Management of the Dunedin Chinese Garden is to be merged
with the neighbouring Toitu Otago Settlers Museum as part of a
shake-up designed to minimise the garden's cost to ratepayers.
This includes the axing of garden manager Margo Reid's role.
The changes are contained in her report to be considered by
councillors as part of the Dunedin City Council's public
pre-draft budget hearings, beginning tomorrow.
The report details the transition plan, already under way,
where the museum assumed responsibility for day-to-day
management of the garden within months.
That would lead to the end of Ms Reid's role by July 1 - the
start of the 2013-14 financial year - although part of her
work, managing the city's relationship with Shanghai, would
continue as a separate part-time role, funded by the
council's economic development unit.
The changes would shave between $50,000 and $70,000 a year
from the garden's operating costs, reducing the bill covered
by ratepayers - once garden revenue was exhausted - which
this year stood at $585,000.
Councillors will also be asked to consider using any spare
funds to accelerate repayment of the council's $1 million
''gift'' towards garden construction costs, Ms Reid's report
Moving the gift shop to the front entrance, to maximise
returns, and building a function space at the back of the
garden, with room for 100 guests, were also being
investigated by the council's city property staff, as ways of
The function space would allow the garden to host
''commercially viable'' conferences, dinners, weddings and
other events, regular restaurant dinners, and a ''more
substantial'' cafe during the day, she said.
A cost-benefit analysis was still to be completed, but
results would be presented to councillors once it was, she
Councillors would also be asked to consider updating the deed
of agreement between the council and the Dunedin Chinese
Garden Trust to ''reflect the [council's] desire to maximise
When contacted yesterday Ms Reid, who is unsure of her future
role, said the transition plan was already under way, and did
not require further approval, but councillors would be asked
to note the progress.
Ms Reid's report to councillors came after the Otago Daily
Times last year reported a shake-up was likely as visitor
numbers declined and the cost to ratepayers climbed.
Figures showed visitors numbers had dropped from 83,193 in
2008-09 to 28,243 in 2011-12, while operating costs not
covered by revenue meant a total bill for ratepayers of $1.02
million over the period.
The council had agreed to cover operating costs unable to be
met by the garden's revenue, and aimed for 60% to be covered
by ratepayers and 40% by garden revenue streams, including
ticket and shop sales.
Ms Reid's report said that requirement was yet to be met,
with 69% expected to be covered by ratepayers in 2013-14, but
was achievable with planned and suggested changes to the
There were also early indications the reopening of the museum
had helped boost revenue at the garden. Changes needed to be
carefully considered to avoid ''unwittingly'' jeopardising
the authenticity of the traditional scholars garden, which
was a ''cultural asset'' not designed to maximise commercial
opportunities, she added.
• Planned changes to the Dunedin Chinese GardenToitu Otago
Settlers Museum to assume day-to-day operation of garden
• Garden manager's role disestablished by July 1; management
of city's Shanghai sister-city relationship to continue as
separate, part-time role.
• Dunedin City Council to consider accelerating repayment of
$1 million ''gift'' towards garden construction costs.
• Changes to garden's shop and new function space being
investigated to boost revenue.
• Call to update deed of agreement between council and
Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust to ''reflect the [council's]
desire to maximise revenue''.