A plea to "exorcise" a taniwha in someone's living room, the weather forecast and seeking information about a Coronation Street character are among requests made to Auckland Council's 24/7 contact centre.

Council staff received thousands of calls from rate-payers during the year. The hotline is set up to handle dog attacks, rubbish fires and incidents which could cause the immediate risk to the safety of people or property.

But while the nature of some of the calls received this may have seemed serious to the callers who made them, it's fair to say no amount of training could have prepared versatile call-takers for adequate responses.

Logs provided to the Herald on Sunday highlight some of the off-the-wall requests, including a revelation from one call-taker saying: "I had a customer call up to say they had a taniwha in their living room and they wanted council to get a kaumātua to remove it/exorcise it."


Another wasn't satisfied with their response for a weather forecast.

When told the MetService was forecasting rain, the caller responded: "When is it stopping? It's not even winter yet, why do we have all this rain?"

When told that the call-taker couldn't help with that request, the curt response was: "Well put me on to someone who can!"

One ratepayer asked for advice on the cheapest place to buy cat traps, while another, when asked if there was anything else they needed, responded: "Can you also cut my lawn please?"

Two calls provided some comic relief for call-takers.

One elderly man contacted the hotline to ask about a character on Coronation Street.

"I said I don't watch the show but know it. He continued to ask me if I knew of the character that worked for another character on the show, Mike Baldwin, and did I know what his name was? He just wanted to know as he was talking to someone about it and couldn't remember the person's name."

"A very elderly gentleman called and asked for the difference in the meanings of two words that he is looking at in his dictionary," a call-taker said.

"I politely advised him that I couldn't answer that question as I am just a customer service person at this call centre."

The caller said: "My librarian always answers my questions, Miss. Put me through to the librarian at Takapuna library, please."

The caller then hung up when he was put on hold as the call centre worker contacted the library.

Due to privacy issues, council wasn't able to release audio of the calls.

An Auckland Council spokeswoman said while the "bulk" of calls to enquiries to its hotlene were "generally serious in nature, requiring urgent council attention and follow up, however, there are occasions when the calls do take on a more humorous tone."