Ruth Stokes resigns from Chamber of Commerce

by Peter Newport - Nov 03, 2022

The woman behind the $600,000 ZQN7 procurement scandal at QLDC has resigned from the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

Ruth Stokes stepped into the Chamber's CEO role in 2020 at a time when the organisation's finances were weak, having lead to the self-imposed redundancy of the previous CEO Anna Mickell. Crux attempts to discover the source of the funding for Stokes' salary resulted in her banning us from membership of the Chamber. Membership would have given us access to the Chamber of Commerce annual accounts.

Former Assistant Auditor General Bruce Robertson became a close colleague of Ruth Stokes on lucrative external consultancy projects and was paid via ZQN7. He remains QLDC's "go to" man for independent reviews and code of conduct investigations

Crux revealed that Stokes was in fact working extensively throughout New Zealand as a highly paid consultant while being in the "full time" employment of the Chamber.

Mrs Stokes also become well known, for the wrong reasons, when she declared to national media that Queenstown would be "closed by Friday" due to Government Covid restrictions. Numerous local businesses had to scramble to convince media that Queenstown would not in fact be closed by Friday.

There was also strong support for the controversial Lakeview project from Ruth Stokes while her business colleague, former Assistant Auditor-General Bruce Robertson, carried out a fairly non-consequential review of the project's council governance for the QLDC.

Mrs Stokes told Mountain Scene today that much had been achieved by the chamber during her term - overshadowed, largely, by a global pandemic - but it was "time for a new challenge".

The Queenstown Lakes District Council’s former senior economic development adviser, Sharon Fifield, will start with the chamber this month, leading business growth and capability and joining membership and development manager Fiona Reeve and events and marketing manager Rachel Clifford.

Stokes (right) and Paterson (left) controversially were involved in the rebuild of New Plymouth's Yarrow stadium - avoiding a procurement process to secure the work.

Mrs Stokes told the Mountain Scene that she was not planning to leave Queenstown, where she and her husband, via ZQN7 own a large unfinished property project in Turner Street. The Stokes Family share a large house in Arrowtown that is half owned/shared with Mrs Stokes ZQN7 colleague Jendi Paterson.

Both Stokes and Paterson are former QLDC staff members who were hired as consultants without the council using their procurement rules designed to deliver transparency and value for money to ratepayers.


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