An abandoned city council meeting yesterday left scientific researchers without a forum to outline their ideas to reduce the environmental impact of Tauranga's sewage system.
The meeting failed to go ahead after not enough members arrived to make up numbers. The committee comprises four Tauranga city councillors and four iwi and hapu representatives.
The main item on the agenda of the wastewater management committee was to hear applications from four groups, including Papamoa sub-tribe Nga Potiki, on tapping into a special cash fund that is worth $250,000.
The money has been put aside by the council for projects that mitigate the adverse environmental effects of the city's sewerage system, including effects that offend Maori cultural and spiritual values.
Only four of the eight-member committee had shown up by the time the 10 minute deadline for the meeting to proceed was reached. Cr Rick Curach showed up a couple of minutes after the deadline but, by then, it was too late.
The immediate aftermath of the abandoned meeting saw chairman Murray Guy express frustration that he had not received advice that three members would be absent. Cr Curach, who would have brought the numbers up to the legal quorum of five members, did notify Mr Guy in advance that he would be late.
"It suggests we have participants that don't give the level of respect to these processes that they should. They should be more accountable."
It turned out that one of the missing members, Cr Bill Faulkner, was on leave of absence from council duties but this had not been communicated to Cr Guy who exclaimed soon after the meeting broke up: "We don't know where Bill is."
No apologies were received from the two iwi representatives including Carlton Bidois.
Mr Bidois told the Bay of Plenty Times that he did not receive the agenda to say the meeting was on, even though he sometimes did not receive agendas until very late because he was among the Te Puna people who opted to pick up their mail from the store rather than pay rural delivery charges.
He picked up his mail two days ago from the store, by which time the agendas would have been mailed out. He speculated that it may have been because 10 other people in his area had C Bidois as their initials.
"It is ironic that someone moans when I am absent because I am hardly ever absent from meetings. Most meetings I miss are because I don't receive the agendas on time."
Mr Bidois is on a number of groups and organisations linking iwi with Western Bay local authorities.
An attempt by the Bay of Plenty Times to contact the other missing iwi representative was unsuccessful.
Those who showed up on time yesterday were Cr Guy, Cr Bill Grainger, Matire Duncan (Nga Potiki) and Colin Reeder (Nga Potiki).
Nga Potiki's Tamapahore Trust was hoping to qualify for funding for its Te Tahuna o Rangataua research project.
Other applicants included Dr Michael Morris' project to research the relationship between sea lettuce and wastewater discharges into Rangataua Bay; and an Auckland University project to combine science and culture to mitigate the effects of sewage treatment on Tauranga Harbour.
No previous applicants have succeeded in obtaining funding since the committee was established nearly four years ago.
Yesterday's meeting will be rescheduled to a later date - probably next month.