Crux leaves Qtown Chamber of Commerce over CEO silence

Jul 07, 2021

Crux has today cancelled our membership of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce following the refusal of their new CEO, Ruth Stokes, to respond to our media enquiries.

The Chamber represents the district’s businesses – big and small. Crux has been a member of the Chamber since our launch in May 2018 and has enjoyed a good working relationship with the previous CEOs Ann Lockhart and Anna Mickell. Crux has also funded Chamber business events and facilitated strong dialogue with both the local business network and the local community generally.

In a recent situation on June 28th, Crux was following up on a report carried by RNZ news that Mrs Stokes was asking for further Government financial support for Queenstown businesses following the collapse of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

All of Crux calls to Mrs Stokes on the day were rejected and none of our messages left with Chamber office staff were responded to.

Qtown Chamber Chair Angela Spackman - quoted in local media re: Ruth Stokes ‘‘she’s got a lot of get-up and go’’

Eventually we asked for the assistance of Chamber Chair Angela Spackman who told Crux that “Ruth deals with the media” and that Spackman herself would intervene and arrange for Stokes to call Crux. No such call happened even after Mrs Spackman’s intervention.

Therefore, we have made the decision to cancel our membership. We still expect that the Chamber’s CEO will be available in future to respond to our media enquiries and that Crux will receive media releases from the Chamber along with other local and national news media.

Mrs Stokes is the owner, with her husband, of ZQN7 Ltd a newly formed company that was paid over a million dollars in 2018 – 2020 by QLDC and other clients for various consultancy work. The QLDC work was subsequently found to have been incorrectly contracted in a manner that did not comply with the council’s own financial rules. The QLDC work was also over $200,000 above the agreed budget.

Mrs Stokes is a former senior QLDC manager.

Main Image: Queenstown Chamber CEO Ruth Stokes.

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  • Geoff Hughes : 13/07/2021, 11:44 am (23 months ago)

    As a broad rule of thumb, people in public office have something to hide if they do not respond to reasonable requests from the media. Based on what I have read in Crux articles, there are some legitimate questions to be answered. Silence does not look good for her reputation.

  • Martin Barrett : 10/07/2021, 5:58 pm (23 months ago)

    Mrs Stokes and ZQN7 clearly know how to work the system to their personal advantage. However, in her present role, she needs to be more approachable. The epithet of 'Ruthless' is probably justified.

  • Lynnette Scott : 8/07/2021, 8:51 am (23 months ago)

    Crux I think your investigative reporting is outstanding. However, a bit confused why you would cancel your membership to Chamber of Commerce? Surely just reporting that Ms. Stokes is not answering valid questions would have been the correct action. It does feel like this is becoming a personal vendetta.

  • Findlay Davison : 7/07/2021, 6:35 pm (23 months ago)

    A real professional. Perhaps she’s on holiday while doing some consulting work on the side for the council? Mowing the lawns at the XQN7 HQ empty section……?