A Wanaka man who started an online petition to support the idea of a new and separate local council for the resort town has been amazed by the response so far.
Dean Rankin, a self-employed mechanic, has lived in Wanaka for more than four decades and said he started the petition because he was “fed up with the direction we are going with the Queenstown Lakes District Council”.
He believed the council wasted money, infrastructure and roading projects were taking too much time and no local contractors were involved in any of the work.
Mr Rankin said he had complained to councillors but it had “fallen on deaf ears” so he contacted the Local Government Commission to ask how Wanaka could go it alone.
He was told the first step was to start a petition and have at least 10% of the eligible voters support a commission investigation and review of the district’s representation.
On Friday night, Mr Rankin posted online “Petition for the Upper Clutha to break away from the QLDC”, and by yesterday morning he had more than half of the 1500 signatures required.
“If we can overwhelm them [the commission] with an astonishing amount rather than the 10%, that would be the icing on the cake to say, business’.”
Mr Rankin said he had been amazed at the support he had received both through social media and phone calls.
“Everyone seems to say the same thing, all our ratepayers’ money is going over the hill and what are we seeing back for it?”
Queenstown Lakes District Council Wanaka ward councillor Niamh Shaw said it was essential the Upper Clutha area had better representation, “whatever form that takes”.
district, I believe the disconnect felt by this particular community is not unique to here.
understand more about the practical implications of the proposal,
Wanaka Community Board chairman Barry Bruce said the local government minister had recently appointed a panel to undertake a review of how local government would look over the next 30 years.
The review panel hoped to have early findings to release in October and indications given then might or might not lend weight to any changes, he said.
“I think any discussion prior to this would be premature and inappropriate,” Mr Bruce said.
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult and council chief executive Mike Theelen were contacted for their response to the petition but at the time of going to print The News had not received a reply.
Mr Rankin said he expected the process to be a long one but the petition was “the first step to get what we want”.
At last count he had more than 870 signatures.