As expected the Waiheke Local Board allocated up to $15,000 of ratepayers money to fund their ill-considered jaunt around the Hauraki Gulf with their friends.
Board Chair, Paul Walden, said he’d spent the three months since being elected on this project. He apparently wants to cast his net as widely as possible and has been in touch with iwi from around the Hauraki Gulf, presumably as far away as Waikato and the Coromandel.
Councillor Mike Lee, during public forum, questioned the wisdom of using Waiheke ratepayers money to fund a project that would require up to four, or maybe more boats or perhaps a ferry, be chartered in order to accommodate the long list of invitees. Remember it's Waiheke ratepayers who are paying.
… local board members, local schools (students and educators), Council and Department of conservation officers (and other interested educators and environmental staff and scientists), residents involved with community and environmental work in the area, ratepayer groups, significant land owners, media, iwi, regional decision makers and local Members of Parliament interested in the Waiheke local board area. (WLB Agenda)
No wonder Lee is alarmed. After all, this is his territory. Lee has had a long-standing place on the Hauraki Gulf Forum and is involved with the marine spatial plan, currently being developed at great expense by Auckland Council. He knows this jaunt is unlikely to have any impact on either.
Where it might impact on him is when Waiheke ratepayers get their next steep rate rise in July. They will know about the profligate waste of this Board. Lee is on the Governing Body and they set the rates. He's worried he'll get the blame not the Board.
I wonder for how long an experienced Councillor like Mike Lee will want to associate himself so closely with this Board? I know there’s a strong personal connection. He told public forum last year that his lawyer is none other than Ron Walden, father of Board Chair Paul Walden. This association might come back to haunt him.