Three Hibiscus Coast representatives on the local board, whose campaign promises included “getting things done” have set about their work in a way that is ruffling the feathers of some other local board members, Auckland Transport and the local business association.
Andy Dunn, Gary Brown and Leanne Willis stood for the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board on the Coast People and Penlink First ticket in 2019 and all were successful. Brown became chair.
Recently their Coast People slogan resurfaced on a community noticeboard on Orewa Reserve (by the basketball courts), together with a map of local points of interest, and advertisements for three businesses owned by Dunn, Brown and Willis.
Dunn, a graphic artist, says Auckland Transport originally suggested a sign but post-Covid the budget for it dried up.
“We [Coast People] decided to make it happen, to promote the area,” he says.
He designed a concept, which he showed to business association Destination Orewa Beach’s Hellen Wilkins and informally to the local board.
“I’m pretty sure all the local board members saw it, and there was no negative feedback, so we went ahead,” he says.
Brown and Dunn then approached the Orewa Lions Club about the community noticeboard the club owns on Orewa Reserve.
“I approached Lions about hiring it and found that they no longer wish to maintain it,” Dunn says. “So we bought it for $600, cleaned and repaired it, then put up our sign.”
Lions will use that money for community projects.
In total, Dunn says the work cost the three of them around $1000, which he sees as a community donation. “We put our ads where we had space to fill, to get something back,” he says.
Among the attractions listed are the NZ Walk of Fame, owned by Brown, while the Orewa Estuary walk/cycleway is not included.
“Walkways would have made the map too busy,” Dunn says, “And Gary wants to promote the Walk of Fame stars. We can make changes as time goes on.”
Dunn says there wasn’t room to offer advertising space to other local businesses – something that Destination Orewa’s Hellen Wilkins finds disappointing.
“We offered to fund the sign, and agreed to put our logo on it, but heard nothing more until the map appeared in early December,” she says. “We appreciate it for what it offers, but I question the use of the Coast People brand, and ads for the personal business of local board members – surely that is a conflict of interest?”
The other Hibiscus member of the local board, Janet Fitzgerald, says members must be very careful about conflicts between their official work and their business interests.
She says the first she knew about the sign, was when she saw it on the noticeboard.
“If any business wants to put up a sign on a public reserve, they need local board approval,” Fitzgerald says. “It has also been used as a political tool, which is inappropriate. There are rules and processes, and they don’t seem to care about that.”
Dunn says Coast People will continue to look for ways to help the community, outside their local board work.
“We are not orthodox politicians,” he says. “We are more community inspired and just want to get things done.”
Orewa Citizens Advice (CAB) volunteers were given cards for their car windows by local board member Andy Dunn to try and prevent parking tickets.
Volunteers have been ticketed since restrictions came in outside CAB.
The slips, made by Dunn, feature the local board logo but the board had no input or knowledge about them.
“I produced cards to identify the volunteers and hopefully engage some common sense from the parking warden,” Dunn says. “This needs fixing before our volunteers quit!”
Initially the system worked, but towards the end of January, Auckland Transport (AT) again began ticketing volunteers. AT spokesperson Mark Hannan says the local board has been advised the cards have no legal standing.
Including the local board logo on the cards is something member Janet Fitzgerald describes as “disgusting”.
“I know Andy was pushing to get an exemption for CAB from AT, but if that doesn’t work he should not do this without consultation,” she says.
Meanwhile, Dunn says the slips were a means to an end.
“[Local board chair] Gary Brown is talking with AT to try and get recent parking tickets put aside,” Dunn says. “Our ‘on duty’ slips may have got the parties to a point of finding a long term solution.”