Focus on geopark criticised

Tourism Waitaki is far too focused on something that may never happen, Waitaki district councillor Jim Hopkins says.

Just weeks after Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher censured the council-controlled regional tourism organisation for its stated governance practices and relationship with the public, Cr Hopkins said yesterday it focused too much on an aspiration for the district to become a Unesco global geopark.

Tourism Waitaki's draft statement of intent tabled at yesterday's Waitaki District Council meeting seemed to make the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark its reason for being.

''They're almost leading us by the nose on this ... project,'' Cr Hopkins said. ''I am not happy with their vision.''

In order for the council to receive the statements of intent for 2019-20 for its four council-controlled organisations by the end of this financial year, it received an unchanged Omarama Airfield Ltd statement; a statement of intent with minor changes for Whitestone Contracting Ltd; a statement of intent for Waitaki District Health Services Ltd that was due to be updated; and Tourism Waitaki's, which had undergone major changes, council finance and corporate development group manager Paul Hope said.

However, Tourism Waitaki had updated its draft statement of intent to reflect a call for change issued by Mr Kircher on June 11.

At the time, Mr Kircher pulled up the company when two of its governance team presented its half-year report and draft statement of intent, saying Tourism Waitaki needed to build a positive relationship with the community; ensure its governance policies gave it effective and efficient direction; and upped its communication with its shareholder, the Waitaki District Council.

Those changes were made.

Yesterday, Cr Hopkins, along with Cr Jan Wheeler, took issue with the former Waitaki Development Board ''putting all their eggs in one vision'', when the council had yet to accept or agree to the proposals in a business case for the geopark.

Council communications specialist Lisa Scott said the business case would be reviewed by Waitaki Whitestone Geopark trustees in July before going to the council for a decision in a public-excluded session.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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