WRRA

Whangaparaoa Ratepayers & Residents Association Inc.

President: Tom Parsons
Vice-President: Winsbury White

717 Whangaparaoa Road

Other Committee Members:
Jane Bone
Keith Corbett
Frances Gillett
John Watson
Andy Woodhouse

Welcome to the WRRA Website!

This is just the beginning. It will keep on growing, changing, and improving.

Have you noticed the RDC webpage telling what our votes will mean -
and who will set our rates - for the next several years?

Have a look at:
http://www.rodney.govt.nz/Council/representation_review/representation.htm


Would you like Rodney District Council to be more accountable and democratic, and improve your chance of having a say?

If so, may we draw your attention to the current "Review of Representation Arrangements" in which the RDC explains their renewed determination to avoid having Community Boards. If you agree that these foxes are right to vote themselves another term as guardians of the henhouse, all you have to do is do nothing at all: let them. Otherwise, you had better get your submission in pronto. The absolute deadline is June 26, and if you don't do it now you will forget and it will be too late.

At present our neighbours, Auckland City, Franklin, Manukau, North Shore, & Waitakere all recognise the value of these Boards, hosting a total of 31 such. In contrast all decisions made for our huge and diverse Rodney District are made by the entire Council. This means that we in the Hibiscus Coast will never be able to vote for - or against - the large majority of Councillors who collect and spend our rates and tell us what we must and must not do. We suffer from the classic evil of taxation without representation.

If you agree with us that we need these Boards in Rodney, then we urge you to write a simple letter to RDC., Private Bag 500, OREWA, before 26th June. If you wish to enforce your message with a subsequent verbal submission, then please include that request in your letter.

Only a Community Board can stop such outrages as having Councillors we never voted for vote to give away the Hammerhead or to buy Orewa land at almost triple the assessed value. Their constituents don't care - they don't live here and their rates are not affected. This makes it very easy for Mayor Law to get them to vote the way he wants. Do we in the Eastern Ward want this? I think not.


DO IT NOW


Make a submission and disprove the Council argument that nobody cares and that things are just fine as they are.


2006 Outgoing President's Yearend Message
PRESIDENT'S YEAR-END MESSAGE April 30, 2006

The WRRA has had a year of healing wounds and dealing with loose ends, but we have also managed to move forward with some of our main missions.

We have made submissions on several issues, including traffic management and the need for the Council to take a more active role in providing and guarding the open spaces and natural environment that brought so many of us here in the first place. While we would like to have made more submissions, it is hard to escape the feeling that we should first spend our time in electing more non-deaf ears to key positions and improving the state of democracy in Rodney.

While we are as strongly against rate increases as anyone, that is a too-easy position that accomplishes little. It is more to the point to elect competent and fiscally responsible leaders, or at least leaders who listen. We hope to continue the WRRA's longstanding involvement with Rodney politics, in pursuit of that goal.

Click here to view the entire speech


Mad Butcher? Mad Mayor? Angry Ratepayer!

Once again Mayor Law appears to have used a closed session of council to do a dance on our right to know, crying "commercial sensitivity". I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked.

I would have enjoyed a headline like "Mad Butcher bought by Mad Mayor," but failing that I hoped - in vain - for some entertaining questions from reporters that could have elicited still more humour from the situation.

Isn't it hilarious that in a time of huge rate increases and service cutbacks, Mayor Law has rushed a secret deal through council to buy property we don't need at a price we can't afford? Isn't it funny how the public never finds out where the extra dollars end up when public deals are done for vastly inflated sums!

The Council's man admitted to paying a premium price for this Orewa land at $9.1 million, and claimed the real market value was "in the vicinity of $8 million". Oh, well, what's a million dollars these days? Still if it were a $5.5 million discrepancy, and we paid 2.5 times the assessed value, maybe someone would have raised an eyebrow. Or maybe not.

Why didn't some reporter laugh uproariously when told the actual assessed value of $3.6 million? Has the council been charging rates on $8 million or $3.6 million? One way, all us other ratepayers lost on the rates, and the other way we lost on the price! Oops. Personally, I'll bet we lost both ways. Can't win for losing, sometimes.

Can anyone tell me who is going to pay for this land? Is it all Rodney ratepayers, or only those lucky enough to live in the Eastern Ward? I'm afraid I know. I'll bet it all came out of our local budget, for the good of all Rodney. Doesn't it make you positively glow with public spirit! What a good joke on us that the councillors from other wards got to vote for us to spend our money on this piece of dirt while their constituents get to keep their money or spend it on frivolities like electricity and petrol!

I'm sure we'll all feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when we walk on our very own land as we patronise some of our favourite Orewa businesses. At least I hope we'll feel something good, because that's all we'll ever get for our $9.1 million.

Could anyone read the mayor's explanation without smiling? It won't cost a bit, he said, because he can just sell something else to cover the cost. We should all be pleased, because the Mayor has already used our rates money to buy lots of property that we don't need, so it can be sold when he finds a real bargain like this. Tell us, Mr Mayor, just which properties are those that you bought that we now don't need? Why were they bought in the first place? Did we pay triple the assessed value for them also? And why haven't they been sold already, to help keep rates down?

But I guess we won't find out. After all, we are only the voters and ratepayers, and He is The Mayor, and all big-money decisions are commercial, so they are all commercially sensitive, so they are all to be decided in closed sessions after zero public discussion, right?

The joke is on us, folks, let's give the man a hand! A hand full of money, that is. You have no choice, you know.


P.S. Mr Mayor, if you want to buy my house for 2.5 times the rated value, don't hesitate to call. I'm sure that it will be a great addition to the inventory of property that the ratepayers don't need, and I'll be pleased to take it off your hands for the Valuation NZ assessed value when you get tired of owning it and want to buy something else they don't need.



Be sure to scan all the way to the bottom of the page for links and new content.

[Last updated on Saturday, June 10.

Coming Soon: Mayor Law's response to the Code of Conduct judgement he didn't like! The Code has been revised, and all outstanding complaints made moot, including those below, but the controversy goes on.]

Will we be paid?

At the last update we were still waiting to hear whether the RDC would recompense us in full for the legal expenses resulting from their ill-advised intervention into WRRA affairs.

Now we know.

They have denied owing any additional money and said that "Any further claim will be vigorously defended. "

The New Zealand Law Commission has condemned what the RDC did, in their publication "Subsidising Litigation (2001)", which they open by explaining the problem:

"In late medieval England unruly nobles whom judges were reluctant to defy frequently employed as a method of oppressing the vulnerable the systematic promotion of lawsuits, "suits fomented and sustained by unscrupulous men of power" as Lord Mustill has described them."

You can look this up for yourself at http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/UploadFiles/Publications/Publication_79_174_R72.pdf


At the AGM, the membership directed us (by an overwhelming margin) to pursue the remaining $3587.70 in the Disputes Tribunal, and a Claim has been filed. We expect a hearing in September.



The WRRA is dedicated to an active approach to observing its Rules, where our purpose is stated thus:

2 The objects of the Association are:

(a) To promote the interests of the ratepayers, residents and visitors in the Whangaparaoa area of the Hibiscus Coast.

(b) To provide facilities for recreation, entertainment, and social and cultural activities in the said area.

(c) To promote or assist financially or otherwise in the provision of amenities, facilities and services for the use or benefit within the said area of the public generally.

This website is part of our efforts to carry out our mission.

It is here so that we can communicate with the community, and the community can communicate with us.

We would also like to help other community groups who can benefit from online communication by providing space for them here.

To get in touch, email

Tom Parsons, President, WRRA



NEWS FLASH - See it Here!

You've heard about the Code of Conduct complaint against Cr Watson.

You've heard that an independent outside investigator was commissioned by the RDC to investigate and rule on the complaint.

You've heard both sides hurl charges.


But you never got to see what they were talking about UNTIL NOW.

The report on the investigation of the Code of Conduct complaint against Cr Watson can now be seen by the public. Click here.

Democracy in Rodney - is the Mayor part of the problem?

Councillor Watson's Complaint (introduction by WRRA President Tom Parsons)

In my years of involvement in Peninsula affairs (inextricable from Rodney politics), I have often felt that democracy in Rodney was seriously flawed. This was true before the dissolution of the "dysfunctional" council years ago, and remains my overwhelming impression to this day.

In my strong opinion, democracy here has been impaired by the secrecy that often conceals Council actions and plans until it is too late for concerned non-insiders to alter them , or to have any meaningful say at all. With perhaps a few favoured exceptions, the involvement of the community seems limited to voting for Councillors and a Mayor every three years, and our input seems to be regarded as just a nuisance at other times.

I have personally been ejected from a meeting of the Council by this Mayor because he decided that it should be a closed meeting. However, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 lists a number of requirements that must be satisfied for a meeting to be closed, and he had met none of these requirements. One of the legal requirements is that the Council vote to close a particular portion of a meeting because Councillors are convinced that the subject matter is legally included in those listed in the Act as appropriate to justify closure.

When throwing me out, to justify ignoring the requirement for a vote to close a specific agenda item, the Mayor said in essence 'They would support me if I asked them to'.

I didn't think that was good enough. Apparently someone at the RDC has read the Act since then, and a better job is now being done with the formalities of closing meetings.

But the underlying attitude seems to remain.

Did you know anything about the new Gulf Harbour development before the news of its approval broke?

Do you have a clue about the number of cars it will add to the traffic on Whangaparaoa Road? Did you have time to form an opinion and be heard, or did you first hear of it in a headline, when it was already a done deal?

Do you know that the fate of the Gulf Harbour hammerhead has been under discussion?

Do you know that this land is public property - yours and mine?

You only know if you can read deeply into cryptic agenda titles such as:

(Confidential Item) Heads of Agreement - Gulf Harbour
and
(Confidential Item) Proposed Lease - Gulf Harbour

Check the Council's website and see what you can learn from the Agenda:

http://www.rodney.govt.nz/council/2005minutes/August/ORDA2508.pdf

Since these agenda items deal with commercial negotiations, they can legally be held in private, which is only sensible if the RDC needs to prepare negotiation strategies and wants the other side not to know their plans.

But is it sensible for the public not to even know what items are being bargained for? What might we lose, what might we gain?

Is such secrecy proper? Should it even be legal?

Not in my view.

Does the Mayor want to help you learn more?

Apparently not, because he seems to have become angry with the Coaster and is refusing to communicate with our own local newspaper!

I leave it to you to judge why the Mayor might not want to talk to the Coaster any more, and whether this is a help to democracy or another step in the direction of secret government.


This is the subject of a complaint filed against the Mayor by one of our HBC Councillors, John Watson, which appears below.

***************************************

Code of Conduct Complaint

A copy of a document dated 27 May 2005 from the Mayor of the Rodney District Council to the owner of the TimesMedia Group (see attachment 1) provides clear evidence that the Mayor has breached the Council's code of conduct as it applies to " Part Three: Relationships and Behaviours. " This is the part of the code that sets out the Council's agreed standards of behaviour.

(1) On page 14 entitled Contact with the Media the code states that: " The media plays an important part in local democracy. In order to fulfil this role the media needs access to accurate, timely information about the affairs of the Council. "

In his communication to TimesMedia the Mayor states in lines one and two that " I want to personally advise you and Pam Tipa that I will be taking no further interviews with the Editor of the Coaster or reporters writing stories for the Coaster. "

This statement is reiterated later in this communication in line fifteen where the Mayor states: " There is very little that I can do except refuse to give personal interviews and tips on stories. "

In refusing to give interviews to the editor of The Coaster or to any reporters from the same paper the Mayor has in effect breached the code by denying the media " access to accurate, timely information about the affairs of the Council " as per the code of conduct.

(2) Further to this, on page 15, also under Contact with the Media, the code of conduct states that: " The following rules apply for media contact on behalf of the Council: The Mayor is the first point of contact for the official view on any issue. "

In " refusing to give personal interviews with the Editor of the Coaster or reporters writing stories for the Coaster " the Mayor has refused to fulfil his role as providing " the first point of contact for the official view on any issue " as per the code of conduct.

(3)Further to this, the code of conduct states that the rules applying for media contact as they relate to the Mayor are " on behalf of the Council. " ( page 15 ) This would strongly imply that in acting on behalf of the Council the Mayor has no right to refuse to act as a first point of contact without first obtaining permission of Council. No such permission has ever been sought.

Page 12 of the code states unequivocally that " The Mayor must follow the same rules as the other elected members about making public statements and committing the Council to a particular course of action, unless acting in accordance with the rules for media contact on behalf of the Council under a delegation of authority from the Council. " This is a further breach of the code of conduct.

(4) Finally, the tone and content of this communication is such that the Mayor could be seen to be intimidating and seeking to unduly influence the local media. This is a breach of page 14 of the code, namely Relations with the Community which states that " Members should act in a manner that encourages and values community involvement in local democracy. " In this instance the Mayor could be seen to be attempting to control the information going to the local community thereby limiting their "involvement in local democracy."

(5) Indeed his statements and conduct in this instance also run contrary to the principles of openness, accountability and leadership as outlined on page 10 of the code of conduct. They are not becoming the position of Mayor.

John Watson ( Rodney District Councillor ) 25th August 2005


WRRA views, for reading and discussion:

Press Release of June 23, 2005
WRRA vs. Dark Forces
Whangaparaoa Environmental Concerns - Keith Corbett

WRRA business: meetings, agendas, reports:


[updated on Saturday, December 3, 2005]

Members were recently sent a newsletter together with the audited financial statement (in satisfaction of our rules and a resolution adopted at the AGM).
Click here to see the newsletter , which also announced a meeting to share concerns about the secret dealings surrounding the Hammerhead at Gulf Harbour.
The meeting on the Hammerhead was a great success, with more than 50 people in attendance and several of our Eastern Ward Councillors presenting their views (Wayne Walker, John Watson, Colin McGillivray), as well as past Councillor Brian Smith.

Peninsula Players was using the Hall for their Christmas Production that evening, so we took advantage of the fine weather to hold what may have been the first-ever public meeting in the Town Square.

We Meet in the Town Square






Community Pages

(contact us to get your organisation's page set up here too):

Click to view the Whangaparaoa Horticultural Society Newsletters (2005):
October Part One
October Part Two

December Newsletter