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Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins called time at 2.22pm yesterday, after about two hours of mostly fruitless, disorganised interaction in a Dunedin City Council Zoom meeting.
Councillors will try again next week to produce a coherent letter for Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta, providing her with feedback about her reform programme ahead of an October 1 deadline.
Concern about the council’s ability to produce a letter that would be internally consistent, amid a slew of amendments that appeared to be on the way, was the reason cited by Mr Hawkins for the abrupt end to the meeting.
The reform process itself has been fraught for the Government, which is under pressure to produce quality information and to allow councils to have more time to consult with communities before they opt in or out of the programme.
Much of the council’s meeting time was taken up with rambling questions from councillors, confusion and general peevishness.
Infrastructure services committee chairman Cr Jim O’Malley was miffed about lack of time to consider the material and his own lack of input into the draft letter to the minister.
Referring to a co-governance role envisaged for iwi, Cr Lee Vandervis could not see what piped water systems had to do with traditional Maori knowledge.
He was also battling to see how the reforms could generate promised efficiency gains at the same time as thousands of jobs across New Zealand.
Cr O’Malley, a supporter of iwi involvement, was nonetheless left wondering about the nature of the proposed role for iwi.
He did establish that the Water Industry Commission for Scotland and consultancy Morrison Low were a long way apart on estimated cost savings that might result for Dunedin households from reform.
A key element of reform is the planned creation of four regional water entities taking over work that councils have done, and their water assets.
Several councillors indicated they wanted alternative models to be put in front of the minister.