New Year honours


Two dames and four knights have been created in the New Year honours.

Trelise Cooper has been honoured for services to fashion.

Alison Paterson has been honoured for services to business which includes significant service to agriculture.

She is chair of Crown Irrigation Investment and Farm IQ,  Stevenson Agriculture and New Zealand Formulary, which is developing markets for furnishing fabric made from wool and rice. She was a director of 
She is a director of Landcorp Farming, and PGG Wrightson.

The new knights are:

Dr Noble Curtis, of Rotorua for services to Māori education;  Archbishop David Moxon, of Rome for services to the Anglican Church, Bob Parker, for services to local body affairs and the community and Peter Vela, ONZM, for services to the thoroughbred industry.

The first link takes you to the full list at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website.

Southern and rural people honoured include:


Former Southland mayor Frano Cardno who is profiled in the ODT.


John Coles, former Waimate mayor.

Tom Lambie,  a pioneering organic farmer, former president of Federated Farmers, representedboard member of Trade Liberalisation Network,  New Zealand on the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, former chair of the Landcare Trust, and is Chancellor of Lincoln University and an ECan commissioner.


Former Waitaki mayor Alex Familton.


Former Oamaru police officer and current scout leader Derek Beveridge.

Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay.







By-election needed already


The local body election process is just starting and we already need a by-election in the Waitaki District.

Nominations for October’s local elections closed yesterday, with nobody willing to put themselves forward for the Ahuriri ward seat on the Waitaki District Council. Council electoral officer David Blair said that would mean a by-election would be required.

”When the [October] election is over we will have to have a by-election, which will include the Ahuriri Community Board, because we only got three [nominations] and we need five, and we will also include the Oamaru Licensing Trust ward 1, because we need three and we only got two.”

However, a by-election would not be held until the end of January or early February, he said. . .

When Alex Familton won both the mayoralty and a council seat six years ago the cost of the subsequent by-election in the Waihemo ward was given as between $5400 and $16,000, depending on whether a vote was needed.

It’s unlikely it will cost any less now.

That’s not a huge amount in terms of the council’s overall budget but it’s a cost that could have been avoided.

Publicity a few days ago before nominations closed could have highlighted the urgent need to find someone.

The retiring councillor could have found a successor, or at least ensured that the people in the ward knew they were in danger of being unrepresented.

The people in the ward, knowing their councillor wasn’t standing again, could have found someone to represent them.

And at least one of the seven of mayoral aspirants could have used the opportunity to demonstrate leadership by ensuring their was a full complement of candidates for every vacancy.

It is possible that had any or all of these been done no-one would have been willing to stand which raises a question – what happens if there’s no nominations for the by-election?

Either one or t’other not both


Dunedin City Councillor Fliss Butcher plans to contest the Waitaki District mayoralty and stand as a councillor in the Corriedale ward.

Success in both would trigger a by-election in the ward.

This is what happened when the sitting mayor, Alex Familton who isn’t standing again, first became the mayor. He also stood, and was elected, as a councillor in the Waihemo ward so his success as mayor necessitated an immediate by-election at a cost of some tens of thousands of dollars.

Butcher shouldn’t risk putting ratepayers to that expense again.

She should stand for one position or t’other, not both.

Quote of the day


Mr Familton said there were two possible reactions – accepting the increase as a one-off and the council “going  happily about its business”, or reducing the increase.   

 Personally, he was inclined towards the latter, he said. While the council had performed well in the past four years, it needed to be innovative.   

 “The total increase of 7.4% is a concern. It is a challenge  to those on fixed incomes and a drag on business,” he said.   

 “Let this be a warning – we need to do something about it,”  he said.   Waitaki District mayor Alex Familton responding to a projected rates increase of 7.4% .

Let’s get together


Something good has come out of a united from the unification of Auckland already – South Island mayors are getting together to take a co-operative approach to ensure the Mainland’s voice is heard.

There’s around 800,000 people in the South Island, we’ll achieve much more with a united stance from our leaders than a competitive one.

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton was a guest on Afternoon’s panel yesterday afternoon when this was discussed.

Law change could save cost of by-election with bob-each-way candidates


When then-Waitaki District deputy mayor Gary Kircher decided to stand for the mayoralty he chose to make it all or nothing – standing for mayor and not the council as well.

It was always going to be tough to beat a first-term mayor when there were no defining issues. Gary came a credible second which means now he’s neither mayor nor councillor.

Had he taken the bob each way approach he’d probably still be on the council. But had he done that and won, the District would be facing a by-election, as it did three years ago when then-councillor,  Alex Familton stood for council and mayor and won both. When reporting on that, the ODT said a by-election cost about $11,000 in 2007.

Central Otago is facing the expense of a by-election this time round for the same reason. Tony Lepper won a seat as councillor in the Earnscleugh-Manuherikia ward and his bid for the mayoralty.

There is nothing in legislation to stop people standing for more than one position on the same council even though success in both will trigger a by-election and I’m not sure it would be in the best interests of democracy if there was.

However, a law change could enable the next-highest polling candidate to take the council seat with the proviso that a petition by 10% of registered voters could request a by-election.

That would save the expense of a by-election if the bob-each way candidates won two seats and still safeguard democracy by enabling people to request a by-election if enough of them objected to the runner-up taking the seat.

Some old mayors some new in south


Two southern mayors lost their seats in the local body elections.

Central Otago District elected Tony Lepper, with sitting mayor Malcolm MacPherson coming in third place behind another challenger Jeff Hill.

Clutha District’s new mayor is Bryan Cadogan who beat the incumbent Juno Hayes who was seeking a fifth term.

Queenstown Lakes District has its first female mayor – Vanessa van Uden . Sitting mayor Clive Geddes didn’t seek re-election.

Waitaki District re-elected Alex Familton with a majority of 1183 over the only serious challenger and former Deputy mayor, Gary Kircher.

Invercargill people gave Tim Shadbolt a majority of more than 11,000 over challenger Suzanne Prentice.

Southland mayor Frano Cardno was returned for her seventh term.

Gore mayor Tracy Hicks was not challenged.

Timaru returned sitting mayor Janie Annear for a third term.

Mackenzie District elected Claire Barlow as its new mayor by only 30 votes.

Further north I’m delighted Christchurch voters returned Bob Parker as mayor – and not just because he defeated Jim Anderton.

Len Brown beat John Banks to be first mayor of the new Auckland council. Voters also delivered a left-leaning council which disproves accusations from the left that uniting Auckland was a right-wing plot.

I think this means Robert Guyton, a regular commenter here, won a seat on the Southland Regional Council. If so, congratulations.

Will polls influence vote?


In general elections advertising or polling which might influence voters is not permitted after midnight on election eve.

With postal voting for local body elections campaigning and polling continues after the ballot papers have been distributed.

The ODT published a poll  last weekend of Clutha, Central Otago, Waitaki and Queenstown Lakes Districts which showed a couple of close results but will it influence the vote?

In Clutha Juno Hayes, the sitting mayor, had 34.8% with challengers Hamish Anderson and Bryan Cadogan tied on 31.3%.

In Central Otago sitting mayor Malcolm Macpherson had 38.7% support with Tony Lepper on 37.8% and Jeff Hill on 23.4%.

The Clutha race appears to reflect dissatisfaction with the incumbent but the split in the opposition may let him slip through. However the poll had a margin of error of 11.4% so it’s still anyone’s race.

In Central results show those who support the incumbent should vote for him and those who don’t you’d have a better chance of unseating him if they vote for Lepper than Hill.

In Queenstown Lakes Vanessa Van Uden received 62.5% support with Simon Hayes on 32.8%. In Waitaki sitting mayor Alex Familton had 54.8% support with current deputy mayor Gary Kircher gaining 37.5%.

Both should give the leaders some comfort but with margins of error of 9.6% in Queenstown Lakes and 9.3% in Waitaki there  is still the possibility of an upset.

Did the poll influence my vote? No, I posted my ballot paper on Tuesday after reading the results but they didn’t show change my mind over who I was supporting.

However, had I not already decided who I was supporting the poll may have been a factor I took into account.

UPDATE: The NBR quotes AUT University’s Institute of Public Policy director David Wilson who says those worried about the influence of polls shouldn’t underestimate voters.

Another march for democracy


While assorted groups marched for democracy in Auckland, people were marching in Oamaru for a similar cause:

They were part of the street parade in the Victorian Heritage Celebrations.

Waitaki Mayor, Alec Fmailton, Mayoress Heather, the Queen of Victorian Oamaru and celebration committee chair, Sally Hope travelled by horse drawn carriage:

Also on parade, though not necessarily in support of votes for women were foot soldiers of Alf’s Imperial Army:

Emergency services were represented with an ambulance . . .

. . . a fire engine  . . .

. . . and a policeman:

There was steam power . . .

. . . and pedal power:

And if Donna Demente’s car was a few decades ahead of the Victorian era, what it lacked in historical authenticity was more than compensated for by its artistry:

There’s races . . . Updated


There’s races and there’s the heritage race day which opened Oamaru’s annual Victorian heritage celebrations.

Alf’s Imperial Army stood guard over the official party as Celebration committee chair, Sally Hope,  welcomed the crowd:

There were horses and sulkies – full size with professional jockeys and ponies with young drivers.

The celebrity celebrity race featured Waitaki Mayor Alec Familton, the Wizard, The Queen of Victorian Oamaru and North Otago rugby player Ross Hay, paired with reinsmen.

There was also a race for penny farthings:

Many of the race goers dressed in Victorian finery, some of whom competed for the fashion in the field awards.

The Queen declared the celebrations open with cut-glass vowels and was still smiling sweetly, loyal guardsman at her side, at the end of the day:

The ODT coverage of the day is here.

The heritage celebrations started modestly with a small fete 19 years ago and are now the biggest annual event in the Waitaki District.

This year’s programme includes a Swaggers and servants dance, a ball, the national penny farthing championships and the world stone sawing championships. Celebrations conclude on Sunday with a Victorian fete.

UPDATE: TV3 was at the races too with words and video.

Racing start to Victorian Heritage Celebrations


Forget Royal Ascot and the Melbourne Cup, the not-to-be-missed event of this year’s racing calendar is taking place in Oamaru.

The opening of the annual Victorian Heritage Celebrations will be a combined celebration with the Oamaru Harness Club to mark its 100th anniversary.

dairy 10007

A village green atmosphere will be created at the race course for the twilight race meeting with mini-marquees erected for businesses and the public encouraged to bring a picnic lunch, have a punt, and soak up the atmosphere.

One of the day’s ‘heritage’ features will be an invited drivers race.

In addition to some fine harness racing action, a unique array of events has been planned including the release of 100 homing pigeons to mark the Club’s centennial; a dual Sulky Celebrity Race featuring guests including Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, Mayor Alex Familton and The Wizard; a penny farthing stunt rider and sprint races; a Saddle Pace and a Horse & Carriage Parade.

Victorian dress is encouraged but not required. Racegoers who do dress in period costume will be able to enter  the Victorian Fashion in the Fields competition with attractive prizes. Away from the track and live entertainment, a village tipster and full dining, bar and tote facilities will form part of a grand day out.

The twilight meeting starts at 2.30pm on Wednesday November 18.

Nikken Seil Dream Over


Dr Hirotomi Ochi  bought Teschmakers, a former Catholic girls’ boarding school, and 500 hectares of land in 2001 to set up an international centre in North Otago for health sciences and the growing and processing of organic foods.

But he died nearly three years ago. Now his company, Nikken Seil is selling the 22ha it bought north of Oamaru to establish a business park and the sale of the school and surrounding land is expected to follow.

Nikken’s principal shareholder Dr Hirotomo Ochi, who died in October 2005, bought Teschemakers for about $500,000 in 2000, and from that sprang the idea of the business park and the purchase of about 500ha of farmland to produce organic foods for processing.

Dr Ochi was also the principal shareholder in food company Nikken Foods, but since his death the projects – which could have created hundreds of jobs – have languished.

Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay yesterday said the business park land was still “a huge opportunity long term”.

“Nothing has changed, except the possibility of having Japanese enterprises and industries. It’s given us the opportunity for a much-needed industrial area for the town,” he said.

The international college was a big dream and the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the old school buildings, including an historic homestead which was destroyed by fire part way through the restoration, and rebuilt.


 The school ought to be worth a lot more than its $500,000 purchase price now the buildings have been restored  – if someone with a new dream can be found to buy it.


 Waitaki Mayor  Alex Familton agrees with his predecssor that there is still potential for a business park.


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