Tauranga City Council will achieve a new technological milestone tomorrow as it live-streams a council meeting for the first time.
The council is trialling live-streaming, technology already used by several other councils around New Zealand including Auckland, Gisborne and Rotorua's councils.
The council currently audio records meetings and posts them online.
The live-stream will initially be posted to the council's website and would be archived on its YouTube channel.
The live feed would be on a 10-second delay that could be stopped in the event of an incident in chambers. It would also be turned off when the council went into a public-excluded session.
The video would show a static view of councillors and speakers. The camera angles would avoid filming the public gallery whenever possible.
The Community and Culture Committee meeting at 9am tomorrow will be the first to be live-streamed.
Committee chairman councillor Terry Molloy said the feature would be good for democracy.
"It's an excellent move that enables the community to monitor the council."
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said although it won't be a "Hollywood production", it would help make the council more accessible - but he did have his doubts about how many people would watch.
Jacinda Lean, a general manager at Tauranga City who has led the implementation of the technology, said the council hoped to improve it over time, including by making any PowerPoint slides councillors were viewing visible in the live-stream.
Leaders of ratepayer groups the Bay of Plenty Times spoke to yesterday also doubted it would rack up big viewing numbers.
Pāpāmoa Residents and Ratepayers Association committee member John Middleton said it was a great idea nonetheless.
"We'll then find out who's supporting what, why and the debate that goes around it," he said.
Matapihi Ratepayers Association chairman Greg Milne said it was a positive move but he wondered if the benefits would be worth the expense.
"It seems like a 'nice-to-have'. I'd be interested in the cost to ratepayers."
Mātua Residents Association chairman Richard Kluit said it was a sign of the times and would make staying in the loop more convenient.
Gisborne District Council Mayor Meng Foon said the council had been streaming "99 per cent" of its meetings for around a year and the filming had been "fully embraced".
Residents appreciated the transparency and have a greater understanding of what happens in the council, he said.
Viewership was not always high but the record number of people to tune in was around 1000. Some viewers even lobbied council members via text message during a meeting, he said.
He said councillors were also better behaved in chambers since they were subject to public scrutiny.
Meetings to be video-recorded:
• Audit, Finance, Risk and Monitoring Committee
• City Transformation Committee
• Community and Culture Committee
• Economic Development and Investment Committee
• Environment Committee
• Transport Committee
Tauranga City Council YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCde4c26jlE60fWGoNMEOzDQ
Source: Tauranga City Council