Charity Gig For Nepal

12 Aug

St Teresa’s School, Bluff, presents a charity gig for Nepal, happening on 25th October 2015 from 12 noon at Bluff Arena (the new Bluff Oyster festival site)

Featuring tons of great bands and other entertainment. More info on

Bar facilities by Invercargill Brewery. Food carts and great coffee… and … a special secret guest to be announced soon….

Tickets available on Trade Me have NO BOOKING FEES, no limits on quantity and a flat shipping rate.

181780 Nepal Benefit Concert Poster jpeg

Print it out and share it around everyone.

This event is being run by St Teresa’s Bluff and funds will go to Caritas to support the needy in Nepal.

Ministry Response To My Bus Related Queries

7 Aug

I asked the following of the Ministry of Education regarding the bus rules

Recently this article was highlighted to me.  I am wanting more information.

 Who makes the decision/signs permission….principal, teacher, or board?

 Is there a ‘form’? If yes, I would like a copy.

 Could I have a copy of the policy/rules/criteria?  And when was it first brought in and how? gazetted?

 According to the article it has existed for a while….what has prompted the need to enforce the policy?

They responded with the following

Thank you for your email about Ministry of Education funded school transport assistance (STA).


Caregivers are free to choose the school their children attend but that choice may affect a child’s eligibility for STA. To be eligible for Ministry funded STA, students must meet the Ministry’s STA eligibility criteria (I attach Factsheet 1, for your information) and STA is designed to meet the travelling needs of eligible students.  However, where a student is deemed ineligible for Ministry STA, (for example, because they are not attending their nearest appropriate school), the bus provider may permit the student to use the bus as a fare paying passenger by meeting certain conditions.  These conditions, and subject to vehicle capacity, are that the bus operator must first obtain written permission of all schools affected by the bus route.  Additionally, no eligible students are to be disadvantaged either by not being able to have a seat or having their journey unduly delayed.


The rules around the transport of ineligible students are set in the Ministry’s bus operator contract. You can also see them in Factsheet 3 attached. The Ministry provides funded assistance to eligible students only, and the decision to carry ineligible students is made by the bus operator. The Ministry allows that in its bus operator contract, provided that the operator ensures the ineligible students meet the conditions of travel for ineligible students as set out in the contract clauses.


Of the conditions related to your query, the requirement to pay a fare and to get permission from the schools serviced by the route has been in the bus operator contract since 1 January 2009, when the current school bus contracts commenced. The wording relating to permission from schools was updated from ‘schools serviced’ by the route (ie; schools with eligible students travelling on the bus service) to ‘schools affected’ by the route (ie; all schools with a Transport Entitlement Zone the bus route travels through) with the national contract extension variations from 1 January 2015.


Our bus operators were asked to update their ineligible student passengers and schools about the requirements for the transport of ineligible students. Meeting the conditions of transport of ineligible students is a contractual requirement and should have been enforced since the start of 2009.  The policy about eligibility has been in place for decades.


We don’t specify that it needs to be the Board of Trustees or the Principal of the school who signs off permission, but it must be someone who has the authority to act on behalf of the school. There is no form to complete but the permission must be in writing.


The Ministry is considering the rules around the transport of ineligible students on Ministry school buses. However, this will take time as it needs to be considered in a wider context as any change to the rules would apply to all students nationally.




Nicola Howie | Team Leader | School Transport

Long Time No See

12 Jul

Yes, it has been a very, very long time.  I thought I would rear my head for a moment because of an issue that many find interesting (when they hear about it).  Generally no one gives a shite until it affects them, I have found that most people don’t even know this affects them – at all!

I am referring to the money taken out of our community each year; predominately by elected members.  Mrs Mitchell (ow – that hurt my tongue) has reported it in the Bluff Beacon but a lot of people don’t read the Beacon.

Here it is from the Beacon:


The Local Government Act comes into the community board rate and I don’t have the time to get into that one right now but the Bluff Town Hall Rate needs comment I feel.

The back story is that ICC sold it to ‘Bluff’ for a dollar and the Bluff Community Charitable Trust took ownership as the legal entity that ‘owns’ it on our behalf.  The community board has three members on the Trust (the chair has to be a board member and has casting vote if a vote is tied).   Within no time the community trust (through the board at a board meeting) created the Bluff Town Hall Rate (2005/06 I think) and the Statement of Proposal claimed it would not need to go up in the next ten years.  It was $5.00 + GST.  It kept climbing to more than $8 and now we have it jumping up to $15.07 per property.

Going back three years we have the following expenses for the Bluff Town Hall







It needs to be said that the 2014 finances show a $8,868 deficit BUT it should also be noted that the ICC rate levy (Bluff Town Hall rate) is not shown so the real deficit is only around $800.  One would hope they will be correcting this ‘error’.

I am at a loss to see where the $19K of operating costs are.  I am also at a loss to see where the $7K of maintenance every year is given PD are seen doing work there regularly.

Long story short …..what efforts are being made to reduce the costs on the Bluff ratepayers?  This equates to $19K out of the Bluff economy.  I would like to see funding applications for solar power in the long term but for now – why are we paying full rates for what is supposed to be a community centre?  Is this so they can make the improvements on the toilets etc?  If that is the case…that is NOT ‘operating costs’.  Making the town hall suit the needs of the changing community (and compliant for disabled users) easily suits the criteria for lotteries funding.

I have things to get on with right now but this is a big fail due to what seems to be laziness.  The Trustees need to do better and involve the community more rather than tapping them for more money without increased benefits to the residents.

Front Page News

9 May

It seems the oyster festival made the front page of the Beacon, not for its new site or upcoming event but to breakdown the public record finances.  Great detail was given including trustee changes and properties owned by the trust.  Even the depreciation schedule information was outlined.  BTW the schedule points out the ‘3 sheds’ are listed at cost.  The finances show the end of their financial year to be 30 September therefore the $78K is only what had been paid as at the 30 September.  Next year’s depreciation schedule will paint a very different picture.

The latter part of the front page outlines the community board handling of process.  The irony is not lost on me, Mitchell bastardised process for years and now here she is implying it is a travesty.  Or is it only a travesty because it is the oyster festival?

Is this the beginning of a series?  Can we expect a breakdown of other local trusts finances.  Bluff Hill/Motupohue Environment Trust own land now, the medical centre is essential in our community, maybe they will be next?  The pool, the maritime museum…?  Oops can’t do that (behind on their financial reporting responsibilities).  The museum has always been on the back foot though, even in Mitchell’s day as Chairperson of the maritime museum.  Some people have short memories.

Nb:  Evan Penniall is not a trustee as stated.  Very little followed LGOIMA procedure, I agree.  Bullet point tabled Chairperson’s report.  The resolution to allow members of the public to remain was also stuffed up.  SNAFU, its like they are mirroring you Jan.

I wait with bated breath for the next installment of Bluff’s not for profit organisations.

Something For Bluffies To Consider

9 May

Given an over 100% increase in the Bluff Town Hall Rate I asked this on the community board facebook page

Why is the Bluff Town Hall Rate going up from $8.35 to $15.00 per property?

Here is the response

Ray Fife says “because the overwhelming responses was to retain the town hall, we neededed to upgrade, meaning toilets, meeting hall, kitchen etc. We put a survey out last year, and the majority of responses was to retain and upgrade, so that’s what we are doing. The decision was made by the Bluff Community Trust.” Apologies, Ray Fife is currently away on holiday.

My thoughts

1: I don’t care if ‘Ray Fife is currently away on holiday.‘  I didn’t ask anyone in particular to respond.

2: The ‘Bluff Community Trust’ has three community board members on it, one being Ray Fife so don’t try to (inappropriately) distance yourself from the situation.  Front up with all the information, don’t try to redirect or distance yourself.

3: “We put a survey out last year, and the majority of responses was to retain and upgrade, so that’s what we are doing.” – Why have I not seen anything in minutes or on the community board facebook page outlining this?  What avenues have they already tried to get fund it?

I asked

Did the elected members representing us on the trust look at other funding options before approaching the ratepayers (100%+ increase)…

The response

Ray Fife says, “I’m aware the Bluff Comunnity Trust over a number of years now have applied to community funders for funding and have been unsuccessful. We tried for funding in other avenues without success. The other option without adequate funding was to look at shutting it dfown.” Ray Fife is happy to be contacted by phone (027 447 5317) if you wish to discuss this further

And I offered

There are six trustees.If the trustees can’t get the funding maybe the community can be involved, it was intended to be a ‘community asset’….I would help with funding applications etc….if applications have been made then quotes must have been obtained – you can email the quotes to me along with the declined funding applications and I’d be happy to help (and know some others that probably will)

How sad the community is not approached to help rather than expected to fund it.  The increase has not come to my attention through minutes or community board facebook.  I had to look it up.  Communication is two way street.



A New Mantra

9 May


I have received a response to one of my questions.  ICC have provided the In Committee report of CEO Richard King regarding the Kakapo and Tuatara enclosure.  It shows that it is a $3.4M unit (including interest).

And can anyone tell me how that report requires public exclusion ‘for negotiations’?  Councillors deliberating on how to spend our money is not ‘negotiations’ is it?.  Is it not role of the elected member?  Should ALL deliberations be done in public excluded then?

The Long Con

7 May

good editorial today but I am curious as to why their is so much ambiguity around the Otagonet shares.  Granted the companies office document listing is not a clear picture, it does give some insight.

Screenshot 2015-05-07 07.56.02

This looks to be Pylon (EIL division) transferring their $3.2m worth of shares to Last Tango (The Power Company Ltd division) on the same day the joint venture company was formed to invest in the wind farm.  What is not clear however is where they purchased the $3.2m originally as the share transaction prior to the one above is dated before the approval was given by ICC (I would not be surprised by that though).

Screenshot 2015-05-07 08.27.55

It is the companies responsibility to hold an up to date share register, surely our councillors are allowed access to that (as reps of the shareholder)?  It is forgotten by many that if an elected member holds a position (on any organisation) as an elected member then everything he/she holds is subject to LGOIMA.



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