Archive | Kaipara

Kaipara election dates set

Kaipara’s election to replace mayor Greg Gent will take place from Friday 26 January to midday on Saturday 17 February, which means the postal vote will close on the first day the election can be held.

Mr Gent, elected last October when an elected district council resumed control after 4 years of management by Government-appointed commissioners, announced on Monday he’d resign in November.

The council said today Mr Gent’s resignation would take effect on 15 November, 5 days before summer election rules come into play.

“Under the Local Electoral Act, where a vacancy occurs before 20 November 2017 the by-election cannot occur before Saturday 17 February 2018. Under this scenario, nominations would open Friday 24 November and close at midday Friday 22 December. The voting period would be from Friday 26 January through to midday on Saturday 17 February, conducted by postal vote.

“The public notice of the result would be Wednesday 21 February  and the newly elected mayor could take office at that time. The estimated cost for the by-election is $38,000. The bulk of this cost is for the production & distribution of the mailer & voting document.

“If the newly elected mayor was an existing councillor then they would have to resign the councillor role and this would trigger an additional vacancy & by-election. The cost of this is likely to be around $20,000.”

Related story today: Kaipara mayor resigns after a year

Attribution: Council release.

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Kaipara mayor resigns after a year

Kaipara mayor Greg Gent.

Kaipara mayor Greg Gent announced on Monday he intended to resign after the council meeting on Tuesday 14 November – 13 months after an elected council took over from Government-appointed commissioners.

He said he’d decided to resign due to unspecified personal reasons. His resignation will mean a by-election is required, but it can’t be held until February.

The Kaipara District Council said deputy mayor Peter Wethey would assume all the responsibilities of the mayor from Mr Gent’s departure until the by-election.

Mr Gent, a Ruawai dairy farmer with substantial business & corporate governance interests, was a director of New Zealand’s largest co-operative business, Fonterra from 2001-11 and chaired Northland Dairy Ltd & Kiwi Co-op Dairies Ltd before Fonterra was formed. He still chairs Dairy Holdings Ltd, has chaired the Southern Cross Health Trust since 2014, is a director of NZ Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd and was a member of the Northland District Health Board from 2010-15. He was independent chair of Pengxin NZ Farm Management Ltd from 2013-October 2016, and resigned as a director of FMG Insurance Ltd on 17 August. He was made an officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2012.

Mr Gent chaired the 3-member review team that led to councillors resigning in 2012, when the commissioners took over, and said in a pre-election statement: “That gave me a unique insight into council, particularly around the systemic failure of governance. I do not want us to slip back into the hole that we have spent the last 4 years climbing out of.”

He also said at that time: “The role of mayor will require me to reduce my current portfolio, which I am prepared to do.”

He gave up one board seat at election time and one since.

Mr Gent was not surprisingly criticised by the Mangawhai Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association & its chair, Bruce Rogan, for his role in the appointment of the commissioners, who opposed every attempt by the association for redress over the imposition of rates to pay for the Mangawhai Ecocare sewerage system after its cost blowout was exposed. The district council secretly borrowed $58 million for its capital cost and Parliament passed a Validation Act as the association was heading to court for a judicial review.

Mr Rogan stood unsuccessfully against Mr Gent for the mayoralty last year.

Attribution: Council release.

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Ratepayers get small court victory in scrap over Mangawhai sewer scheme levies

High Court judge Ailsa Duffy has brought to an end an episode in the scrap over the secretively funded & heavily over cost Mangawhai Ecocare sewerage scheme.

The Mangawhai Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association & its chair, Bruce Rogan, fought the imposition of rates to pay for the sewerage system after its cost blowout was exposed – the district council secretly borrowed $58 million for its capital cost – resulting in a Validation Act being passed as the association was heading to court for a judicial review.

In 2014, Justice Paul Heath found the Validation Act passed to make those rates lawful did just that – made them lawful.

Some ratepayers, led by Mr Rogan, refused to pay Kaipara District Council rates, and refused to pay Northland Regional Council rates when they discovered the regional council had no authority to hire the district council to collect them.

Justice Duffy found in an interim judgment that these regional council rates were unlawful. In a second judgment on that case yesterday, she quashed the regional council’s rates for the rating years 2011-12 to 2015-16 and also set aside the penalties imposed for non-payment.

However, she said the ratepayers’ association & Mr Rogan hadn’t sought reimbursement in their claim and she made no order directing the regional council to refund the relevant rates & penalties.

Attribution: Judgment.

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Winder to stay on at Kaipara council as Crown manager

Peter Winder.

Peter Winder.

One of the 3 commissioners who’ve been in charge of the Kaipara District Council since 2012, Peter Winder, will stay on as Crown manager after the local body elections on 8 October.

The Government appointed 4 commissioners to replace the elected council in August 2012 – John Robertson (chair), Richard Booth, Colin Dale & Peter Winder. Mr Dale, former chief executive of the Manukau City Council, left his Kaipara role in February 2014 to become acting chief executive of the Far North District Council.

The primary cause of the decision to appoint commissioners was the blowout in cost of the new Mangawhai sewage scheme.

Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston said yesterday Mr Winder would bring with him his extensive experience & in-depth knowledge: “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.”

The Crown manager role is for 3 years.

Mr Winder was chief executive of the Auckland Regional Council for the 5 years until it became part of the new Auckland Council, and set up a private firm, McGredy Winder & Co Ltd, in 2010 to work on advice & strategies for public organisations.

He was previously the regional council’s transport director for a year, chief executive of Local Government NZ for 2 years and spent 5 years at Tourism NZ as industry strategy general manager. He’s chaired the Manukau Institute of Technology since December 2013.

Earlier stories:
6 June 2016: Kaipara to get elected council in October
26 April 2015: Kaipara commissioners reappointed until 2016
30 August 2012: 
Minister names 4 commissioners to run Kaipara council

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Kaipara to get elected council in October

The Kaipara District will return to having a fully elected council at this year’s local body elections, supported by a Crown manager & a Crown observer. The previous elected council resigned in 2012 and was replaced by commissioners.

Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston said last week: “The Kaipara commissioners have made significant progress in getting the council into a stable financial position. It is time the council returns to a fully elected council. I have called an election of the council to coincide with the local body elections in October.”

Ms Upston said she would also appoint a Crown manager and a Crown observer to support the newly elected council as it settles in: “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.

“It is important that newly elected council members have the right support to be successful in their demanding & complex role. With this in mind, I will also appoint a Crown observer 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.

“It is crucial that the Kaipara District is able to look to the future. The return to a fully elected council, together with a Crown Manager and Crown Observer supporting the Council, will provide the District with a fresh start.”

Crown Manager and Crown Observer appointees will be announced in the coming months.

Earlier stories:
27 April 2016: Kaipara commissioners seek input on annual plan
26 April 2015: Kaipara commissioners reappointed until 2016
30 August 2012: Minister names 4 commissioners to run Kaipara council

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Kaipara commissioners seek input on annual plan

Kaipara District Council, still run by commissioners, is seeking feedback on its annual plan, which includes a $10.1 million reduction in debt.

Commissioner John Robertson, who chairs the council, said yesterday there were no significant changes from the long-term plan but the commissioners wanted feedback because the council had a number of projects actively involving members of the community.

“One project which is of great interest in Dargaville is the library redesign. The concept plans for this will be on display for comment. In Mangawhai, the early work on the town plan is also progressing, as are the ‘placemaking’ concepts for Kaiwaka & Dargaville.”

Mr Robertson said the round-table consultation sessions would also provide opportunities to discuss roading, water & wastewater – the last of these, in the form of the blowout in debt on the former council’s Mangawhai Ecocare scheme, resulted in the replacement of councillors & mayor by commissioners in 2012.

The commissioners will conduct “Let’s Connect” sessions from 2-10 May in Maungaturoto, Dargaville, Mangawhai, Kaiwaka & Paparoa.

The Government reappointed the commissioners in April last year until the local body elections this October.

Link:
Kaipara District Council

Earlier story:
26 April 2015: Kaipara commissioners reappointed until 2016

Attribution: Council release.

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Kaipara commissioners reappointed until 2016

Kaipara District Council’s 3 Government-appointed commissioners have been reappointed until October 2016. Meanwhile court action continues between the council and the Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association, which argued there was nothing to stop elections being held this year.

The Government appointed 4 commissioners to replace the elected council in August 2012 – John Robertson (chairman), Richard Booth, Colin Dale & Peter Winder. Mr Dale, former chief executive of the Manukau City Council, left his Kaipara role in February last year to become acting chief executive of the Far North District Council.

A return to an elected council was expected this year, but Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston announced on Friday the first election would be at the same time as all other local body elections around the country, in 2016.

She said: “The commissioners have made significant progress in addressing the council’s issues and improving its performance. When I visited the Kaipara district in February, it was clear to me there is widespread support for the commissioners in the district, and they have made substantial progress in rebuilding the relationship between the council & the communities of Kaipara.

“When an election is held, it is important that stable governance is achieved in Kaipara and the mistakes of the past do not happen again. I don’t consider that current circumstances lend themselves to achieving this if an election is held in October 2015. The reappointment of the commissioners until October 2016 gives the district the best chance of getting the stable governance it deserves.”

Ms Upston didn’t say what circumstances were militating against stability, but did say developing an exit plan to facilitate a successful transition to elected governance in 2016 would be a key part of the commissioners’ remaining work.

The primary cause of the decision to appoint commissioners – the blowout in cost of the new Mangawhai sewage scheme – resulted in a High Court application by the Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association for judicial review of the rating scheme proposed to pay for the blowout. That case is now headed to the Court of Appeal for hearing on 25 August.

Meanwhile, the council is seeking court orders to collect outstanding rates from a number of Mangawhai ratepayers. Association president Bruce Rogan said in a weekend newsletter the first of these cases was scheduled for hearing in the Whangarei District Court on 30 June.

Earlier stories:
28 July 2014: Judge tells Mangawhai ratepayers to pay up, also awards them indemnity costs in more elaborate decision
30 May 2014: Commissioner says Mangawhai rates liability now “crystal clear”
28 May 2014: Judge to issue hamstrung Mangawhai ratepayer group indemnity costs, accepts new validation law, wants more debt options considered
6 October 2013: Commissioners reject “unfair” Mangawhai ratepayer proposal, seek sewage options, adopt annual plan
25 September 2013: Kaipara commissioners seek help to fight ratepayers over illegal rate collection
20 September 2013: Kaipara commissioners try to sweet-talk ratepayer group as they appeal judicial review decision
30 August 2012: Minister names 4 commissioners to run Kaipara council

Attribution: Ministerial release, association newsletter.

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Kaipara council to sue ex-ceo & Audit NZ, looking at ex-mayors, councillors & consultants

Kaipara District Council’s commissioners resolved yesterday to take legal action against Government watchdog Audit NZ and against the council’s former chief executive, Jack McKerchar, over the Mangawhai community wastewater scheme.

Mr McKerchar resigned in 2011 with a financial settlement agreed by councillors, a year before the Government replaced them with the commissioners, headed by John Robertson.

The Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association has appealed against the High Court decision of Justice Paul Heath in its claim against the council over the scheme. That case reached the courtroom in February, 2 months after Parliament had passed a local bill validating illegal action, which greatly reduced the association’s prospects of winning.

Mr Robertson said after a council meeting yesterday the council had decided not to pursue the former mayor & councillors because of the limited chances of success, but had asked the Auditor-general, Lyn Provost (appointed since the Mangawhai events began to unfold), to reconsider her decision not to hold any elected members to account.

The commissioners accepted a staff recommendation that there were sufficient grounds to mount a legal case against Audit NZ for negligence in the 3 years from 2006-09.

Mr Robertson said in a release: “In December 2013, the current Auditor-General, Lyn Provost, admitted that work undertaken for Kaipara prior to 2010 did not meet professional audit standards or the standards she herself expected. At community meetings, she apologised unreservedly to the people of Kaipara.”

Mr Robertson said the council had accepted her apology, but that was not enough: “The fact is, Kaipara District Council engaged Audit NZ to carry out a professional service for which Audit NZ was paid. The service the council received was extremely poor and there have been far-reaching consequences for this district.

“As a result of Audit NZ’s negligence, huge costs have been imposed on the Kaipara District Council & its ratepayers.

“The simple fact is that Audit NZ did not identify the Mangawhai community wastewater scheme project as a key audit risk, or even an area of focus. It should have done so, and that was made very clear in the report released by the current auditor-general last year.”

Mr Robertson said the council would initiate legal proceedings by the end of October.

The former chief executive, Mr McKerchar, left the council in October 2011 after reaching a financial settlement with the council. Mr Robertson said: “Since then, there have been repeated calls from Kaipara ratepayers to hold Mr McKerchar accountable for his role in the botched Mangawhai scheme.”

The commissioners noted yesterday that the statute of limitations meant the council could only try to hold Mr McKerchar to account for his actions during the last 6 years. Legal advice also suggested the settlement agreement Mr McKerchar signed with the former council mighty impact on the success of any legal action.

“Notwithstanding those issues, there is an important principle here. Some members of the community have noted that the council might not get much back from Mr McKerchar in monetary terms, but they still believe it is important that he is held to account, and we agree.

“Elected members & the Kaipara community should have been able to rely on the chief executive’s advice, but in a number of areas it was very poor.”

Mr Robertson said the report released by the auditor-general in December last year clearly identified a number of failings during the time Mr McKerchar led the council.

“In the timeframe we can focus on, the council failed to assess & set rates legally, it failed to ensure a number of statutory requirements were met and it failed to manage its finances prudently. Mr McKerchar should be held to account for his role in those failings.”

Mr Robertson said the council’s legal advisors would be instructed to begin action immediately.

The commissioners also accepted strong legal advice that there was no legal basis upon which the council could bring damages claims on behalf of the Kaipara community against former councillors. On that basis, Mr Robertson said the council would not be taking legal action against the former mayors & elected members involved with the Mangawhai scheme.

Mr Robertson said he accepted some people would be bitterly disappointed, as there had also been strong calls for those people to be held to account: “I accept their disappointment, but we have taken considerable legal advice and have weighed that advice up against the likelihood of the council being successful in any legal action. It seems highly unlikely that we would.

“We are not prepared to launch expensive legal proceedings without a reasonable chance of success.”

However, he said the commissioners would formally invite the auditor-general to reconsider her decision not to hold any elected members to account, particularly given the recent High Court decision which confirmed that the council failed to meet its statutory requirements in approving the Mangawhai scheme.

“There is now a formal declaration from the High Court confirming a number of previous council failings which didn’t exist when the auditor-general made her previous decision. The auditor-general has the best chance to initiate recovery action from former Kaipara elected members, and we will be asking her to review her earlier decision. Whether or not she does so is entirely up to her.”

The council will decide next month on whether or not it will take legal action against consultancies involved in the project, including the Beca consortium.

$58 million of the Kaipara District Council’s $80 million of projected 2015 debt is attributable to the Mangawhai EcoCare wastewater scheme & debt loaded against installing it.

Earlier stories:
28 July 2014: Judge tells Mangawhai ratepayers to pay up, also awards them indemnity costs in more elaborate decision
23 June 2014, 2-part story: Kaipara commissioners get debt report, obliged to adopt annual plan, and Mangawhai group says it will appeal case
2 questions for Kaipara: How to cut debt, and how to allocate it
30 May 2014: Commissioner says Mangawhai rates liability now “crystal clear”
28 May 2014: Judge to issue hamstrung Mangawhai ratepayer group indemnity costs, accepts new validation law, wants more debt options considered
30 April 2014: Mangawhai wastewater court decision scheduled for May
4 December 2013: Auditor-general releases Mangawhai report – and audience as disbelieving as ever
18 November 2013: Minister cites Kaipara debacle in move to new council finance rules
6 October 2013: Commissioners reject “unfair” Mangawhai ratepayer proposal, seek sewage options, adopt annual plan
25 September 2013: Kaipara commissioners seek help to fight ratepayers over illegal rate collection
20 September 2013: Kaipara commissioners try to sweet-talk ratepayer group as they appeal judicial review decision
30 August 2013: Kaipara commissioners fail to stop court challenge to Mangawhai debacle costs
19 August 2013: Judge to make quick decision on attempt to strike out Mangawhai ratepayers’ quest for judicial review
30 August 2012: Minister names 4 commissioners to run Kaipara council

Attribution: Council releases.

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Propbd on Q T26Aug14 – Kaipara council sues ex-ceo & Audit NZ

2.30pm:
Kaipara commissioners go to court against ex-ceo & Audit NZ

Kaipara District Council’s commissioners resolved today to take legal action against Government watchdog Audit NZ and against the council’s former chief executive, Jack McKerchar, over the Mangawhai community wastewater scheme.

Mr McKerchar resigned in 2011 with a financial settlement agreed by councillors, who hadn’t at that stage been replaced.

The Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association has appealed against the High Court decision of Justice Paul Heath in its claim against the council over the scheme. That case reached the courtroom only after Parliament had passed a local bill validating illegal action, which greatly reduced the association’s prospects of winning.

Chairman of the commissioners, John Robertson, said the council had decided not to pursue the former mayor & councillors because of the limited chances of success, but had asked the Auditor-general, Lyn Provost (appointed since the Mangawhai events began to unfold), to reconsider her decision not to hold any elected members to account.

Last story, 28 July 2014: Judge tells Mangawhai ratepayers to pay up, also awards them indemnity costs in more elaborate decision

Attribution: Council releases.

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Propbd on Q F18July14 – Ruru leaves Kaipara, M&C restructure done

Kaipara council chief executive heading south
Millennium & Copthorne restructure done, First Sponsor shares distributed

3.25pm:
Kaipara council chief executive heading south

Kaipara District Council chief executive Steve Ruru has resigned, effective 17 October. He’s been appointed chief executive at the Southland District Council.
More details: On the move, July 2014 – Ruru resigns from Kaipara council

Millennium & Copthorne restructure done, First Sponsor shares distributed

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels NZ Ltd’s capital reduction scheme of arrangement became effective at 6pm last night.

Under the scheme, 244 million ordinary shares & 121.9 million preference shares were cancelled, reducing the numbers on issue to 105,578,290 ordinaries & 52,739,543 preference shares.

For every 1000 shares – ordinary shares or preference – shareholders had 698 cancelled and received 327 shares in First Sponsor Group Ltd, a related company which is developing property in China and is scheduled to list on the Singapore Exchange next Tuesday, 22 July. Its initial public offering closed yesterday.

Attribution: Council & company releases.

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