Speaker Sukhi Turner addresses the audience at the Stop the
Stadium meeting at the Dunedin Town Hall last night. Photo
by Peter McIntosh.
The Dunedin Town Hall echoed to the sound of a clapping
and stamping crowd clearly and vociferously opposed to the
proposed stadium last night.
The meeting, organised by Stop the Stadium, heard about the
organisation's latest strategy - a plan to withhold the
average $66 a year the Dunedin City Council has told
ratepayers they will have to pay for the stadium.
Broadcaster Dougal Stevenson was master of ceremonies, and
the speakers were Dunedin businessman Alistair Broad, Dunedin
city councillor Dave Cull, Otago regional councillor Gerry
Eckhoff, Dr Robert Hamlin, of the University of Otago School
of Business, NHNZ chief executive Michael Stedman, and former
Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner.
The meeting attracted up to 1800 people, with both the ground
floor and gallery levels, which seat more than 900 people
each, almost full.
Mrs Turner complained about what she said was the "obscene
haste" with which councillors were spending money that would
drain the pockets of ratepayers for decades to come.
"Dunedin does not need a $200 million temple to rugby to
survive as a city."
The average rate increase was supposed to be $66 a year, and,
to make the council take notice she urged people to withhold
A pamphlet distributed at the meeting said the strategy had
been "confirmed" by the University of Otago faculty of law
dean Prof Mark Henaghan as a "no-risk, low-cost means of
protesting" to the council.
People should deduct $16.50 each quarter, which would attract
a 10% annual penalty of $6.50, "but we think that there is no
cheaper or more effective way of delivering a serious message
to the council".
Asked after the meeting if that amount of money would make a
difference, Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler said it was
not so much the money as the message behind the action.
"It's to show the majority of citizens do not support the
Mr Broad said nobody knew what the stadium would cost, most
households in Dunedin could not afford the rate rise to pay
for it, the stadium would cost ratepayers' money to run, and
there were many better ways to spend the money, including
keeping the Highlanders at Carisbrook, buying the former
chief post office, getting "Third-World" buses off the main
street, putting State Highway 1 underground at the University
of Otago, or reinstating trams.
Cr Eckhoff said the the stadium was designed to provide for
the New Zealand Rugby Union and its international partners,
despite them having no monetary input.
The public consultation on the project was a "sham" and the
councils should have set up public focus groups and
facilitated meetings between the Carisbrook Stadium Trust and
those who opposed the project.
Mr Stedman said there had been a lack of detail and
"non-partisan evidence" on what the stadium would be used
for, and there were questions over whether the Otago Rugby
Football Union would be able to pay to hire the stadium, as
it was "failing dramatically".
Dr Hamlin said the money the trust had raised from seating
packages was not capital, but revenue.
He said building companies were not insurance companies and
could not provide certainties on the cost.
"A guaranteed maximum price contract with a very small hole
in it is about as useful as a bicycle tyre with a very small
hole in it."
Cr Dave Cull said the total project cost had risen by $10
million, the guaranteed maximum price contract offer
contained loopholes that could expose the council to risk of
price increases, a contract had not been finalised with the
University of Otago, nor had an occupation and revenue
agreement been signed between the Otago Rugby Union and the
The meeting ended with a standing ovation for the speakers.