Public Kept in Dark: Board Slides More Money  to “Weeding” / Conflicted trusts .


In a late addition to the Boards Nov 12 Agenda, Waitakere Ranges Local  board has allocated another $104k  to weeding and  Ecomatters Trust, with which it has significant  conflict of interest,  for another door to door knocking campaign and weeding.  The details of the private properties receiving assistance were  closed to the public.  This is a follow on project from an earlier $46,000 delivered by  Weedfree and Ecomatters Trusts engaging with the public and weed control on 24 private properties.

$150k is more than a few plants and a weedbag.

It’s an ongoing issue as the Boards other  weeding expenditure –  “Sustainable Neighbourhoods”,  was primarily $45,000  per annum divided between 10 chosen groups.  It was not a fund advertised on Neil Henderson’s Weedfree Trust website (which has now been taken down), nor Gecko Ltd (which is owned by a council staff member) .   .The new sustainable neighbourhoods website suggests that those 10 groups  are almost all in a single neighbourhood in Titirangi .  A planned review of the weeding programme was not completed as it showed only 6% of the groups were judged to be capable of operating independently.

Were the grants allocated in a fair and open contest, if so how do we apply because if Oratia had $45,000 cash a year we could have a full time paid Oratia caretaker mowing our berms and pulling weeds.   Compared to other funding $45,000 a year for one neighbourhood is a lot of money.  Why do we even need Weedfree trust and Ecomatters doorknocking prior to elections and clipping the ticket.  Why can’t the public apply for the funding directly and  transparently and pay  their own local weed warriors?  If you live in Oratia and  you’ve spent a day in the garden weeding you would also have been paying for weeding contractors to do the spraying across town on someone elses property .

The crux of the issue is there is increasing funding to trusts with which the board has  conflict of interests, with no transparency and the activities include propaganda via door knocking and “educating” the public .

Ecomatters Trust and partner Weedfree Trust, have multiple conflicts of interest including:

Board Member –  Denise Yates Trustee at Ecomatters lives in Huia

Board Member  – Neil Henderson who is the Spokesperson and Project Manager at Weedfree Trust

Board Chair, Sandra Coney lives in Piha.

(Last Year Ecomatters Trust had revenue of $1.3 million and Weedfree Trust $265,000.  The salary line at Weedfree Trust was $137,600 .)

Full details of Trusts accounts can be found here.

Author – Opinion: Penny Sparks