Kāpiti Mayor Ejects Beach Resident Trying To Make His Point At Council Meeting

A Paraparaumu Beach man has been ejected by the Mayor from the Kapiti District Council chambers as he argued against closing off the boat ramp site at Manly Street.

KCDC sign at the boat ramp

Manly street resident Dennis Grant was forced to leave after making an impassioned argument.

( Editor’s note: Our reporter assures us that Mr Grant was not obscene, offensive, or in any way violent. It appears to KIN the Mayor may have been over-reacting after racial slurs affected students. The Manly St issue was unrelated to that event)

Warning to public

Mayor K Gurunathan had opened the public speaking part of the meeting yesterday with a warning to the public not to make offensive comments.

This came after college students attending the KCDC February meeting discussing the proposed Kapiti Gateway centre said they had been subject to racial taunts.

The standoff between Mr Grant and the mayor came as councillors were facing a June 30 deadline to adopt a new Kapiti Coast District Council beach bylaw. The new bylaw is required under the Local Government Act.

The beach accessway saved after public protests

Mr Grant said there was no consistency in the proposal, the cost of keeping the site open had not been mentioned before, and despite the talk about consultation ‘there was no consultation with us.

At this point the mayor said he found Mr Grant’s comments excessive and asked him to leave.

Locals want site kept open

The staff proposal accepted that locals had previously asked for the site to stay open.

But it said Manly Street should be closed to boats because the no-driving law on Paraparaumu Beach is continually breached with real safety risks and the site itself has high maintenance costs. 

Later though , Kapiti councillors over-ruled Council staffers and Manly street site will remain open as a place to launch boats.

Submitter Helen Punton, a Manly street resident for 19 years, said many people who gained much enjoyment from the access way would be adversely affected by installing a barrier.

Roadway leading to boat ramp

She also said the Fire Service had not been consulted about the possible loss of the accessway.

One submitter prepared to give financial support

A third submitter, Roger Foley, said he was prepared to pay himself to keep the access in good condition, in view of its value to people with disabilities who still wanted to get to the beach.

The submitters won their argument when the district councillors voted to keep the Manly street access open. However, they voted for the rest of the proposals to go through despite opposition from hapu representatives.

Des Mullins from Te Atiawa wanted the by-law thrown out, particularly in relation to restrictions on vehicles at the beach.

“You people want to stop me from getting my kai.  This model is not working and it’s inconsistent with customary rights.”

The three amigos

And Jim Simmonds representing the Waikanae estuary users’ network used the hearing to ask for the old whitebait permit system to be reinstated.

He reflected the frustration felt by many traditional users about their loss of access.

“It’s the three amigos who decide everything,”
he said, ” DOC, Greater Wellington and the District Council.”

When I said “from the public gallery” I was referring to the location only, which includes the space allocated to reporters, the public and the Older Persons’ Council. I was not making any comment as to the role of the reporter. That doesn’t mean I’m not very uncomfortable with the subjective assumptions in the editorial side-note. Also, we all value public speaking immensely, but it needs to operate under the same expectations of respect and behaviour that we adhere to under our Standing Orders.

Thanks Janet. I’ll be writing an article soon about this subject (public speaking time) as it’s aomething I feel strongly about — and, of coure, it’s important.
Best wishes, Alan T

I was watching this on the live-feed. The present mayor was in a bad mood and managed to be discourteous to nearly every public speaker including local Maori; he seems to regard those Maori who opposed his Gateway as honorary ‘neo-colonialists’. More about that episode is to be made public.

In my view Mr Grant’s behaviours at the meeting was rude, disrespectful and inappropriate. We need to establish some expectations around conduct in our chamber. It’s up to the chair of the meeting what those standards are and how he chooses to respond. It would have been hard to see the aggression and gestures Mr Grant was displaying from behind so I reject any comments fr the public gallery about Mr Grant’s appropriateness or otherwise.

Kia Ora Janet. Our reporter, Jeremy Smith, is a highly-trained and exoerienced journalist. It is wrong to refer to ‘comments from the public gallery’ rather than legitimate reporting. Public speaking time is a vital part of local democracy and should not be curtailed without careful consideration. We do realise you have a difficult job to do!

I would suggest the writer was at a real disadvantage sitting behind the speaker Mr Grant, From halfway between the Mayor and speaker podium, it was very clear to see Mr Grants repeatedly pointing at the Mayor and yelling hush, while the Mayor was speaking. It was only after the first three times that he was ejected for both this and his offensive comments during his three minute speaking time, including the racial taunts “I can’t understand you! I can’t understand you” after he was asked to leave. Quite sad that this is the only part of a busy meeting, with decisions that impact everyone living here, that was reported on.

Kia Ora Jackie, sometimes it’s best to think of the wider issues and consider why people are het up. And, with respect, we need to value public speaking time. It’s vital part of democracy. I p,an to write an artilce about this, speaking as an ex-councillor. Best wishes, Alan Tristram, Editor

I have to agree with the Editor; Mr Grant was impassioned and I believe said to the Mayor ‘hush’ very strongly – a verbal first warning would have been better. Also, I’m not aware of any schoolchildren being at the February meeting?

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