Dunedin decline

Dunedin has been in decline relative to cities up north for a long time. The 1980s and 1990s gutted the public service out of the city and it has struggled since.

Most major industry has gone. Freezing works are no more, Fisher & Paykel, which took over Shacklocks in the 1950s, shut their factory in 2008. Several years ago Hillside Workshops were shut down, and the Cadbury chocolate factory is set to close next year.

There are two things keeping the city from major decline – tertiary education, chiefly University of Otago (the oldest university in New Zealand, established in 1871),  and tourism, largely due to the growth in cruise ship visits.

The current city council, led by mayor Dave Cull, seems more intent on creating a green cycling city than on economic development. Whole blocks of car parks are being removed and replaced with barely used cycle lanes, with many more proposed.

The city has a reputation for being unfriendly to development. I have heard that developers don’t even try to set up in the city.

Several years ago a major waterfront hotel was proposed. It was slapped down by public opposition and regressive city planning practices because it was deemed to be too big,

Another major hotel development was proposed last year and has applied for consent, but it looks like that will also be slapped down.

ODT: Decline hotel consent: report

A planning report is recommending consent for Dunedin’s latest five-star hotel be declined.

The report, made public late this afternoon, has cited the hotel’s height, visual dominance of surrounding heritage buildings and shading impact as key reasons to decline consent.

A planning report is recommending consent for Dunedin’s latest five-star hotel be declined. The report, made public late this afternoon, has cited the hotel’s height, visual dominance of surrounding heritage buildings and shading impact as key reasons to decline consent.

Too big too. Probably not enough cycle parks.

The recommendation to the panel of independent commissioners came in a report by independent consultant Nigel Bryce, ahead of the public hearing beginning on July 31.

I expect there will be a lot of submissions in opposition, this will be cited as majority public opposition, and the project will be dumped.

There  has been a practice in Dunedin of small lobby groups stacking submission processes and claiming majority support for their opposition to development. They can do this as part of the democratic process, but it is not a democratic measure as they claim.


Despite an extra $100,000 of spending approved this week, the Dunedin City Council scraped in under its self-imposed 3% target for rates rises for the next financial year.

The council approved a budget that will see ratepayers asked for an extra 2.99% for 2017-18.

That’s again higher than inflation.

Mr Cull said some people had reservations about the annual plan process, which featured feedback meetings rather than formal submissions this year, before full submissions are brought back for the long-term plan next year.

But he said the council had engaged with the public well, and arrived at a figure under the 3% limit.

It was pleasing to keep faith with the community, and keep that promise, he said.

So they set an above inflation target and applaud themselves when they achieve it.

And the mayor has said that they could rise more next year.

ODT: Rates rise on the table: Cull

Rates rises are always on the table, it’s a matter of how big a rise. And they could get bigger.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says he would consider a rates rise of more than 3% next year, if the community signals it supports more spending.

Mr Cull said in The Interview the city did need to keep rates affordable.

The council has had a self-imposed 3% maximum increase for the past few years.

Yeah, right. From the council website:

However, he said: “We are already easily the cheapest city in the country and in the lower quartile of councils all around the country for rates.”

And Dunedin is one of the most poorly performing cities business-wise.

If the city wanted to “stand still” and maintain services, that close to 3% rise would continue, as that was the inflationary pressure on the council.

“If you want extra we’re going to have to spend some more.”

Asked if he would accept a rate increase higher than 3%, Mr Cull said he would.

The community, however needed to consider the value of what it would get for the cost involved, in next year’s long-term plan.

So the aim seems to be to get public acceptance – or at lest the perception of public acceptance via lobby groups – of increasing rates.

While rejecting major developments for the city. The only big goals seem to be cycleways and spending, therefore higher rates for residents, because the city keeps losing businesses and therefore business rates.

If, as is quite likely, education delivery changes in an Internet world and the University loses out then the city will not just struggle to keep up, it will decline even further.

And this is the latest council news: Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull’s defamation lawsuit settled for $50k

A Dunedin councillor has settled for $50,000 after taking defamation action against Mayor Dave Cull.

Councillor Lee Vandervis confirmed he settled the case because of legal delays and spiralling costs, but it comes without an apology.

The case was sparked by a heated exchange in December 2015. The mayor ejected the outspoken councillor from a council meeting after Vandervis claimed he paid a backhander to secure a council contract in the 1980s.

Council’s insurers felt that making a payment of $50,000 to Vandervis to cover his costs to date would be much less expensive for them than a successful court outcome.

Dunedin has lost it’s fire while the mayor and councillors burn each other.

Leave a comment


  1. Trumpenreich

     /  8th July 2017

    Flood it with Third Worlders, its working a treat in Auckland.

  2. Gezza

     /  8th July 2017

    That Mayor, PG. He’ll have to go ! 😡 Who else have you got ? 😳

  3. Brown

     /  8th July 2017

    Cities come and go as empires and economies wax and wane. Dunedin may be the biggest to decline so far but its size doesn’t make it exempt from change. More worrying is that this is a glimpse of what a Green NZ would look like – the only progress would be in social and moral disfunction.

  4. Corky

     /  8th July 2017

    Have I got a deal for you, Pete… but it will involve moving north… to Auckland. No snow, but you wont have to worry Goreies invading you on the weekend.

    • I’m actually quite happy in Dunedin. There are some things that can be done successfully from here despite a backward council.

      I communicate around the country from here.

      And I also work around the world in my day job. As well as New Zealand I have recently been working in Australia, South Africa, England and the UK (and a little in Dunedin but that is reducing) without having the hassle of travel.

      • Corky

         /  8th July 2017

        Technology is certainly making the world shrink. Was Dunedin any better under the governance of mayor, Dame Sukhi Turner?

  5. Conspiratoor

     /  8th July 2017

    Dunners has been earmarked as a prime spot for ME refugees. With numbers expected to rise and good breeding programmes in place, this decline might turn out to be a temporary thing and the place could look like Luton in 20 years or so

    “”We will make every effort to maintain, preserve and strengthen our home in New Zealand.”


    • There seems to be no concern about refugees here. They will make up only a small part of the population. There is a long established ex-Lebanese population here, as well as Chinese – we have had an ethnic Chinese Kiwi mayor, as well as an Indian born mayor. The gold rush in the 1860s ensure a smorgasbord of ethnicities coming through and settling here.

      • sorethumb

         /  8th July 2017

        How could concern about refugees be legitimately expressed?

      • sorethumb

         /  8th July 2017

        Invercargill is getting refugees also.
        A local publican has set up a Facebook page
        A local publican has set up a Facebook page
        A local publican has set up a Facebook page
        A local publican has set up a Facebook page
        “we asked the National Front for Comment”
        They also need a Chinese Garden: “the Chinese have always been here”

      • sorethumb

         /  8th July 2017

        How many people were bumped out of state houses?

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th July 2017

    Sad. The Scottish founders would be appalled. They knew the importance of business and wise use of resources. The trouble is when you throw out the entrepreneurs you are left with the bludgers. Even the medical school has been migrating north to Christchurch.

    • Trumpenreich

       /  8th July 2017

      “Sad. The Scottish founders would be appalled. ”

      Repeat after me everyone – “Demographics Is Destiny”.

      Economic growth and rising living standards are predicated on an expanding “youth” population – teens and working age population.

      This has CRASHED BIG TIME in the West and over the next decades will be evident across every continent except Africa where for example Nigeria’s population will continue to balloon until it has more people than the USA by mid century. Obviously Nigeria will be a failed state way before then and its teeming 100s of millions will be paddling across the Mediterranean.

      That is the biggest force compelling the Globalists to flood the West with fresh Third World blood.

      Also this is why debt has exploded to astronomical levels too in the West, a desperate attempt ( ZIRP, TWIST, QE ) to replace the natural declining demand of a rapidly aging population with humongous amounts of consumer debt and state debt to maintain the illusion of continuous economic expansion.

      Japan is Patient Zero.

      • sorethumb

         /  8th July 2017

        I disagree. What matters is population + resources + comparative advantage.
        Entrepreneurs are limited by the last two of these. Take Designline at Ashburton (bought out and moved to Rolleston for good practical reasons) and the embossing factory at Lawrence.
        Tourism earns as much as agriculture but has 3 times as many workers. Governments have been letting real-estate developers steer the ship?

  7. duperez

     /  8th July 2017

    Councillor Lee Vandervis has had a lot of publicity of over the years. Maybe he could be a guest poster on here outlining the positive projects he’s been part of promulgating to get some growth in the city, what he is working on now and other he sees as possibilities.

    I found this interesting: https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/24-06-2017/life-after-cadbury-how-can-dunedin-forge-a-new-future/

    Disclosure: I love Dunedin

  8. sorethumb

     /  8th July 2017

    Has anyone seen the story Of Oamaru at their Info Center?
    Austen Mitchell returns to Dunedin 2000


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