Democratic freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.

(Pericles c495 BC)


Cabinet appoints a Crown Manager for Kaipara

"Yipee!  Another three years in the trough."


See our Facebook page at Kaipara Concerns


STOP PRESS    30.08.2016
Candidates meeting at 7:30 pm tonight  (Monday 30 August) at Tangiteroria sports complex

It is on SH14 between Dargaville and Whangarei.

Candidates meeting for the local elections are set out below.


 Time and Date  Location  Sponsor
Sunday 4 Sept  1:30pm  Mangawhai School Gym Hall  MRRA
Monday 12 Sept  7:30pm  Paparoa Hall  Progressive Paparoa
Tuesday 13 Sept  7pm  Maungaturoto Hall  Rotary Club, Maungaturoto
Wednesday 14 Sept 7pm  Kaiwaka Sports Hall  Kaiwaka Sports Assoc
Thursday 15 Sept  7pm  Mangawhai Golf Club  Mangawhai Golf Club/MBDA

Whilst Associate Minister Louise Upston waxes eloquent about “the return of democracy to Kaipara” the reality is that it is a travesty of democracy; it is democracy chopped off at the knees and shoulders.

By degrees John Key’s government does what all autocratic governments do, they proclaim loudly to the masses that they are serving the high principles of democracy and the rule of law - and all the other basic principles of a democratic society - whilst at the same time behind the scenes, subtly and ignored by the media, they are slowly disenfranchising the people and imposing a system of government, central and local, that benefits the chosen ones at the expense of the general populace.

The newly elected democratic council of Kaipara is not going to be a council as mandated by the Local Government Act. It will, if the government has its way, be a mock council, a half-pie council with stunted powers and no-go areas involving fundamental issues and the future of Kaipara that will be the sole domain of the Cabinet appointed Minders.

But that is not all. The new Local Government Amendment Act is designed to ensure that the government can force amalgamation and unitary authorities on all councils irrespective of what the ratepayers want.

And then there is the issue of unelected Maori representation which is threatening to be a real election issue next year. Many councils throughout the country have already appointed unelected Maori representatives and the precedent will no doubt be followed by many more as the government pressures local authorities to toe the line. This is pay-back for the support of the Maori Party in Parliament.

This is an issue that Dr Muriel Newman and the NZ Centre for Political Research have brought to the attention of the voting public. The Centre is polling local election candidates in each council to see which of them supports democracy with only elected candidates making decisions and which ones are undermining democracy by supporting unelected appointees having voting rights.

The results so far can be seen here. To date none of the Kaipara candidates have responded. As the campaign progresses voters should press candidates either in writing, on websites, or in meetings, to make public their attitude to this fundamental issue.

THIS IS A GEM    27.08.2016
One of the things that has really irked ratepayers in Kaipara is the commissioners turning our townships into tank farms. The Tank Farm Trio – Robertson, Winder and Booth – have incorporated the Fire Service Rules into the District Plan which means all new houses have to have a concrete water tank that can only be used for firefighting.

The original requirement was for a 45,000 litre tank but by paying for an extortionate fee for a resource consent and jumping through all sorts of hoops this could be reduced to 10,000 litres.

This is the interesting bit.

Ratepayers are not to be trusted, so the Rules contain a provision that the water in the dedicated water tank can only be used by the Fire Service via a special coupling on the outlet of the tank. But that creates a problem.  In its summary of the Rules the commissioners state:

A homeowner cannot use this water while waiting for the Fire Service to arrive at their property to extinguish or retard the progress of the fire.

So despite the cost of a water tank and all the consents, and having ample water to fight the fire, the homeowner has to stand and watch whilst the house goes up in flames.

And, of course, when the fire brigade eventually arrives it brings with it its own water supply in an accompanying tanker.

Crazy stuff.

And don’t forget that the Rules require a 20 metre setback of all trees and vegetation from the house. In most residential lots that means a bare garden and even a neighbour’s trees could breach the rules.

The commissioners are currently assessing whether to change the Rules. With only six weeks ago before they quit the question is whether they will leave it for the new council to bring some common sense to bear or whether it will be part of Honest John’s legacy.

Honest John's legacy?

Little by little under the Key regime our democracy, our rights and the rule of law are gradually being whittled away without our knowledge.

The 2012 Local Government Amendment Act granted broad powers to the Minister of Local Government to effectively run a local authority that was out of step with government policies. The increased powers were introduced because the government had problems in 2012 under the previous legislation in bringing the errant KDC into line.

The new powers have now been used to appoint a Crown Manager and Crown Observer in Kaipara to ensure that the newly elected democratic council cannot pursue those responsible for the Kaipara debacle or resolve the rating issues fairly and in the best interests of ratepayers.

John Key also recently threatened to use the powers to appoint commissioners for Auckland City if the Unitary Plan was not adopted.

Another Local Government Amendment Act is before Parliament at the moment. This is what Worzel has to say about it:

The latest initiative in the Key government centralisation agenda is manifest in the proposed Better Local Services Bill. One of the longest serving and better performing mayors in New Zealand history has drawn attention to this Bill that threatens to further undermine New Zealand democracy and force centralisation upon an unwilling populace. In much the same way that they steamrollered their way through asset sales opposed by a majority of voters, so too they have now proposed a Bill that will allow state control of Local Govt services.

In an open letter to Mr Key, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadblow says: “Then along comes Central Government with a brand new Minister of Local Government and announces that they have a wonderful new plan for us. It’s called the Better Local Services Bill. How cute is that? In my view it should be called the ‘Crushing of Local Government Democracy and Seizing Control of Their Assets Bill’. I feel that I have no other option than to vigorously oppose your latest attempt at reforming local government.”

But that’s not all. The NZ Lawyer in an article headed All New Zealanders should be very worried draws attention to a last minute government amendment to the Health and Safety Bill currently before Parliament. According to the NZ Lawyer:

The provisions will allow a person to be tried and convicted of a criminal offence without seeing all the information relied on by the Crown and without the right to be present - or to have their representative present - during all the proceedings.

The New Zealand Law Society maintains that the processes inserted by Schedule 2A directly impact on very significant constitutional rights:

“Because Schedule 2A was not in the Bill when introduced, it has not been subject to the Bill of Rights vetting process and will miss public consultation and input.”

So what? As long as there is no major outcry and the docile main-stream media side-steps controversial issues, Teflon John will ignore peripheral protests knowing that the majority of New Zealanders don’t give a toss about their rights.

In the post THEY’RE AT IT AGAIN 15.08.2016 I referred to the omission of my submission from the report on the Wastewater Drainage Policy and Bylaw that the KDC had prepared.

As a result of my complaint to the commissioners and CEO Graham Sibery I received a telephone call from Venessa Anich of the KDC apologising for the oversight. Apparently my submission had got “caught up in the system”.

She intimated that I would receive correspondence from the KDC on the matter.

Nothing so far. However I note that my submission was included in an amended version of the report which is available here.

In the latest Letters to the Editor in the Mangawhai Focus Christian Simon, who is standing for Mayor, puts forward the following proposition:

The current policy of the district amounts to this: a poor family living in a garage and with a modern composting toilet that avoids any pollution pays about $250 each year to subsidise a flushing toilet for a multi-million dollar property owner at the waterfront in Mangawhai. Can this possibly be right and just? Everyone who stands for this election has to answer this question.

That outcome was never intended. In the early days the KDC adopted a “segmented debt policy” for the EcoCare debt which was the brain-child of Larry Mitchell.

Under this policy the normal borrowing ratios for the Council’s debts could be ignored if the debt for the specific project were treated separately (“segmented’) from the general debts, and (this is important) all the costs relating to the project could be recompensed from those who were connected to the new facility. There could be no recovery from the general ratepayer.

It was deemed that on the financial models provided by some top accountancy firm in Australia that the EcoCare debt could be supported by those connected to the system.

Of course the whole thing was a farce, as was everything else related to EcoCare. How could 1,500 connections support a debt of $60 million and pay for the annual overheads?

The treasury policies of the KDC including the debt to income ratios and the segmented debt criteria were all ignored as the KDC went on a wild spending spree enriching contractors, consultants and advisers, and just about everyone associated with the scheme.

The KDC’s auditor – the Auditor-General and Audit New Zealand - sat and fiddled as Kaipara was pillaged.

Rather than attack the unlawfulness of the debt and make recoveries from those responsible, the government directed the commissioners to ensure that the debt became the sole responsibility of the only innocent party involved in the rort – the ratepayers.

Pursuing this policy, the commissioners split the debt into three parts. Users of the EcoCare scheme were to be responsible for the amount that they were promised the scheme would cost. All ratepayers in the district were to be responsible for part of the balance – presumably on the basis that all ratepayers should pay for the stuff-ups of their council. The third part was allocated to future users of the scheme, with the interest on that part of the debt being capitalised.

The problem is that the whole scheme has almost reached its capacity and will need a massive injection of further capital (i.e. debt) to accommodate future users. The development contributions of those future users will be used up paying for new reticulation and servicing new debt for expansion of the scheme. There will be nothing left to meet the interest and principal of the old debt.

The truth is that the DEBT will haunt Kaipara for generations to come. Forget all the rubbish that Honest John spouts about balancing the books and putting the past behind. The reality is that the DEBT has emptied the cupboards of Kaipara. The Mangawhai Endowment Fund disappeared years ago and is just a fantasy that the commissioners like to spin. Likewise the various funds accumulated for reserves and flood protection etc, and the provision for depreciation. All poured into the bottomless pit.

The Fire Service requirements that are turning Mangawhai into a tank farm and the proposed WOF for onsite sewerage systems are nothing more than grabs for money. And ask any developer about the extortionate fees that the Council is charging for consents.

Christian Simon’s premise of “user pays” is laudable but that is not the situation here.

When ratepayers are being forced pay the EcoCare debt they are not paying for a sewerage system that is used by others, they are paying for the “Folly” that was committed by their council and many others. If “user pays” is to apply then those who were responsible for the “Folly” should be responsible for meeting the debt.

John Key has jumped in with some alacrity in Havelock North and ordered an inquiry into the water contamination in the district. He has even suggested that criminal charges or civil charges could be laid against anyone found responsible.

That speedy action has to be contracted with his response to the more far-reaching debacle in Kaipara where rorters were allowed to pilfer tens of millions of dollars from the local council in flagrant breach of the law, the Council’s treasury policies and in breach of all audit requirements.

In the Kaipara case the Auditor-General and its side-kick Audit New Zealand turned a blind eye to the rorts. When ratepayers presented detailed submissions showing flagrant and persistent breaches of the law by the KDC, the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman, the Minster of Local Government, and John Key all refused to take any action. They advised that it was a matter for the courts to decide.

And when ratepayers challenged the legality of the KDC’s actions in the High Court the government- backed commissioners did all they could to strike out the proceeding on the basis that there was no cause of action.

When that failed the commissioners and the government conspired to pass a validation act validating all the illegalities and ensuring that ratepayers were punished with vindictive penalties.

Whilst John Key suggests criminal and civil actions in Havelock North, in Kaipara his government took every step that they could to ensure that those responsible were not held to account. They are all swanning around as if nothing happened whilst the ratepayers of the district will bear the financial burden of their malfeasance for generations to come.

The Auditor-General escaped any finding of negligence by the courts, and Parliament – her employer – simply ignored her gross incompetence. The CEO who wreaked the havoc will get off scot-free and will be protected in perpetuity by the government-appointed Crown Manager. The consultants and advisers whose incompetence was remarkable were allowed to slope away. Even the councillors who were responsible for crippling Kaipara escaped any liability and are free to put themselves forward for election to the new council.

But that is John Key’s New Zealand.

WORZEL'S WORLD   24.08.2016
Take a look at Worzel's latest column in the Mangawhai Focus.

His comments on democracy, the ruthless regime of the commissioners, and the government becoming the enemy of democracy should be compulsory reading for all people in the district.

The debacle over the Havelock North water supply is another reminder of the incompetence of local authorities in New Zealand. Largely they are run by a bunch of amateurs who have little idea of what they are doing, with very little expert advice to draw on.

If you read Brian Rudman’s article in the NZ Herald It would appear that it is nothing more than a matter of good luck that more New Zealanders are not poisoned by their local water supply.

Given the crisis in Hawkes Bay one must have real concerns for the quality of water provided by the Kaipara District Council. I do not know how it tests reticulated drinking water where it is available but if its track record on testing the harbour waters is anything to go by then the alarm bells should be ringing. Its approach to testing water quality is utterly amateurish and shows a total disregard for genuine scientific analysis.

The latest proposal of the Council to introduce WOFs for sewerage systems on the premise that our harbours are polluted and the cause is onsite sewerage systems is a disgraceful attempt to extort monies for ratepayers based on financial greed and with no scientific basis.

Earlier posts on this website have highlighted the contradiction between Honest John’s recent advice that there has been little testing of our harbour waters and the conclusions in the statement of proposal justifying the annual WOF for on-site sewerage systems because of “well documented evidence” that the harbour is polluted and that the cause is on-site sewerage systems.

In response to an Official Information request querying the existence and the reliability of the “evidence”, the KDC has advised:

The Wastewater Drainage Policy and Wastewater Drainage Bylaw was developed with the help of our professional advisor, consultant Rob Bates. Input was also sought from the Northland Regional Council, Council’s consulting engineers and it was reviewed by our legal advisors.

It adds that it is impossible to identify any particular staff member who was responsible for the conclusions in the report. The comment about the “well documented evidence” is ascribed to the Auditor-General and to NRC studies.

The Auditor-General’s findings in her EcoCare report that there was “clear evidence” of poor water quality back in the early 2000s was based solely on what she was told by the Council, and on some vague unsubstantiated comments about earlier surveys in the 2003 statement of proposal for EcoCare which was prepared by the contractor at that stage, Simon Engineering.

The NRC surveys date back to 1996 and 1997 (i.e. 20 years ago), and found some evidence of pollution and simply guessed at “the likely cause”.

To base a policy and bylaw in 2016 on such out-dated, inconclusive reports reflects the standard of governance that Kaipara has been blighted with by the government-directed commissioners. Their total failure to put the horse before the cart and ensure that any reactive polices are based on prior, thorough and processional research shows their total disinterest in doing things competently and with integrity.

It will be fascinating to see whether, following the exposure of the lack of evidence to substantiate the adoption of the wastewater policy and bylaw, and the negative submissions received from ratepayers, the commissioners have the brazenness to ignore the lack of scientific research and the will of people and impose this new ticket-clipping burden on ratepayers.

It is also remarkable that the silent villain of the piece – bovine pollution – escapes without any mention in Kaipara, whilst in Hawkes Bay the finger is being levelled at cows as the cause of pollution of the water, and, closer to home, Millan Ruka in the Bream Bay News has presented telling evidence of bovine pollution of the Waipu and Ruakaka River catchment areas. Perhaps the commissioners realise that it’s hard to make cows pay council charges, and the farmers responsible appear to be Teflon-coated. On the other hand ratepayers, as usual, are the easy targets.

Is this the real culprit?

Any decision on the wastewater policy and bylaw will be made at the Council meeting of 26 September, the commissioners’ final meeting.


(Please advise any other sites) 

Bruce Rogan  See below

Libby Jones   http://www.libbyjones.co.nz/

Anna Curnow  http://www.voteforanna.co.nz/

Peter Wethey  https://www.facebook.com/peterwethey1/?sk=timeline&app_data&pnref=story

Victoria de la Varis Woodcock  See post on 16.08.16 on https://www.facebook.com/Kaipara-Concerns-204339632917746/


• A vote for Bruce Rogan Number 1 for mayor is a vote for democracy. .

• My candidacy boils down to respect for democracy.

• True Democracy defeats the excesses of corporate power. The counter to the corporates is community empowerment, and my commitment and integrity.

• Some people say “You can’t fight City Hall”. I think democracy is our means of changing City Hall for the better. No Council should behave in a way that causes distress for ratepayers.

• A defining feature of my candidacy is reviving democracy in this community.

• Democracy is the basis of our civil society. My great-grandfather, Judge John Rogan the founding judge of the Maori Land Court, who lived in Te Kopuru, passed on to me his legacy of seeking fairness for all through disputes resolution. Our family is proud of its strong historical and on-going links to the Kaipara.

• As mayor I will transform Kaipara into a District that works for its people. I would not have to work alone. Thousands of Kaipara ratepayers want a better deal than they are getting.

• With the help of the government’s Crown Manager, I will do everything I can to lift the illegal burdens off Kaipara’s ratepayers. I served on council for three years, 2001-2004, and sounded unheeded warnings about where Council was headed. With my knowledge and experience of local government we will learn the lessons from the past, rather than simply ignoring them. We will plan for a successful affordable future.

• Uniquely, as your mayor, I will hit the ground running. That’s real Value for money!

Bruce Rogan.

The final list of candidates for the Kaipara local election (with their affiliation in brackets) is shown below.

Kaipara District Council Candidate Final List

GENT Greg (none)
ROGAN Bruce (Independent)
SIMON Christian (none)
TANE Jay Ben (none)

Councillors (8)

Dargaville Ward (2 members)
BOYD Peter (none)
JOYCE-PAKI Karen (none)
WADE Andrew (Independent)

Otamatea Ward (3 members)
BONNER Adrian (Independent)
HAMES Ken (none)
JEPSON Craig (none)
JONES Libby (none)
LARSEN Jonathan (none)
SAMPSON Lynda (Independent)
SCOTHERN Philip Shaw (Independent)
WETHEY Peter (Independent)

West Coast/Central Ward (3 members)
CURNOW Anna (none)
DEL LA VARIS-WOODCOCK Victoria (Independent)
GEANGE Julie (Independent)
TANE Jay Ben (none)

THEY’RE AT IT AGAIN    15.08.2016
Our government-imposed masters – Booth, Robertson and Winder - are up to their dirty tricks again.

You will recall that the Wastewater Drainage Policy and Proposed Bylaw were open to ratepayers written submissions recently. The submissions are now to be heard in person on this Tuesday 16 August in the Mangawhai Domain Hall, Moir Street, Mangawhai, commencing at 2.00pm.

A report on the proposed meeting and copies of submissions received can be seen here.

The interesting thing is that the report states that 15 submissions were received but in fact copies of 16 submissions are attached to the report.

What is more interesting is that the lengthy submission of Legal Eagle and Mrs Eagle has been completely excluded from the report and presumably from any consideration.

The report also states that the electronic copies of submissions from ratepayers are available through the Council’s website. They are only to be found as part of the report and exclude the Eagles’ submissions.

This is either shoddy work from council staff or a deliberate decision by the commissioners to exclude a submission that was highly critical of the proposal and scathing about the commissioners introducing such a measure immediately prior to their departure.

This was a matter that should be decided by the new democratic council.

In addition, Legal Eagle is still waiting for a response to his Official Information request to find out which staff member and which consultant were responsible for the utterly misleading conclusions that the Harbour is polluted and that on-site systems were to blame.

There is not one skerrick of scientific evidence to establish that conclusion. Honest John has stated that and that is why tests are being carried out at present.

A formal complaint is being lodged with the commissioners and the CEO this morning. It will be interesting to see if they hide behind the smoke.

The majority of submissions are opposed to the Policy and bylaw but that will not stop the steamroller. The decision has already been made in Wellington.

WHY THE COYNESS?    05.08.2016
With only 1 week to go before nominations close for the October election there has been a remarkable lack of candidates indicating that they will stand for council.

Louise Upston (with the help of the Department of Internal Affairs) has been the mistressmind behind the pseudo-democracy being imposed on Kaipara and she has had a bevy of selected National Party supporters in the district the she meets with to plan strategy.

They supported the extension of the regime of the commissioners for another year from 2015 to 2016 and no doubt they are behind the appointment of the two gorillas, the Crown Manger and the Crown Observer, who will between them effectively dictate what the new council does.

It also seems most likely that part of the plan is to put forward a team of candidates that will complement the Crown appointees and ensure that the rorts and illegalities of the past are well and truly buried, that the perpetrators escape scot-free, and that ratepayers are dumped with the illegal debts. In other words they will ensure that Kaipara is run directly from Wellington.

I suspect that from a tactical point of view there will be no public announcement, with the nominations being made without any fanfare just before the closing of nominations.

WHO WILL IT BE?     05.08.2016
Why are we waiting? It is some weeks since the Crown Manager was appointed but there is still no word on who is to be the new Crown Observer.

Are they struggling to find someone with the competence for the job or is simply a tactical move to wait until the nominations for Mayor and councillors close?

Peter Winder, commissioner and Crown Manger appointee commented in the Mangawhai Focus on the role of the Crown Observer:

The next appointment by Hon Louise Upston will be that of Crown Observer whose brief will be as a ‘critical friend’ to council with no decision-making power but a watching brief to perhaps intervene in any areas of difficulty with advice and/or guidance. It is important that newly-elected council members have the right support to be successful in their demanding and somewhat complex role.

Which would suggest that the "critical friend" should have a profound knowledge and experience of local government. But given the track record of the departing commissioners it is more than likely that they will appoint a bunny who knows nothing about local government.

Take a look at the appointment that Winder, Booth and Robertson made for CEO. The CEO is the lynchpin of a council: the adviser to the council responsible for all the council staff, the records of council, compliance with the law and ensuring that the council acts lawfully, follows good accounting practice and acts with due diligence.

That cannot be disputed by anyone.

That being the case, why did the three wise men appoint an absolute bunny who has no experience or knowledge of local government?

Why did they appoint a totally inexperienced person when the situation was screaming for a skilful and experienced operator?

Why did they appoint him for the maximum term allowed by law of 4 years?

And why did they appoint him just before the new council took office?

Are they buffoons? Or it is all part of a plan to justify the appointment of the Crown gorillas because the new CEO, as well as the new councillors, are all babes in the wood, and will need the guidance and help of Mummy and Daddy Gorilla?

So don’t hold your breath about the appointment of the Crown Observer. Think outside the square. How about David Beckham? His football career may be close to an end and he and Peter Winder go back a long way. He may know nothing about New Zealand and even less about local government, but those qualifications must almost guarantee him the job.

One has to feel sorry for Graham Sibery. We don’t know the man and we are trying not to be unfair to him. Some people say give him a fair go. But that is not the point. This job is highly paid and demanded the appropriate expertise and experience. In appointing him Winder, Booth and Robertson have stuffed up completely. Quite simply they did not appoint a candidate that was fit for purpose.

Or perhaps they did. But it was for a different purpose altogether.

Andrew Wade, a former councillor under the Tiller/McKerchar regime, has raised his hand for election as a councillor in October.

Full details can be seen in the Kaipara Lifestyler.

Whale Oil has been remarkably astute in his assessment of the illegal exercise of powers by the Auckland City Council – and other councils - in his post here.

He opens up with:

Let me start by stating that Councils are notorious for ignoring case law (court interpretation of the law) in favour of their own interpretation.

It is not just case law. We have seen with the Kaipara District Council, during both the Tiller/McKerchar regime and during the reign of Honest John and his mates, that the requirements of the LGA and the LGRA were consistently ignored.

Councils ignore the law quite simply because they can. It is a fundamental principle of administrative law that an action or decision of a local authority is deemed lawful until a court of competent jurisdiction rules otherwise.

So, a local authority can make a decision which is blatantly in breach of the law with the knowledge that in law it will viewed as perfectly legal.

In administrative law there is no police force to take action when there is reasonable cause to believe a breach of the law has been committed. The watchdogs in local government - the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman, the Minister of Local Government, and the Department of Internal Affairs - have all shown that they are not concerned with breaches of the law by local authorities. They will simply ignore them, and if it looks likely that a court might declare an action to be unlawful the government will wheel in the validating machine to retrospectively validate the unlawfulness.

Ratepayers are, of course free to challenge any decision in court, but, as we have seen, that is a soul-destroying and costly exercise and the courts in New Zealand appear to be more interested in political outcomes rather than applying the black letter of the law.

Whale Oil goes on to comment about councils meddling in how land owners deal with their properties and that such interference should stop. He states:

It is important to pause and take stock that limitations on authorities are utterly important if we are to live in a purely democratic and free society. As soon as property rights are reduced in favour of a few controlling people in society then we’ve taken the first step towards a feudal dictatorial state. That notion is inconsistent with freedom and liberty.

He concludes:

Control isn’t always at the barrel of a gun like we see in some dictatorial countries around the world. All one needs to control another is power. Permission is power over another. It’s subtle by (but) also all consumingly dangerous in a free society. The power to grant permission to another person to do something when they should have the right to act freely is always a step too far. In some countries like Germany those rights to build on one’s own land are enshrined in constitutional law. Why? Because it safeguards freedom from those who would seek to take and dispense it at their will. Just like a fascist dictator.

Cameron Slater (Whale Oil) has always been seen as a supporter of John Key's government and his criticism is indicative of an increasing concern about the direction the present government is taking.  Media commentators are becoming more critical of John Key's lack of planning, his apparent disdain for the underclasess, and the gradual erosion of basic rights.

As we know Greg Gent has put his hand up for Mayor in the forthcoming elections.  Two candidates for councillors have announced that they will be standing: Peter Wethey in Otamatea and Anna Curnow in West Coast Central. 

Peter Wethey's details can be seen here and Anna Curnow's details are here

The Tiller/McKerchar regime illustrated a sublime mix of incompetence and arrogance in exercising the powers delegated to them under the LGA and the LGRA. But they are not alone. We have seen the commissioners’ arrogant disdain for consultation with the community and that even continues whilst some of them are packing their bags ready for their next junket.

This whole business of the wastewater polluting the Mangawhai Harbour and the proposal for a bylaw compelling onsite sewerage systems to have a warrant of fitness, superbly illustrates that the mix of incompetence and arrogance is still thriving in Kaipara.

If the Harbour is polluted then action should be taken. But the first question is to ascertain by scientific testing whether the Harbour is polluted. And that means proper, professional and comprehensive testing, not just urban myths and hearsay.

Readers of the Mangawhai Focus will be horrified to read that the new testing process recommended by Honest John’s carefully selected Advisory Panel is, according to the letter from Barbara Pengelly only testing a few locations in the Harbour and ignoring the sites that are the most important. So the results that we will be bombarded with will be totally baseless and will no doubt reach conclusions based on scanty evidence but massive doses of spin.

Apparently the Advisory Panel have rebuffed suggestions of a more comprehensive study.

It amazes me how people of some intelligence and experience allow themselves to be influenced by political persuasions and predetermined outcomes when approaching matters that require nothing more than honest and thorough scientific analysis. But give these folks a bit of power and their values seem to evaporate.

Just when is the spin and bullshit going to end?

WHEN SPIN BECOMES A LIE     28.07.2016
Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston and appointee Crown Manager Peter Winder have already been taken to task on this website for their deceptive comments about the role of the Crown Manager. The spin and misleading statements continue with the article in this week’s Mangawhai Focus headed “Crown Manger to support Kaipara District Council”.

The “support” that is mentioned is not what one might expect, that is a subordinate, helping role to advise the elected council in making its decisions. The only way that it is supportive is in the sense that a large part of the council’s responsibility is taken away from it and becomes the sole domain of the Crown Manager.

There are certain no-go areas that the democratic council cannot tread, where the Crown Manager has complete and exclusive powers to make decisions without any reference to the elected council.

These powers are spelt out in full in the terms of reference.

Peter Winder is quoted in the Focus article as saying that the terms of reference do not have to be carried out to the nth degree. That is simply not true. That is the statutory role that he has been appointed to and those are his statutory powers.

Ratepayers can rest assured that those powers will be used to their full if that proves necessary.

Look at the following scenarios. Say, a liberal council is elected which wants to:

• Challenge the validity of the EcoCare debts on the basis that they were not entered into in good faith and therefore not protected transactions.

• Remit all of the vindictive penalties added to the rates of rate strikers.

• Issue legal proceeding in the High Court against Jack McKerchar and the former councillors for negligence.

• Issue proceedings in the High Court against the KDC’s former consultants and lawyers.

• Withdraw the legal claims outstanding against ratepayers.

• Take action to comply with the rulings of Duffy J in the High Court

• Issue legal proceedings for negligence against the commissioners

The truth is that no matter what the elected councillors want to do and no matter what the ratepayers want them to do, they will have absolutely no say in any of these matters. Any decision will be made by the Crown Manager in conjunction with John Key, his cabinet and the Department of Internal Affairs. Such a decision will be based strictly on political considerations. Those considerations are:

• Ratepayers are to be held solely responsible for all unlawful debts.

• All those who work in or for local government are to be exempted from any legal liability

• All unlawful actions of a local authority are to be retroactively validated by Parliament.

• All rate strikers and whistle-blowers are to be penalised with draconian penalties to discourage protests.

The government is desperately trying to pull down the curtain on the murky past of Kaipara as though it is all over and done. But the skeletons of the past still haunt the present as the judgment of Duffy J will hopefully highlight. A finding that the rates for many, many years, and including the current year, are unlawful is not part of the past. It is a massive problem for the present that must be resolved by the elected representatives of ratepayers and not by a government stooge.

And what of the illegal debt? John Key is happy to dump it on Kaipara ratepayers for generations to come and try and stop ratepayers from continuing the challenge, but the reality is that the viability of Kaipara in the present, and for generations to come, depends on that debt being shared amongst those who are responsible.

Peter Winder may project himself in his new role as an obedient monkey dancing to the tune of the organ-grinder. The reality is that he is an 800 pound gorilla who, when the time is ripe, will crush the organ-grinder and his organ.


The spin

The reality

"Let me make myself perfectly clear ...."

In the same article Peter Winder mentions that the next appointment is that of the Crown Observer whose brief will be as a "critical friend" with no decision-making power.  That is at odds with the Local Goverment Act and it will be interesting to see what spin accompanies the announcement of that appointment.

The odds are shortening on Honest John getting the nod.

VALE BILL GUEST   26.07.2016
Readers will be sad to learn that Bill Guest, farmer and ex KDC councillor passed away on the weekend.  Whilst a councillor Bill was an outspoken critic of the the council under Neil Tiller and Jack McKerchar.

Full details can be seen in the Northern Advocate here.

RIO, IOC and KDC      26.07.2016
The media is ablaze with negative comments about the IOC being gutless in not banning Russia from the Rio games. The local press sits on its high horse and takes the high principled approach.

But where was that same media over the last few years when John Key and his Cabinet (with the help of its appointed minions) did everything they could to cover up the outrageous and persistent illegalities of the Kaipara District Council?

Where was the media when Key and Co threw the rule of law and the fundamentals of democracy out of the window to ensure that the innocent ratepayers of Kaipara were dumped with unlawful rates and unlawful debts?

Since then John Key’s appointed henchmen have ensured that all those responsible for the Kaipara debacle escape from any liability, and, even when the new ”democratic” council is in place in August, John Key and his Cabinet will still be able to prevent any pursuit of the guilty parties through his directly appointed Bovver Boy, the Crown Manager.

John Key and his Cabinet make the IOC look quite tame. At least the IOC has not retrospectively validated all the negative drug tests of Russian athletes, taken steps to ensure that only Russians are awarded medals at Rio, and enacted new rules to impose intimidatory fines on protesting athletes from other countries.

The deadline for submissions on the wastewater drainage policy and bylaw is next Monday 1 August.

For full details go here.

It is best if you draft your own comments and do not use the KDC online form which like all such forms from the KDC is drafted in such a way that you automatically approve the actions they are taking but have only a limited say on peripheral matters.

Feel free to use any comments on this website.

We should be taking every step we can to ensure that the rights to consultation are fully observed by the commissioners.  They rely on the apathy of ratepayers to push through their crazy ideas (eg the insane idea to turn Magical Mangawhai into a tank farm), but cannot cope if a large section of the community comes out against them.  So hassle all your friends and get them to make a submission and stop this warrant of fitness nonsense until we have a new council and until we have scientific proof that the Harbour is actually polluted and, if so, what is responsible for the pollution.

With some hesitation this website has opened a page on Facebook.  See the link above.

Please take a look and feel free to post your opinions on matters relating to the issues that the website deals with.  I am struggling to come to terms with the Facebook process, so any help would be appreciated.

The right to make decisions in respect of water is being transferred to iwi and now the control of the sea is being placed in their hands as well, without any of us knowing about it.  The control of the Hauraki Gulf is being transferred to a Board whose majority is made up of unelected tribal represntatives.

Read Fiona McKenzie's article A Grab for the Gulf here.

OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS - Remarkable quotes

On Winston Peters

Ed Said in Mangawhai Focus on Winston Peters’ speech in Kaipara.

Remember the TV sitcom Seinfeld?

It ran successfully for nine seasons and was often described as being "a show about nothing". That was exactly what Winston delivered without most recognising it.

On Democracy

Ed Said in Mangawhai Focus:

We heard that, while local body minister Amy Adams* encouraged locals to vote in the upcoming elections she never once mentioned the word ‘democracy.’ So What?? According to many, New Zealand hasn’t arguably been democratic for some time. Perhaps Winston (there’s that name again) Churchill had it right when he said "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

*Actually it was Louise Upston

On Mangawhai Harbour Pollution

KDC statement of proposal on wastewater drainage policy and bylaw (4.1 Sensitive receiving environments):

There is well documented evidence and acceptance that privately owned onsite wastewater systems at Mangawhai have contributed to the degradation of the water quality in the Mangawhai Harbour with associated public health, safety and environmental issues.

Commissioner John Robertson in the Mangawhai Focus (slow to download):

You may be surprised to know that little testing has been done in the past; to understand harbour health a systematic and co-ordinated approach is needed that gives us knowledge of trends relating to the harbour’s health.

WHO IS IT GOING TO BE?    18.07.16
Any day soon we can expect Associate Local Government Minister, Louise Upston, to announce who is to be fill the vacant space at the Kaipara trough.

Peter Winder, one of the three commissioners, has been appointed as Crown Manager and we now await the appointment of his co-ruler, the  Crown Observer.

There is strong betting in favour of Honest John, so that effectivelyy the situation will not change with the Robertson-Winder diarchy still running the show.

The rocky road to Democracy in Kaipara

Because of their failure to consult properly the commissioners have now extended the consultation period for this statement of proposal until 1 August 2016.

Ratepayers are encouraged to read the proposals, read the criticism on this website and elsewhere, formulate thei own views, and then make submissions to the KDC on or before 1 August.

Details of the proposals and submission form can be seen here .

You are encouraged not to use the KDC submission form as the questions are all geared towards an acceptance of the proposal, with your views only relevant for minor issues.

Earlier posts can be seen on this page   - scroll down

The main issues that you need to consider are:

1. Should the commissioners, who have no democratic mandate, be pushing through with indecent haste a new policy and a new bylaw when they only have two months of their regime left?  This is the sort of issue that must be left to a democratically elected council.

2. Do the the presumptions on which the whole proposal is based have any basis in fact?

The proposal is based on two factors:

* The Mangawhai Harbour is polluted

* Onsite sewerage systems are the cause of the problem.

The proposal states categorically:

4.1 Sensitive receiving environments

There is well documented evidence and acceptance that privately owned onsite wastewater systems at Mangawhai have contributed to the degradation of the water quality in the Mangawhai Harbour with associated public health, safety and environmental issues. Onsite wastewater systems are still a concern for the ongoing health of sensitive receiving environments.

Suspecting that there is no such "well documented evidence", I sought more information from the KDC under the Official Information Act..

The reply that I received from Linda Osborne of the Council can be viewed here.  My comments on the response can also be viewed.

The recently appointed Crown Manager for Kaipara, Peter Winder, has commenced his spin campaign to minimise and misrepresent his role in the yet to be elected council.

In a response to a Radio New Zealand enquiry Mr Winder said he would have authority to make decisions relating to debt and rates but the government's terms of reference make it clear he must consult and support the councillors.

The problem is that the terms of reference state nothing of the sort.

They state quite categorically that the Crown Manager is to take responsibility for existing and future legal actions relating to EcoCare and the setting of rates. In other words the decision-making in these areas is the sole domain of the Crown Manager.

The only reference to consultation with councillors relates to only two matters:

The Crown Manager must consult the elected Council before he or she decides to initiate new legal actions or discontinue current legal actions.

Two specific matters, and consultation only. And we all know that consultation commissioner-style is nothing more than a charade.

In fact section 258D(4) of the LGA states that the Crown Manager “must direct the local authority”. And on the other side of the coin, section 258D states that a local authority must (a) co-operate with a Crown Manager, and (b) comply with the directions of a Crown Manager.

The LGA gets even more draconian. Under section 258F(1)(b), the Minister can appoint a Commission to take over the council (and terminate the powers of the elected members) ”if the local authority refuses or is unable to comply with a direction of a Crown Manager”.

Peter Winder and his henchmen have a track record of simply acting on instructions from Wellington without any consultation, even where they have a clear legal obligation to consult. They launched the Validation Bill without any consultation with ratepayers and in doing so reneged unilaterally on the understanding with the former elected Council that the issue of illegal rates would be a joint decision between the Council and ratepayers.

Peter Winder has a reputation as an uncompromising bully-boy and there is absolutely no doubt that he has been appointed a Crown Manager to prevent a new, liberal council from pursuing those responsible for the unlawful losses of the KDC, from refunding the vicious and unconscionable penalties imposed on rate strikers, from challenging the “good faith” of ABNAmro in its protected transactions with the KDC, and from instituting proceedings against the commissioners for their dismal failure in taking action, or failing to take action promptly, to recover the unlawful losses of the KDC.

His job is to keep the lid well and truly on Pandora’s Box and protect the reputation of those who have plundered the KDC and its ratepayers, and the reputation of those who have failed in their duties and sat by and let the plunder happen.

He is also there to take control of the fall-out that the government expects from the decision of Duffy J in the High Court. The government is wetting itself in anticipation of the broad implications that any pro-ratepayer judgment will have on not only Kaipara but the whole of local government.

Peter Winder’s role is to ensure that the new council or ratepayers have no control over or say in the outcome. The government already has a plan in place to cripple any court decision and Peter Winder will move as soon as the decision is delivered.

We are now waiting to see who will be appointed as Crown Observer, the other eight hundred pound gorilla, to ensure that the new council does not wander off the path laid out by John Key.



Doug Bone (ratepayer)

As you say, we have been well and truly stitched up!

Then there is the position of Mayor. If Gent stands, and nobody else bothers, then that will effectively be another Government appointment.

Then there are the Councillors. You can bet that most have already been hand-picked by the Commissars and had their brainwashing. Of course there will be a couple of token gestures in the form of “real” candidates, for what they will be worth.

So what the hell can we do ???

The sad thing is that most ratepayers are blissfully unaware of what is happening. They all think we’ve seen the last of the Commissioners after this Election.

RBR (ratepayer)

This ******* who has been put in to lord it over Kaipara’s ratepayers, will be a full time operator and he will charge $900.00 per day, for up to 7 days per week for three years.

Nothing in his brief says that he cannot charge for 7 days of each week and if he does that he will be collecting $328,000 per year, plus all expenses, such as accommodation and travel. But even if he has all the weekends off he will be costing us $234,000. So, the rates from somewhere between fifty and one hundred properties will be swallowed up by this totally unaccountable government-imposed autocrat.

And be aware, he cannot be held accountable for anything that he does, even if it has the effect of bankrupting the district, because, so long as he can show that he acted in “good faith” (which will be a determination made solely by his mate, the minister) he is absolutely unaccountable.

What is it going to take to wake this community up?

Levi (ratepayer):

We have witnessed :

•  government flunkies appointed to dispel any democratic considerations;

•  extension of their term to thwart the promised return to democracy;

•  a charade of an election that will result in a council that will have no say in running the district in accordance with government dictates;

•  appointment of a new CEO who apparently has a checkered background and no experience of local government;

•  and now - appointment of a Crown Manager (who will be boss) and a CrownObserver (adviser to the boss). We will have to pay for these people (at $900 a day plus expenses) as well as a mayor and elected councillors.

It appears that any outcome from the legal actions against the KDC and/or the NRC is being cut off at the pass - before any judgment has even been issued.

Also any thought of taking action against the numerous parties responsible for this mind-numbing treachery has been sideswiped by government decree.

Just how far are the ratepayers of Kaipara willing to be pushed and manipulated so that government wishes can be carried out?

Isn't it well past time we stood together to protest against all this slavery?


On the national stage Prime Minister John Key is struggling to exert any leadership as he ducks and dives and dithers over Auckland’s problems. His lack of planning, his ad hoc approach and his lack of solutions is making him look more and more “clueless” by the day.

He is looking like a hunted man, brittle and out of his depth.

Brexit in the UK, the Trump phenomenon in the US, and the split election in Australia have all sent out warnings that the underclasses are sick and tired of governments pandering to the elite. But John Key seems unable to read the new political climate and seems unable to take any actions that might offend those who have enriched themselves under his regime.

The underclasses seem to be irrelevant in his considerations and by ignoring the winds of popular opinion his political future has become very much aligned to the housing crisis in Auckland.

He has now committed an act of extreme arrogance that in the end may be the trigger for his political downfall. With his Teflon John image and what is termed a Third Term Arrogance he has shown less and less consideration for fairness and justice, has become more autocratic, with the result that many former supporters are leaving him in droves.

This latest action on Kaipara is the icing on the cake. No doubt he thinks that he can slide it through without it being noticed and tart it up with a heavy dose of spin, but his attack on the people of Kaipara and their right to democracy is nothing more than shameful.

The announcement a couple of days ago from Associate Minister of Local Government Louise Upston (see earlier posts) about the appointment of Peter Winder as Crown Manager was full of her usual deceptive understatements. She emphasised that the Crown Manager and the Crown Observer are being appointed to help and support a new, inexperienced council.

The reality is different. The actual terms of reference of the Crown Manager were not referred to by Louise Upston, and not surprisingly. They are, in a word, brutal.

They can be seen here.

In short, the Crown Manager will be:

taking responsibility for any outstanding and future legal actions relating to the development of the Scheme, and the setting or collection of rates during and prior to the Kaipara Commission’s term on the Council’s behalf.

This is spelt out in detail:

Extent of Authority

The Crown Manager will manage outstanding and future legal actions relating to the development of the Scheme and the setting or collection of rates during and prior to the Kaipara Commission’s term on behalf of the newly elected Council, including the following matters:

• The Council’s legal action against the Council’s former Chief Executive;

• any additional legal actions against any party relating to the development or operation of the Scheme prior to 2013;

• the judicial review action against the Council challenging the legality of rates and penalties relating to the 2011/12 to 2015/16 rating years (CIV-2015-488-95);

• any additional legal actions against the Council relating to rates for the 2016/17 rating year and prior rating years; and

• any legal action that is required by the Council to collect rates due for the 2016/17 rating year and prior rating years.

The Crown Manager is therefore able to:

• make decisions relating to the legal actions within their management responsibilities, including the power to initiate and manage new legal actions, or discontinue current legal actions, that fall within their responsibilities;

• direct the Council to act, as appropriate, to address the legal actions within their management responsibilities; and

• make recommendations to the Minister of Local Government as to whether the Minister should take any further action in relation to the Council, including whether the Minister should appoint another Ministerial body to the Council.

Note that the powers relate to past issues and to future issues. This is clearly intended to counter any adverse outcome from the judgment of Duffy J that is due out soon. It appears the government expects an adverse finding from the High Court and has taken the matter out of the hands of the elected council and will manage the issue itself.

Apparently it also expecting that the 2016/2017 rates will be unlawful following the judgment of Duffy J and the enforcement of those rates will be pursued directly by the Crown.

This edict comes from the top. It was decided by Cabinet on 30 May following the High Court action against the KDC and the NRC. So effectively John Key will be running Kaipara with the assistance of the Department of Internal Affairs.

But that is not all. Not only are Kaipara ratepayers losing their democracy but they are being forced to pay the costs of the Crown Manager who has usurped their democratic rights.

Peter Winder will be paid $900 a day plus expenses and that must be paid by the Council. It becomes a debt owing to the Crown and will be enforced by the Crown if not paid.

There has been no announcement in respect of the Crown Observer and what the terms of reference are, but the remuneration will be on the same basis.

We were forced to pay for the commissioners who were foisted on us, but at least there was no Mayor and councillors to pay over and above.

Under the new regime there will be a Mayor and councillors, an inexperienced chief executive with limited powers, and the two Crown appointments.

That is the cost of being denied democracy under John Key’s regime.

Opinions about this latest move are welcome at contactus@kaiparaconcerns.co.nz

My comments in the post below about recovering losses from other parties have been superseded by the new information. It was always presumed  that the commissioners were receiving their instructions from Wellington.  The pretence is now over.   John Key will direct operations and there will be no recoveries of money from anyone else.  And that is irrespective of what we as ratepayers want, and irrespective of what our elected representatives decide.

We have been well and truly stitched up.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has come out with a stinging attack on the appointment of Peter Winder as the Crown Manager for Kaipara.

In a Press Release he states that the appointment of a government "mate” is unbelievable. He adds that the whole episode of the Mangawhai sewerage scheme has been a farce under National.

In respect of the Crown Manager he says:

This is an undemocratic move – the Crown Manager will be in control and the council will be told to shut up.

It is expected that his comments will be more biting once he views the terms of reference of the Crown Manager.

For those who missed Peter's speech  (Why denial of full democracy?) in Mangawhai recently, the full transcript can be seen here

In the speech he challenges the commitment of the people of Kaipara to protect their own democracy from the onslaught of central government:

This is a tawdry exercise in deception and with respect you ratepayers in Mangawhai have got to make a decision. It’s not a complicated choice. It’s whether you are going to tolerate duplicity, deceit and non-accountability where your interests are concerned.

In the 2014 General Election and in the 2015 by-election there is clear evidence that a great number of voters here are prepared to reward deceit and severe unfair economic treatment.

In short they went out and gave their vote to a political party that caused them to be financially oppressed as though such appalling central government behaviour was of little moment to them. The question tonight is, if some of these people don’t want help to have a serious wrong righted, as their vote suggests, then none of us can help.

It is over to you. If you want to fight back you have to decide to join the fight.

Now that the claim against the KDC has been settled, I examine here the responsibility of other parties for the EcoCare losses and what action should be taken against them.

YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE IT?     07.07.2016
Peter Winder, one of the two Kaipara commissioners, has been appointed to be Crown Manager for Kaipara following the election of a new council in October. His appointment is for three years.

Peter Winder - John Key's Crown Manager for Kaipara

Details of his appointment can be seen here.

The announcement by Louise Upston, Associate Minister of Local Government states:

“Mr Winder will support Council members by taking responsibility for legal actions relating to past issues on their behalf. This will allow Council members to focus on the District’s future.”

This confirms the announcement of 31 May 2016 when she announced the appointment of a Crown Manager and Crown Observer, when she said

“I will appoint a Crown Manager to take responsibility for certain outstanding legal actions, on behalf of the newly-elected Council. Newly-elected Council members will then be able to focus on providing effective governance and on the District’s future, rather than being distracted by past issues.

If you read behind the smoke and mirrors, what it means is that the statutory powers of the elected council will be limited so that it will have no power to make any decisions relating to legal actions concerning past issues.

There is no doubt that the commissioners receive their instructions direct from the government. They have been instructed by the government and carried out the wishes of the government.

Returning democracy to Kaipara has created a head-ache for John Key. His concern was that a newly elected liberal council might start acting in the best interests of the ratepayers and undo much of the work of the commissioners. It might sue Jack McKerchar for negligence (not just make a claim in the Employment Court), sue the former councillors, and others who were responsible for the EcoCare losses.

It might, heaven forbid, even sue the commissioners for breach of their fiduciary duty to ratepayers and their failure to act in the best interests of ratepayers. For instance, they failed to file proceedings promptly against the former CEO, the former councillors and the Auditor-General, and as a result the KDC has lost many millions of dollars that it could have recovered if the commissioners had acted, and acted promptly.

The appointment of a Crown Manager and a Crown Observer has solved the problem. Democracy is to be returned but in name only and the actual decision-making will be shifted directly on to government agents

In fact, John Key has emasculated the new democratic council even before it is voted in and he will directly control the Crown Manager and dictate what decisions are to be made and which actions are to be taken. The commissioners were just a charade. They purported to act on behalf of ratepayers but the reality is that the government was pulling their strings.

All pretence has now gone. The “local” has been taken out of local government in respect of Kaipara because it will be run directly by central government in Wellington.

Someone who is privy to Louise Upston told me recently that I was wrong in my interpretation of the role of the Crown Manger. He and the other selected supporters of the commissioners were told by Louise Upston that the Crown Manager only had an advisory role.

Not true. Read the words of the announcements and you will see that the Crown Manager will have sole responsibility for legal actions relating to past issues. Democratically elected councillors will not only have no say, they are obliged by the provisions of the LGA to comply with the instructions of the Crown Manger. If they don’t, they will be gone by lunch-time.

The terms of reference, when they are published, will no doubt spell out the role in more detail.

Peter Winder’s appointment is ironic. Not so long ago his consultancy firm gave an award of excellence to the KDC (which effectively consists of himself and Honest John) with A-G Lyn Provost being one of the Judges.

Section 258D of the LGA states that "the Minister may appoint a Crown Manager to a local authority if the Minister has received a written request from the local authority to do so".

So Peter Winder (as a commissioner) writes to the Minister and requests the appointment of a Crown Manager, and then gets appointed to the role himself.


Are we now waiting to hear that Honest John will be the Crown Observer?

Apparently that role is advisory. According to Louise Upston the Crown Observer is being appointed “to help ensure newly-elected Council members are well supported. The Crown Observer will not be involved in decision-making and will only offer advice or guidance”.

The problem is that this does not accord with the Observer’s statutory role and powers set out in the LGA. The role of a Crown Observer is to help resolve a specific problem and not act as an advisor. In fact elected councillors are obliged to co-operate with the Crown Observer.

So the Crown Manager deals with the past and the Crown Observer deals with the present and future and the elected councillors simply go into public excluded session to rubber stamp all of the decisions of central government.

And that’s democracy in New Zealand in 2016.

For earlier posts go here.