Bailout comment prompts walk out

Wanaka Community Hub Trust chairwoman Yeverley McCarthy speaks at the public forum of the Wanaka...
Wanaka Community Hub Trust chairwoman Yeverley McCarthy speaks at the public forum of the Wanaka Community Board meeting shortly before she, and other trustees walked out in protest following comments made by Queenstown Lakes district councillor Niamh Shaw about financial decisions made by the trust. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
Tempers flared during a Wanaka Community Board meeting yesterday, leading to a temporary halt in proceedings and community trust members walking out in protest.

The board had been meeting to decide whether to approve the conversion of a $500,000 council loan into a capital grant to the Wanaka Community Hub Trust, and whether the money should come from the town’s assets reserve fund or a small general rates rise.

Queenstown Lakes district councillor Niamh Shaw suggested a last-minute amendment which extended the interest-free loan to the hub by up to 12 months and converted it to a capital grant subject to defining community oversight, governance and equity at the sole discretion of the council.

Cr Shaw said although the community hub was presented as a community facility, the community had no equity in the building and almost no input or direction into its management.

"Fundamentally the community hub trust is a charitable organisation with excellent intentions that has made some decisions and it has ended up in financial difficulty and is asking the community to bail it out."

Wanaka Community Hub Trust chairwoman Yeverley McCarthy yelled "that is untrue, and over the top", then walked out of the meeting together with several of the trustees.

Community board member Jude Battson responded that she thought the amendment was inappropriate and she was "concerned about what is going on in the background to lead to it".

After the meeting, Mrs McCarthy said she felt insulted and "side-swiped" by the comments.

"For the last year we have met regularly with council representatives and provided them with a 10-year review document, which they have reviewed and have come back stating that we have met every standard that they have asked of us.

"Even [council community services general manager] Thunes Cloete proposed the loan become a grant at the meeting today," Mrs McCarthy said.

She said it was the council which recognised the need for a community hub in Wanaka as long ago as 2004, but so far it had only granted $20,000.

The amendment passed with the support of community board chairman Barry Bruce.

Cr Shaw said that while the resolution was not the preferred option for the trust, the offer to extend the interest-free loan in order to get a better outcome for the community could not be considered as a negative.



I think the Hub forgot that "Wanaka" just won a big case in the Courts against "Queenstown" so do you not think the Council are now looking to try and score some points back? Come and live in Lake Hawea, we are thousands of points behind. We do not even have good footpaths or gutters, a compliant water scheme, no sewage treatment available for all the houses the Council have approved. This is the very reason Lake Hawea decided not to have the QLDC involved when we build our Community Centre.



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