I thought it might be worth a deeper look into the man who is leading the charge to isolate Waiheke and expose it financially, John Meeuwsen.
As far as I can tell, John is a recent resident of Waiheke. Perhaps that is no obstacle to his being able to instantly assess the situation - after all, in his own words...... "I have many years of experience at senior level in government and private enterprise. I am currently Chair of both the Library Consortium of NZ Ltd and the Personal Advocacy Trust."
I couldn't actually find and mention of his time in government anywhere, despite hours of searching, but I did have some luck with his corporate experience.
The Library Consortium of NZ Ltd
Does not appear to exist any more. The website is defunct, and the only thing I could find after extensively trawling Google was an annual report from 2006 which showed a troubled organisation, financially. There was however no mention of John Meeuwsen
A search for this business at the official companies register shows no results
The Personal Advocacy Trust
This private, fee charging business, according to one google search result, "looks after" the finances of people with intellectual disabilities who have no family. That sounds potentially "very rewarding". Again, there was no reference anywhere I could fins to any association with John.
A search for this business at the companies register shows no results
It's website returns an error page.
A search for John as a director at Companies Office returned the following:
NZ REGISTER OF EXERCISE PROFESSIONALS LIMITED (1276089) - Ceased Director
MEEUWSEN, John Paul
HARDWOOD FORESTS LIMITED (551082) (Struck off)
MEEUWSEN, John Paul
INDUSTRY TRAINING GROUP CHRISTCHURCH LIMITED (1152225) (Struck off) - Director
You can, of course, draw your own conclusions from these results - I know what they say to me though.
The governance role we do know about is his role as an elected member of Auckland Council. He was elected on a promise of delivering a community pool to Waiheke within three years. Had he had experience in local government he would have known that this was an impossible promise to make, not least because the decision making authority rested not in the Local Board but with Auckland Council’s Governing Body. If he is given the benefit of the doubt and did indeed realise this was a promise he couldn’t keep then he is guilty of a far greater breach of public trust, that of deliberately pulling the wool over people’s eyes.
Worse still Meeuwsen has ensured that the robust process already in place by the first Waiheke Local Board to deliver a community pool for Waiheke was ditched in favour of funding a school pool instead. He thought this could be funded by handing back $1.4 million to Auckland Council for projects already budgeted and funded as a sweetener. Of course the money was lost and his lack of experience of how local government works was laid bare for all to see.
Maybe it’s a desire to make good on his original promise to deliver a pool that is driving Meeuwsen to lead Waiheke into the high risk strategy of de-amalgamation. A pool project would require $5-7 million capital cost and $500,000 subsidised on-going operating cost per annum. If he were to pursue the project as a school pool then the Waiheke community would be shut out as they have been from their Waiheke Recreation Centre.
So far Meeuwsen and this Waiheke Local Board have lost Waiheke $12million. That is his actual track record. What we do know he is good at is pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Who is John Meeuwsen and would you want him in charge of your rates? You be the judge.