What then was Waiheke Local Board Chair Paul Walden’s father Ron doing at public forum at this week’s Local Board business meeting talking about the will of deceased local person, Liz Gibson, who sadly committed suicide here on Waiheke several years ago?
The notice appeared in the Gulf News prior to Thursday’s Waiheke Local Board (WLB) meeting. In addition, the Waiheke Presbyterian Church apparently had a letter with similar content pushed through their door, inviting them to attend public forum at the Waiheke Local Board meeting to receive their proceeds from this person’s will. Yet the Board agenda itself does not contain any reference to the forewarned event.
Procedurally, if a person has not prior booked for public forum and been accepted as a speaker, then they are required to record their name, contact details and the topic they wish to speak about at the meeting itself. Now what could Ron Walden have written down that convinced senior Council officers present at the meeting that the matter of Liz Gibson’s will and the beneficiaries of it, lay within the delegated authority of the Waiheke Local Board or, for that matter, had anything whatsoever to do with local government?
Liz Gibson used to work for me, so I have taken some interest in the history of her case. I understand that after Liz committed suicide there were accusations and counter accusations between the Walden family and the Presbyterian Church. Liz left her estate, including her home, for the benefit of the Church. Ron Walden, a one-time member of the Church and father of Waiheke Local Board Chair Paul Walden, was one of the Trustees of the Estate. However, although about seven years have passed and Liz’s house had been sold by the Trustees, the Church had not received a penny from the sale, despite their best legal efforts.
Then along comes this very public notice that Ron Walden, as Trustee of the Estate, has finally decided to do the right thing and hand over what money still remains from the sale of the house to the Church, at a meeting of the Waiheke Local Board. At public forum, after some completely irrelevant rhetoric about the will and the early years and influences on the deceased, an envelope, presumably with a cheque enclosed, was handed over by Ron Walden to a representative of the Church. They then left the meeting.
This was obviously a private matter between the Presbyterian Church and the Trustees of Liz Gibson’s estate. What on earth it has to do with the Waiheke Local Board is a complete mystery! Who made the decision to permit the Board’s business meeting to be used in this manner is not such as mystery …… As Chairman, Paul Walden had a responsibility to NOT let the Local Board be part of what has sadly become a bit of a circus. Instead, he caved in and let his father air his dirty linen in public and compromised the credibility of local government on Waiheke.
Maybe the Walden’s were hoping their pet community papers would pick up the story and paint it as some sort of magnanimous gesture by the Trustees to finally hand over this money to the legal beneficiary, the Church. I can think of no other explanation.
But the explanation that should be forthcoming is why Auckland Council officers permitted Waiheke public forum to be exploited for the Walden family’s personal reasons.
Associated pages: Conduct Unbecoming