For Wairoa District Council to do "the best job" for its constituents, sometimes information needs to temporarily be kept from them.

Around 76 per cent of the meetings held by Wairoa District Council over the past three years have had publicly excluded sections.

Although the council also holds forums, information on these is not publicly available.

However, of the 46 council, or extraordinary council meetings held since February 2014, the public has been excluded from 35 of these.


Wairoa mayor Craig Little said publicly excluded meetings had merit.

"Some public probably think they should know everything, and it's their right because they're ratepayers, but if they want the council to do the best job for them there's times we've got to swear ourselves to secrecy on some matters," he said.

Every meeting council had the option to decide to exclude the public, which was often used when sensitive matters were on the table.

This could range from discussing the chief executive's appraisal, a future contract, or a staff issue.

"[We could be] trying to acquire some land, and we're working out a price and if it went out to public straight away, well we might end up paying five times as much," he said.

"If we've got someone really keen to come to Wairoa, a business of some significance, but we don't want the rest of Hawke's Bay, Poverty Bay, or any of our neighbours knowing about it, we're not going to blurt it out in public included.

"We'll talk about it in publicly excluded because ... some things you've got to be a bit smart on."

Of the 12 meetings held this year, the public have been excluded from nine. While a new report was brought to some meetings, the majority were exclusive so council could discuss the confidential minutes of the previous meeting.


"There are times a lot of people say we shouldn't go to public excluded, well I'm afraid they don't know what they're talking about. There's times when because of ... confidentiality and affecting people's private lives we have to," he said.

However, "the trick", which the council had done previously, was to reflect on publicly excluded meetings later and release what was no longer confidential, he said.

Information classed as needing public exclusion had also been released.

"We have seven of us sitting around that table and we make that decision. Obviously if the majority wants it public, and publicly released, it will be released."