Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

What council staff put on plastic

Hawaiian fire dancers and leather iPad case among items charged.

A Hawaiian fire dance performance was one of the items Auckland ratepayers have helped pay for on Auckland Council credit cards.
A Hawaiian fire dance performance was one of the items Auckland ratepayers have helped pay for on Auckland Council credit cards.

A Hawaiian fire dancer performance at the Rugby World Cup and a leather iPad case are among the items Auckland Council and council body executives have put on their ratepayer-funded credit cards.

Credit cards came in handy during the Rugby World Cup to meet the $8780 travel costs for four Hawaiian dancers and the $13,264 accommodation costs of four crowd management experts from Australia to ensure safety during the event, according to figures obtained by the Herald under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

During chaotic scenes on the Auckland waterfront for the opening night celebrations, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) communications and marketing manager Clyde Rogers went to Fix on Quay St and spent $523.52 on "extra top-up drinks" for a staff function.

Other World Cup credit card expenses by Mr Rogers included $164 on branded shirts for communications staff working in the media lounge at the Cloud and $117.21 on software for a cup marketing project.

Ateed events manager Rachael Dacy, who put the Hawaiian dancers on her credit card to perform on the Fan Trail, also bought $1268 of cup merchandise for council chief finance officer Andrew McKenzie to distribute during a business trip to Europe.

Mr McKenzie went on three trips to the finance capitals of the world in the past financial year, using his council credit card to run up an accommodation tab of $7048.25 for 13 nights away.

Before leaving in August last year on a trip to Washington and New York, Mr McKenzie bought a leather iPad case at Auckland Airport.

Mr McKenzie's credit card spending also included $532 for drinks and canapes at Euro Bar after a finance workshop and getting a Corporate Cab into work after a 3am finish on the council budget.

The figures show that many executives from the Auckland Council and seven council-controlled organisations do not have or did not use a credit card in the past year. They include Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay, Watercare chief executive Mark Ford and Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell. Mr Ford said he paid for expenses himself and put in claims for approval by board chairman Ross Keenan.

Auckland Transport provided figures showing chief executive David Warburton and three executives spent $15,619 on credit cards in the past financial year, but did not provide a description of the expenses, except under broad headings such as travel and accommodation and hospitality. The council body did not respond to Herald requests for details.

- NZ Herald

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