Cr Elliott Speaks Out

jackie elliottKCDC have ‘missed the boat’ on Kapiti Island

By Alan Tristram

Kapiti District Councillor Jackie Elliott says the District Council (KCDC) has ‘missed the boat to save Kapiti Island tourism.’

Cr Elliott, a former tour guide on the island, says Island tour operators estimate business is down 80% on previous years.

And the least the KCDC can do, she says, is to act to get Kapiti Island put  back on the DOC booking website. 

She says: “Now we have the proof, numbers have plummeted from 1569 last January to 283 last month.

“The dramatic decline began with the Department of Conservations increase in daily permit charges from 1st Feb 2013 from $11.20 per adult to $29.80.

“DOC changes also saw Kapiti Island removed from the DOC online booking site, and loaded operators with increased levels of compliance costs and the full cost of supplying guides to carry out DOC bio security checks and introductory talks. “

Councillors Elliott says that when the KCDC has discussed economic growth, she has asked the Council repeatedly to ‘sit up and take notice of the decline.’

She adds: “We need to look after our existing tourism assets before investing in new ventures.”

  Cr Elliott says DOC are aware of the feedback and there will be a Ministerial Review in May. but says: ” We have been fobbed off. May is the middle of the year and tourism operators would normally be taking bookings for the 2015 summer season, the continuing delay puts yet another season in jeopardy.

“The long awaited $30,000 KCDC gateway report is due out on the 27th of March, however Cr Elliott says she doubts that  it will address the urgent action needed by Council to lobby the Minister of Conservation to save the local jobs and businesses at risk by DOC’s actions.

” The least we can do is suggest they get Kapiti back on the DOC booking website.”

Perhaps if DOC didn’t spend thousands and thousands of dollars flying shingle to kapiti (an island covered in shingle)by chopper (what bio threats come in mainland shingle ? ants etc), or didn’t use the approx $3,ooo a hit ferry to transport one or two staff at a time they wouldn’t need to increase the permit costs ?(typical Govt Dept just spend whats available mentality IMO)

A ministerial review will in all likelihood only address issues the Minister is made aware of, and as usual many issues are in the too hard basket for DOC staff to honestly let a ministerial review know about.
Why haven’t Tangatewhenua, local ratepayers, neighboring island residents, on and near Kapiti and other interested parties been involved in the review process ?

I was curious what would happen when the private operators gained their consent from the environment court with an enormous list of requirements, and if DOC would need to adopt the same safe practices, eg a bag checking facility on the mainland etc, which DOC themselves have never had.

“Cr Elliott, a former tour guide on the island, says Island tour operators estimate business is down 80% on previous years.”
there are two ferry operators and a private tour company. Elliott worked for one of the private ferry operators ?

I have always been disappointed that Kapiti is so inaccessible to its local community, maybe this will be addressed by the local council ? and prioritized over access by visitors in the future ?

Always cracks me up watching all these carts towing horses around the district.

Of course the Mayor is not directly responsible for the fall in numbers on Kapiti Island. However, I believe some indirect criticism can flow his way. In his 2010 Mayoral bid he promised to promote Kapiti Island, Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club and Southward Car Museum the jewels of the Kapiti coast. I suggest all three will show a drop in attendance in January 2014 compared with January 2013.
The Mayor has taken his eye off the ball. Instead of spending his energy and vigour attempting to restrict public speaking at council meetings and instead channelled his energies on promoting these three coast assets as promised, Kapiti would have something in which to applaud him.

Obviously you have a mayor issue not an Island one, IMO 🙂
Ross Church got in by a very clear majority 🙂

Mayor Ross Church promised in his mayoral campaign of 2010 to increase patronage to Kapiti Island. We are now told that the there has been a dramatic decline in attendance since he became Mayor. In January 2014 only 283 persons visited the island compared with 1569 last January when Jenny Rowan was Mayor. Has the community been sold a lemon?

Why is it the Mayors responsibility ? the permitted visitor numbers to Kapiti were indeed recently increased, dramatically.
January 2014 was terrible for boating !
What was the cancellation rate ?
Is the recent restructuring of DOC a factor ?
Lemon ?
The weather patterns / seasons are changing, globally, perhaps last years January will be this years Feb or March !
We could see Kapiti being busy June or even July this year 🙂
I wouldn’t be getting too excited over visitor numbers based on ten days past the month ?! usually business models or forecasting would look at longer term estimations and the like, surely ?

Thanks so much for your kind remarks. Please just give us any autosuggestion you’ve got. And, if possible and agreeable,we’ll try to follow them up. Alan Tristram, Editor