In a process that started two years ago, the board allocated $16,000 to “investigate existing international relationships in Rodney and explore opportunities to enhance the economic benefits from these relationships”.
Board member Steven Garner says the Board wanted to produce something to promote Rodney to people outside of the region and the project was funded from money, which had to be spent by the end of that financial year.
“I think the video is really good,” Mr Garner says.
The video is being put onto USB sticks, which schools can include in information packs to encourage international students from overseas, he says.
“We decided the video would have a greater impact and generate more views if students were given a physical copy.”
Member Beth Houlbrooke says she was reluctant for the Board to spend money on the project, but the Board would have lost the money if it hadn’t.
“It could have a wider benefit because it could be used by small tourism businesses in Rodney as a way to promote the area,” she says.
But, despite the video being completed six months ago, Council still has not made it publicly available or done anything to promote it to local business.
Board member Greg Sayers says international relations shouldn’t be a focus for the Board.
“Council should be focusing on core business and not getting involved in social and economic issues for which government is responsible.”
Part of the money was spent commissioning a report from Ford Thinking Group (agenda item 20).
The report, completed in January last year, recommended the Board commission video production company 90SecondsTv to produce a video to showcase the assets of Rodney and welcome international students, business people and visitors to the region.
Other options included printing 600 Rodney t-shirts for every international student which would “give wearers the opportunity to start a conversation about Rodney”, or to work with the Rodney Times to include a regular column on international related stories to “position Rodney as international in the minds of local residents”.
But the report recommended a video because, “the power of video lies in its ability to evoke an emotional response, convey the beauty and diversity of a region and can be made available to a broad audience”.
In February, it agreed to spend a further $2800 to produce 300 branded USB flash drives to be distributed to Rodney schools. The drives were created in conjunction with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development’s (ATEED) Study Auckland programme, and included an additional video promoting Auckland as a study destination for international students.
Council staff took nearly a month to provide a breakdown of the costs, but was unable to provide a copy of the video. Local Board communications specialist Francis Martin says the video will be uploaded to the Rodney Local Board Facebook page “in the near future”.
But Mahurangi Matters has found a copy of the video on YouTube which was uploaded by 90SecondsTv in November.
Last year the Board was criticised for going on a $170,000 spending spree when it discovered $170,000 of unspent funds in its budget. Within the space of a few days, the money was allocated and spent, with a low level of scrutiny.