Ophelia Buckleton is a reporter for the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Campground manager resigns after free accommodation for booze offer

The Matamata Aerodrome Campground, which has closed while an investigation into the alleged inappropriate behaviour of its manager is carried out. Photo / Supplied via Facebook
The Matamata Aerodrome Campground, which has closed while an investigation into the alleged inappropriate behaviour of its manager is carried out. Photo / Supplied via Facebook

A campground manager facing misconduct allegations has resigned.

The Matamata Aerodrome campsite has been closed to the public during the start of the peak summer season as Matamata-Piako District Council officials carry out an investigation into fresh claims of misconduct against manager Bevan Haimona at the council-run site.

The claims were made by a female backpacker who had stayed at the camp for two months.

She laid the complaint against the former manager after she left the camp.

The complaint - described by mayor Jan Barnes as a "very serious matter" - comes six months after an earlier investigation was launched into social media posts from Haimona offering guest a free stay if they brought a "bottle of bubbly" or were prepared to "get drunk".

In response to a request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) about the initial investigation into the social media posts, a council spokeswoman said he has since resigned.

"I also advise that the staff member has resigned due to a conflict of interest between his private interest and his council role," the spokeswoman said.

She said the investigation found the former manager breached the council's social media policy.

"A reprimand was issued for breach of Council's Social Media Policy [by commenting on Facebook as a representative of Council - when referring to the Matamata Aerodrome and campsite and the inappropriateness of some of the employee's comments]."

The council was also investigating "further potential breaches" of council policy made by Haimona in his capacity as campground manager.

Haimona said previously that the accommodation offers were to stay at his home - not at the council-owned camping ground - calling it "just Kiwi hospitality".

Posts he made on a backpacking Facebook site included: "Just putting it out there if any backpackers need sum where FREE YES FREE to stay this Friday pm me. I live on the Matamata aerodrome i Manage the Matamata aerodrome campsite. All I ask in return is that u have drinks with me and get drunk lol [sic]."

The campground has been closed to the public during the peak summer holiday season while council officials investigate the latest complaint.

A date to reopen the camp has not been set.

Matamata in rural Waikato is home to the Hobbiton movie set, which draws thousands of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fans to the region every year.

Earlier this month, Barnes said that she was concerned about the fresh allegations about the then-camp manager.

"I take this as a very serious matter.

"It's an employment issue, and we're under way with dealing with the complaint.

"We are very concerned."

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 29 May 2017 16:40:53 Processing Time: 651ms