind regards


  1. Financial forecasts

What is your projected debt level projected to be over each of the coming 5 years?

Term debt forecasts for the three years ending 30 June 2022 were provided in the company’s draft 2020 Statement of Intent, and are re-stated below for ease of reference. As noted at the time, these forecasts were an emerging view and are subject to change again in the final document to be released by 30 June 2019.


  Year ending
Year ending
Year ending
Term borrowings 375,738 434,860 468,398


To make these forecasts work, what increases in line charges have been assumed in each of the coming 5 years?

A wide range of revenue and expenditure inputs go into Aurora’s debt forecasts. Line charge increases are an area of particular uncertainty, as they derive from the price path determined for Aurora Energy by the Commerce Commission. Later this year, the Commerce Commission will be resetting the default price path (DPP) for all regulated electricity distribution businesses, including Aurora Energy, and that will determine our maximum allowable line charge revenue from 1 April 2020.


Aurora Energy also plans to apply to the Commerce Commission for a customised price path (CPP) for the five years from 1 April 2021.  As part of this CPP application we will set out our proposed expenditure plans for the CPP period and the expected impact on the line charges consumers pay. The Commerce Commission, following consultation with consumers and independent verification, will then set Aurora Energy’s expenditure allowances and maximum allowable line charge revenue under the CPP.

Those two Commerce Commission determinations will allow Aurora Energy to forecast five year line charge increases with more certainty. Those forecasts will be made publicly available through the 2021 and 2022 Statement of Intents, and in the case of the CPP, as noted, will involve consultation with consumers as part of the process.

Please note that the cost of finance line (line 23) of our Schedule 11a Report on Forecast Capital Expenditure only reflects the finance costs we forecast to be capitalised (under Financial Reporting Standards) into the cost of network assets we construct.

  1. Pole programme

Aurora Energy regularly receives a range of advice and reports in relation to its fleet of power poles. Aurora has provided information in response to your questions below; they would require more detail in order to be able to identify a specific report.  Aurora believes the most relevant, and comprehensive, one in relation to your questions is WSP’s independent engineering review of the network published last November 2018. (WSP’s report is available in full on Aurora’s website here

WSP carried out an engineering and risk assessment across all major network asset fleets, including power poles. In its report, WSP estimated there were 1,397 poles that presented a high risk and required remediation out of a total of 54,049 poles on the Aurora Energy network (see page 73 of the report). Their expert assessment was based on data analysis and in-field inspections including sample testing and drone inspections.

In the context of your broader question, on the drivers and cost of pole replacement, you refer to your previous questions on the Butler St concrete poles, which Aurora replaced early last year. By way of background to this work, the initial driver for the work on Butler Street was a severely compromised red tagged wooden pole. On pre-inspection at site the contractor noted issues with an adjacent concrete structure which was also red tagged (ie: we are not permitted to change load on a red tagged pole if it is adjacent to a pole that is being replaced so this concrete pole also needed to be replaced at the same time). The pole testing information Aurora had available at the time also indicated that there were a number of other red tagged concrete poles on Butler Street and a decision was made to replace them as part of the same job. This was considered to be the prudent response both from a risk perspective and in order to minimise the frequency and duration of supply interruptions to customers.

Aurora Energy’s ongoing pole renewal programme continues to focus on reducing the backlog of poles in need of priority replacement or reinforcement. The forward pole programme is set out in the annual Asset Management Plan and is publicly available on our website here

Aurora Energy’s urgent priorities are to address the backlog of red-tagged poles and test poles in high criticality areas and they are making steady progress. By the end of March 2019, Aurora had reduced the backlog of ~1000 red tagged poles (as reported in the 2018 Asset Management Plan as at 4 October 2018) to ~200. Given the age and asset health of the pole fleet, Aurora will continue to identify poles requiring replacement at an elevated rate over the next three years. The current total of red-tagged poles is ~500 including the ~200 poles already identified plus ~300 new discoveries from testing.

In relation to the costs of pole replacement, economies of scale are more easily achieved when building new sections of overhead lines. There are fewer opportunities for savings when replacing individual poles where the primary cost drivers are the complexity of the pole structure, network configuration and location.

Pole replacement costs can vary according to a range of factors, for example the complexity of the structure that is being replaced (e.g. in-line or tee-off pole, single or multiple circuits, low or high voltage), what network equipment it supports (e.g. fuses, switchgear), its location (e.g. ease of access, ground conditions), type of pole (e.g. steel, concrete or wooden) and size of pole (e.g. height, single or two-pole structure).

Jemma Adams

General Manager, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd

03 474 3866 | 021 055 3086 |

50 The Octagon, Dunedin | PO Box 5045, Dunedin 9054
Begin forwarded message:

From: Lee Vandervis <>
Date: 1 April 2019 at 9:21:05 PM NZDT
To: Richard Fletcher <>, Steve Thompson <>, Sue Bidrose <>, Sandy Graham <>
Cc: “Council 2016-2019 (Elected Members)” <>, Simon Drew <>
Subject: 2019 Expenditure on Assets Forecast

This schedule requires a breakdown of forecast expenditure on assets for the current disclosure year and a 10 year planning period. The forecasts should be consistent with the supporting information set out in the AMP. The forecast is to be expressed in both constant price and nominal dollar terms. Also required is a forecast of the value of commissioned assets (i.e., the value of RAB additions)
EDBs must provide explanatory comment on the difference between constant price and nominal dollar forecasts of expenditure on assets in Schedule 14a (Mandatory Explanatory Notes).
This information is not part of audited disclosure information.
sch ref  
7   Current Year CY CY+1 CY+2 CY+3 CY+4 CY+5 CY+6 CY+7 CY+8 CY+9 CY+10
8     for year ended 31 Mar 19 31 Mar 20 31 Mar 21 31 Mar 22 31 Mar 23 31 Mar 24 31 Mar 25 31 Mar 26 31 Mar 27 31 Mar 28 31 Mar 29
9   11a(i): Expenditure on Assets Forecast $000 (in nominal dollars)                    
10   Consumer connection 14,169 10,008 9,313 9,075 8,175 8,050 7,922 7,790 7,886 7,984 8,084
11   System growth 8,722 10,198 7,118 10,658 11,087 4,645 9,015 4,305 2,078 9,048 1,207
12   Asset replacement and renewal 42,255 51,885 55,616 54,830 51,376 46,921 45,702 39,266 44,230 36,923 32,686
13   Asset relocations 1,176 4,086 2,333 1,466 1,458 1,435 1,674 15,119 1,406 1,423 1,441
14   Reliability, safety and environment:
15   Quality of supply 528 521 213 653 218 116 117 118 120 121 123
16   Legislative and regulatory
17   Other reliability, safety and environment 251
18     Total reliability, safety and environment 528 521 464 653 218 116 117 118 120 121 123
19   Expenditure on network assets 66,849 76,697 74,843 76,682 72,313 61,166 64,429 66,599 55,720 55,499 43,542
20     Expenditure on non-network assets 5,233 4,971 4,904 5,928 5,422 6,059 5,982 4,970 4,713 4,763 4,615
21   Expenditure on assets 72,082 81,668 79,748 82,610 77,735 67,225 70,411 71,569 60,433 60,262 48,156
23   plus   Cost of financing 1,420 1,520 1,374 795 146
24   less   Value of capital contributions 3,507 6,992 5,029 4,397 4,090 4,139 4,452 11,718 4,291 4,343 4,397
25   plus   Value of vested assets
27   Capital expenditure forecast 69,994 76,195 76,092 79,008 73,791 63,086 65,959 59,851 56,143 55,919 43,759
29     Assets commissioned 71,511 81,175 97,857 87,136 78,238 69,179 70,273 80,796 55,270 66,071 49,064


Hi Steve and Richard,

Looking at your projected cost of financing [line 23] which diminishes to nothing in March 2024, and given your continued substantial Capex spend [line 27] which does not decrease over this 5 year period, what is your projected debt level projected to be over each of the coming 5 years?
To make these forecasts work, what increases in line charges have been assumed in each of the coming 5 years?


I understand that you have had an internal report from a senior staff member that addresses the issues of replaced poles and how many actually needed replacing [remember my questions over the Butler st concrete poles which were all replaced] and what the costs of pole replacement have risen to despite hoped for economies of scale with so many being done.

Can you please forward a copy of this pole-replacement report?

Looking forward to prompt replies,

Cr. Lee Vandervis


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Limes in France – BBC= what we should do

NZTA’s extraordinary decision to reclassify Limes as not a motor vehicle when they are a vehicle with a motor defied explanation. They should have been classified as mo-ped and not allowed on footpaths, as they were prior to Lime’s request in 2018.

Getting Limes off the footpath is the solution to an NZTA-created problem in my view, and France has done it.



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Deputy Position offered by Mayor Hawkins -yeah right!

A DCC Deputy Chair position is a Councillor novice opportunity to sit in the Chair’s position in the unlikely event of the Chair being unavailable.
It carries no responsibility or opportunity to contribute in any meaningful way.
Deputy Chair is simply an empty title liberally handed out to give novice Councillors hope that they might be in a queue for real Mayoral promotion.

The Chairs under Mayor Cull have precooked Council agendas in influential ‘Chairs meetings’, and controlled Committee meetings, and get well paid for all this extra ‘work’.

I was Deputy Chair of Infrastructure Services many years ago when Andrew Noone was Chair, but was never allowed to attend a Chairs’ meeting.

A Chair of any of the main DCC Committees is therefore a real position of responsibility and influence, which neither Mayor Cull nor Hawkins has allowed me.
Mayor Hawkins claims to value diversity and inclusiveness, saying divergent views around the Council table is healthy. By excluding Dunedin’s highest polling Councillor from the inner circle of Chairs, Mayor Hawkins continues the hypocrisy of saying one thing, while doing its opposite.


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My new Position

To honour all those Dunedin citizens who have given me almost twice the votes of any other Councillor, I resolve to bring them regular website updates on what I see really happening at the DCC without misrepresentation or suppression by the Otago Daily Times.

Councillor Positions.

Mayor Hawkins has faltered in his first decisions as Mayor, unable to drive the new Council in any other direction than that long set by Mayor Cull, with similar $14,000+ rewards for his like-minded chairs, and double-up deputy chairs to ensure that everyone got something except Cr. Vandervis.
Mayor Hawkins’ claim to be “excited about the diversity of skills and talent the election has delivered, and all Councillors will have important roles to play under his leadership” clearly is not true of Dunedin’s most popular and experienced Councillor.

Mayor Hawkins has lost the potential to finally have Infrastructure Services overseen by somebody with long Council experience, technical understanding and highly successful business history, which does not bode well for Dunedin’s future drainage, electrical, building and transport infrastructure – traffic flows, parking, and vehicle electrification.

Mayor Hawkins’ preaching diversity and inclusion, while practicing ‘similar values’ and exclusion, marks the continuation of the dysfunctional Council that has already delivered a near BILLION$ debt, and panoramic deferred maintenance.
I am looking forward to remaining engaged with Dunedin’s public, receiving and responding to comments on both this site and on Facebook.

Mayor-elect advises Councillor appointments – DCC

Dunedin (Friday, 18 October 2019) – Dunedin Mayor-elect Aaron Hawkins says he’s excited about the diversity of skills and talent the election has delivered, and all Councillors will have important roles to play under his leadership.

Mr Hawkins today advised his appointments for Deputy Mayor and Committee Chairs for the new triennium.

He has appointed Cr Christine Garey as Deputy Mayor, while Crs Marie Laufiso (Community and Culture), Chris Staynes (Economic Development), Mike Lord (Finance and CCOs), Jim O’Malley (Infrastructure Services), and David Benson-Pope (Planning and Environment) will be the Standing Committee Chairs. Cr Andrew Whiley will be Chair of the Bylaws Subcommittee, and Cr Garey will be Chair of the Grants Subcommittee.

Mr Hawkins says all councillors were offered positions, whether as Committee chairs or deputy chairs.

“I’ve met individually with the councillors this week to discuss their hopes and aspirations for this term. Wherever possible, my appointments reflect those discussions and recognise councillors’ areas of interest.

“The election has delivered a diverse range of talent and skills around the Council table and my expectation is that all councillors, regardless of their appointments, will have much to contribute over the next three years,” he says.

Mr Hawkins says his expectations around the workloads and responsibilities of all councillors have been reflected in recommended changes to elected members’ remuneration.

If recommended changes are approved, the Deputy Mayor’s remuneration would be set at $90,790, Committee Chairs* $85,786 each, and Councillors $71,488 each. Increases on previous elected members’ remuneration are required due to an increase in the total pool determined by the Remuneration Authority. The Authority requires that the pool is fully committed.

The councillor appointments will be noted, and councillor remuneration confirmed, at the inaugural Council meeting on Friday, 25 October.

Chairs and Deputy Chairs for Committees of Council

Committee Chair Deputy Chair
Finance and CCOs Cr Mike Lord Cr Doug Hall
Community and Culture Cr Marie Laufiso Cr Christine Garey Cr Carmen Houlahan
Infrastructure Services Cr Jim O’Malley Cr Jules Radich
Planning and Environment Cr David Benson-Pope Cr Sophie Barker Cr Steve Walker
Economic Development Cr Chris Staynes Cr Andrew Whiley Cr Rachel Elder
Bylaws Subcommittee Cr Andrew Whiley  
Grants Subcommittee Cr Christine Garey  


Mayor Hawkins

The Mayoralty is the position that can influence so many local Government issues and processes. What will Mayor Hawkins change?

Mayor Hawkins asked me what I would have done as Mayor in a wide-ranging and pleasant discussion. One of my plans which I relayed to him was to get rid of the Council Chamber platforms that raised CEO, minutes and presenting DCC staff above the level of Councillors, and to be a Mayor that abandoned the elevated throne for a Councillor level seat at the head of the big Council table, creating a physically level debating environment, rather than having Mayor and staff always talking down to Councillors. Little Mayor Cull would never dream of abandoning his high-chair, but Mayor Hawkins seems keen on reducing the elected member’s hierarchy, remuneration differences, and A-team/B-team issues. His choice of Deputy Mayor will indicate how much he values voter representation and Councillor experience over towing a party line.
I would also have made a number of changes to standing orders, including scraping the awkward requirement for speaking Councillors to stand, while all other DCC staff and Mayor could speak while remaining seated.
Mayor Hawkins replied that there were some traditions worth keeping like the Mayoral oil painting, with which I agreed, but the talking down to Councillors and having to stand traditions have long been symbolic of an elevated Bureaucracy wagging the dog of our so-called Democracy.
Opportunities abound for our new Mayor Hawkins to use his pivotal position to improve DCC decision-making.

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Radio One Duel – listen here

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Queens Drive Parking

DCC lost Commuter Parking that I have long complained of but might be regained with social media pressure…

67930762_10214483650826778_8612101863107461120_o.jpg (1920×1285)

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Parry Street Parking Space

DCC Parking Manager claims “DCC does not have space to create 200 temporary parks…” – ODT today…

67937588_10214431539204020_4869360833299218432_o.jpg (1920×1285)

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More Unitary Council Misinformation

Again Mayor Cull shuts down appropriate questions asked at the appropriate time.

Email received yesterday as below, again well outside the legally required date to answer a question under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, again no answer as to WHY this motion received low priority for over 2 years, and again another version of ‘NO copy of the draft Unitary Council report was SENT to the ORC’ – it now appears that DCC CEO Bidrose HAND DELIVERED the draft Unitary Council report herself to the ORC but it was NOT COMPLETELY VIEWED BY ORC CEO Bodeker!

The now suppressed draft Unitary Council report that I have belatedly been allowed to view runs to 14 pages and sets out all the procedural steps for the formation of a Unitary Council plus some sparse redacted staff comment.

From: Sandy Graham <>
Date: Thursday, 4 July 2019 at 5:06 PM
To: Lee Vandervis <>
Cc: Sue Bidrose <>, “Council 2016-2019 (Elected Members)” <>, Official Information <>
Subject: RE: Urgently required answers to Unitary Council report related questions
Dear Lee
I refer to your e-mail of 27 May 2019 which is attached below and I apologise for the delay in responding. I have copied your questions and provided responses to each question using your original numbering.
The responses are as follows:
1, why have you still not said why this particular report received such low priority? Does your answer to 4 imply that this low prioritisation decision was the CEO’s? Why “was no date aimed for, for the report to go to Council.”? These remain pivotal and unanswered questions.
Questions 1 and 4 were answered at the Council meeting on 28 May 2019 and so in LGOIMA terms the information is now publicly available pursuant to section 17 (d) of LGOIMA. The link for the recording is below and discussion that provides the answer to your questions begins at 1.25.03 minutes.
4 does not answer the obvious question as to why the work was not done prior to August 2018. Please answer, as a more specified LGOIMA question, why this work was not done for 20 months prior to August 2018.
As advised in my response to question 1, there were other major projects which impacted on staff time, and after speaking to Committee Chairs in 2017, the report was scheduled for completion in 2018. Then the PGF work, requiring close collaboration with ORC, began.
8 – Was the draft version of the Unitary Council report viewed by, or sent to, anyone else other than senior DCC staff? Specifically was it viewed by, or sent to, the Mayor or any DCC Councillors?
9 interim equivocal answer not accepted by me, as a reliable source of information confirms that a copy of the draft Unitary Council report has been viewed by senior ORC staff.
10 Please confirm unequivocally whether or not the draft Unitary Council report was shown by DCC staff to ORC staff, whether officially through the proper channels, or unofficially without any DCC record of the transfer of information?
Questions 9 and 10
The report was never shown to any ORC staff member or elected member.
The DCC CEO and the ORC’s CEO of the time (Peter Bodeker) did discuss the Unitary Council process and his views on process. This was at a regular meeting between them, held on 30 March 2017. The former CEO of the ORC did not receive a copy of the draft report, although Dr Bidrose had an early draft of the “process of becoming a unitary authority” with her at that meeting among a selection of other papers. The draft report, which on 30 March 2017, was a high level outline focussed on process, was physically on the table during their discussion, along with a range of other papers. It was therefore technically shown to Mr Bodeker. However, he did not read the report although he did view the outline of what he referred to as “a table of contents”. Mr Bodeker has further confirmed that neither Dr Bidrose or any other staff member gave him or sent him a copy of the draft report. The current CEO of the ORC (Sarah Gardner) has also confirmed that she never saw or was sent a copy of the draft report.
I have cc’ed the reply to those recipients of your original email and to the LGOIMA team for noting the reply.

On 27/05/2019, at 9:39 PM, Lee Vandervis <> wrote:
Thank you for your answers as below Sandy.
Regarding question
1, why have you still not said why this particular report received such low priority? Does your answer to 4 imply that this low prioritisation decision was the CEO’s? Why “was no date aimed for, for the report to go to Council.”? These remain pivotal and unanswered questions.
2 & 3 are answered by your attachment thank you
4 does not answer the obvious question as to why the work was not done prior to August 2018. Please answer, as a more specified LGOIMA question, why this work was not done for 20 months prior to August 2018. Your suggestion that “In August 2018 Councillors gave feedback agreeing to the work being done after the PGF (especially waterfront) work was completed “ is untrue in my case at least. I never gave feedback or agreed that the work be done after the PGF informally or otherwise. I did agree that the release of the report could be delayed at that time because of some suggested extreme ORC sensitivity while a Waterfront property deal was being negotiated.
This decision was in any event outside our proper decision-making framework. Having the CEO sidling up to individual Councillors over a cuppa suggesting the convenience of a delay in releasing the report in no way authorises staff to not do the work of duly confirmed resolution of Council.
5,6,&7 answers accepted
8 interim equivocal answer accepted, given time constraint, but an unequivocal answer is still sought under LGOIMA within LGOIMA time frames.
9 interim equivocal answer not accepted by me, as a reliable source of information confirms that a copy of the draft Unitary Council report has been viewed by senior ORC staff.
10 new LGOIMA request. Please confirm unequivocally whether or not the draft Unitary Council report was shown by DCC staff to ORC staff, whether officially through the proper channels, or unofficially without any DCC record of the transfer of information? I accept that this new LGOIMA request can only reasonably be actioned within normal LGOIMA 21 working day timeframes.
Looking forward to getting all the answers sought within 21 working days.
Kind regards,

Cr. Lee Vandervis

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Looking back at early emails sent regarding Unitary Council possibilities:

Imagine Unitary Dunedin [with apologies to John Lennon]

Imagine there’s one rates bill,
It’s easy if you try
One group of Councillors to vote for
And rates that aren’t so high
Imagine all Dunedin, building the same way

Imagine no duplication
It isn’t hard to do
One environmental set of guidelines
No fundamentalism too
Imagine all our citizens, with permits from one place

You may say we are dreamers
But we’re not the only ones
I hope some day you’ll vote Unitary
And then Dunedin can be as one

Imagine that there’s public transport
Roads and parking all run by the same
Bureaucracy with no division
Harbourside roads stores with the same aim
Imagine Port Otago, main port for the South

You may say we are dreamers
But we’re not the only ones
I hope some day you’ll vote Unitary
And then Dunedin will be as one


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Sandfly Bay

Sensational sun and sand dunes at Sandfly Bay today…

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