QLDC pulls incomplete recording of Project Manawa hearing

by Kim Bowden - Feb 21, 2024

Story update, Monday, February 26: Crux has removed any reference suggesting any deliberate edit of the video by the council.

Story update, Friday, February 23: In response to ongoing questioning from Crux to understand what happened with the recording, Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesperson Sam White has today provided additional details.

He says the incomplete first recording of the submissions hearing "was caused because more than half of the video file corrupted during the upload process".

"Once we became aware of this, prior to any query from Crux, we took steps to rectify it. The first attempt was unsuccessful due to further technical issues. However, the full video was uploaded successfully at the second attempt around 12.40pm on Wednesday.

"Any suggestion that certain submissions were deliberately edited out are unfounded, misleading and unnecessarily inflammatory."

Crux has since asked for a copy of the original video file, and will continue to follow up on this next week.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has removed an incomplete recording of Monday's hearing of submissions on its controversial Project Manawa proposal, and replaced it with a full recording of public proceedings, hours after enquiries were made today by Crux.

The original, approximately 47-minute video was uploaded to the council's YouTube channel on Tuesday, a day after the hearing.

There was no reference to the recording being incomplete, but when Crux watched it back this morning it was discovered presentations by several higher profile submitters - among them managing editor Peter Newport, former councillor Cath Gilmour, former mayor Sir John Davies, and community advocate John Glover - were not included in the coverage.

The incomplete recording has now been taken down from the council's YouTube channel and replaced with another recording, which runs for just more than two hours and 40 minutes.

In an initial response to questions from Crux this morning regarding the lack of promised coverage of the day, a spokesperson for the council said, "This is not the complete recording and we're looking to rectify that".

Several hours later, Crux received a follow up reply, saying, "There were some initial issues getting the entire video online but this was completed earlier today".

The council spokesperson has refused to answer questions from Crux regarding who was responsible for the incomplete recording and why, instead saying the first version being made public was "an oversight" and it was "intended" that the entire footage be available for public viewing.

One of those whose views appear to have initially been missed off is John Glover, who says he talked "off the cuff" on the day and would want his presentation to be there for the record.

He has concerns about aspects of the public submission process for Project Manawa, saying, "It is very clear that staff are directing the decision making here, not the councillors who are supposed to listen and respond to submitters".

The three panel members - councillors Melissa White, Craig Ferguson and Lyal Cocks - were flanked by council staffers Meaghan Miller, Jon Winterbottom, assigned to take minutes, and Manawa project lead Paul Speedy, plus a lawyer from Meredith Connell, John Stephens.

Mr Glover says he was "quite shocked" at how closely surrounded by staff the councillors were and how staff were participating as it went along.

"This is very different to other hearings I have attended where staff are set apart...and respond to any questions but do not otherwise interject."

Crux managing editor Peter Newport, who presented the views of 600 respondents to an online survey on the Manawa proposal during the hearing, was also not in the first publicly available recording.

He says he is "surprised and alarmed" that an incomplete recording was publicly available for two days, with no reference to it not being a full version of events.

It is not the first time the council has come under fire for its management of public information on the submissions process, with Queenstown resident and former councillor Cath Gilmour last week telling Crux her full written submission was not among documents accompanying the agenda distributed ahead of the hearing.

She claims she was told even the councillors comprising the panel originally did not receive all submissions in full.

A statement to media last week that accompanied an agenda for the hearing said the event would be "live streamed via the QLDC Facebook page and/or recorded and published on the QLDC website".

The event was not live streamed.

The full recording of the hearing can now be viewed on the council's website and its YouTube channel.

Main image: A member of the public talks to their Project Manawa submission during a hearing in Queenstown on Monday, February 19, 2024.



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