I’ll answer the burning question — “Upon whom?!” — in a moment.

But first a word on covering the Napier Council.

Since the election, a variety of people have urged BayBuzz to devote more coverage to the Napier Council. I’ve tried to explain all along that the problem is … nothing ever happens at the Napier Council. Then I urge them to go see for themselves. And of course they never do.

But listening to our faithful readers, I investigated a bit and discovered that we have done some 302 blog posts that mentioned Napier. That’s not bad. [OK, I’ll admit, some of those might have said things like … Napier doesn’t need a Council, they have a monarchy run by a Queen Mother.]

Those 302 posts, I might add, are in the context of having written 1,004 BayBuzz posts so far in total (passing the 1,000 article milestone last week … get out your vuvuzelas!)

Anyway, I bit my lip and headed over to Napier yesterday to do my reporting duty. I figured, hey, they have two back-to-back committee meetings … better odds that something will make the trip worthwhile.

At first it didn’t look too promising.

The meeting of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee, chaired by Councillor Bill Dalton, lasted all of ten minutes (including a report from the Mayor on the visit by Napier’s Japanese sister city friends). This despite the fact that the agenda included pay levels for the Councillors (an ordinary Councillor pockets $34,000, in case you’re interested) and a “review” (I use the term loosely) of Council’s expenditures for the first quarter of the fiscal year (one question arose on that item, otherwise the meeting might have ended in nine minutes).

But then things livened up. The second meeting was the Regulatory Committee, the important committee chaired by Councillor Rob Lutter, dealing with by-laws, liquor bans, urban design, consents and RMA issues … potentially meaty stuff.

An “intense” (again I use the word loosely) debate ensued as NCC pondered declaring escalating the war on skateboarders. Actually, most Councillors seemed to agree that these were indeed nasty little creatures, posing a genuine threat to the safety and security of the Art Deco City. The argument was over how much to charge them to retrieve their boards if they were apprehended skateboarding in forbidden areas — $150 (proposed by the draconian staff), $100 (proposed by the peacemaker Chairman), or $20 (proposed by rebellious soft-on-crime backbenchers).

The outcome — the offending buggers will now be slammed with a $20 charge to recover their boards … but only for repeat offenders. [A proposal to dump the confiscated skateboards on Heretaunga Street in Hastings in the middle of the night, although greeted enthusiastically by Councillors, was left to lie on the table.]

The skateboard item, plus three others, took 25 minutes to resolve.

So all was said and done in 35 minutes. And witnessed by one other member of the public.

Now, I’m not compensated for the reporting I do for BayBuzz. But at least I can have fun writing stories like this one.

It’s hard to comprehend how real media can justify sending paid reporters to endure cover meetings like these … and, moreover, even expect them to serve up serious coverage of what they witness.

That said, I hear you BayBuzz readers … if you want more coverage of the Napier Council, we will do our best to comply. Sooner or later a hot issue — maybe a street closure in your neighborhood — will surface.

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. please stop – someone might get the bright idea that Napier CC is so quaintly redundant it could be amalgamated without anyone knowing. oops! someone did….

  2. Maybe Tom and Some Councillors could observe some Friday/Saturday Napier community patrols after 10pm until 2am doing their jobs and listening to the Police reports – Councilors may then realise Napier actually needs to have some significant input into sorting out our social problems and teenage alcohol, substance and physical abuse. Interesting how many kids as young as 8-10 are roaming around on bikes at these hours. Where are their parents? Tom you'll find things to write about.

  3. Tom, I’m liking your ‘crossing-out’ editing technique – saves having to do versions and is so much more honest. Please continue.

    As for skateboarders … the sooner we wipe out Deco’s ‘manufactured-consent’ the better. Carry on teen boys and girls. Destroy, destroy, destroy … you are our soldiers.

  4. “Skateboards made people frightened and anxious” Ooh, jinkees!

    This reminds me of the movie “Hot Fuzz”:

    In the twee little village of Sanford, Gloucestershire, constantly named “Village of the Year” the village committee members start knocking off young “hoodies”, travelling gypsies, jugglers etc. to maintain the image of their pristine bit of history.

    Committee meetings are held at a round table in the ruins of a local castle with the members wearing long hooded robes and chanting “the public good!” whenever some subversive action is decided upon to protect their village’s image.

    Sounds kinda familiar now, don’t it?

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