One by one members of the public got up to have their say about the proposal to phase out the TECT cheques as the first day of verbal submissions got under way in central Tauranga.

There were 32 people expected to talk at yesterday's submission session at the Historic Village.

At one stage there were about 15 people sitting and listening to the submissions, which were being made to a table of TECT trustees including chairman Bill Holland.

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TECT general manager Wayne Werder was also in attendance.

The current TECT trustees want to phase out TECT cheques, starting with a one-off $2500 cheque this year plus five more annual cheques of $360 each.

The trustees have proposed putting all the annual returns from its Trustpower shares and other investments into the TECT Charitable Trust that was set up in 2002 to ensure the share of the money paid to community organisations was not taxed.

They say they are trying to future-proof the organisation in a climate of rapid technological and political change.

Several submitters said they thought it was important to discuss the issues and their thoughts in person, face to face rather than just words on a page.

People asked for more information and questioned what they said were gaps in reasoning.

One of those was Judge Paul Mabey QC who, like many submitters, wanted more answers than what had been provided so far.

He supported the status quo and was there to challenge the proposal.

Jo Mosley from Papamoa said whether or not the proposal was taken up, some of the money being talked about should go towards fixing the city's homeless issue.

With all this talk of change, she said, there was an opportunity to put in place something to address what was a growing concern.

Two of the other submitters, Andy Holroyd and Edward Goodwin, said they were also against the proposal.

While most of the meeting was relatively cordial, tempers did flare occasionally.

One man in the crowd talked over a submitter and the trustees at one point, shouting "you are robbers, you are thieves".

There were people who said they relied on the TECT cheque each year and there was plenty of passion displayed as questions and answers went back and forth between the trustees and the submitters.

Brian Walters, 81, sat near the front. He was just there to observe, he said.

"It certainly opened my eyes."

Walters, who lives in Papamoa, said most submitters during those four hours were challenging the proposal.

"It was a most intriguing discussion."

He has been a Trustpower customer since about 1989 and has been following the debate closely in the paper.

"I can't see why they want to alter a system which is in place and is good for the general public and the people that live on their own and look for something at Christmas time.

"If it's not broken, why fix it?"

Walters said a lot of the submitters wanted to know what started this off.

He said he would probably be at the meeting all day on Thursday to see who shows up and hear what they have to say. He had learnt a lot, he said.

The verbal submissions will run for two more days, with an additional day if needed.


Verbal submissions on TECT proposal
Where: Village Cinema, Historic Village
When: Today 9.30am-1.30pm, tomorrow 9am-5pm
Additional day if needed: March 12 (10am-4pm)