Waikato councillors new to local government or just preparing for another three years are getting up to speed by having briefings, lunching together, going on retreats or taking bus rides around their towns or city.

The region's councils have taken different approaches on how to prepare for the next term with some paying thousands of dollars to stay over in Mt Maunganui or at a hot springs while others gather in council offices to keep costs down.

Waikato Regional Council spent two days at Podium Lodge in Cambridge, just 18km from its head office in Hamilton East, costing a total of $22,122.

While the accommodation was only $2545 for the 10 councillors who stayed, the cost of getting in consultants who had been working with council on key council activities, governance and the state of the Waikato was $16,209.


A further $3368.70 was spent on food, including a dinner out at Good Union in Cambridge.

Staying overnight enabled councillors to finish late and start earlier. It was also safer and more efficient for councillors who lived at least two hours away, a council spokeswoman said.

Waipa District Council's bill was also on the higher end, with the two-day getaway costing $13,521.

Waipa District Council group manager of strategy and community services Debbie Lascelles said the Out in the Styx guest house was chosen because its location was at the foot of major Waipa projects. It also had limited cell phone coverage which meant councillors could focus on the talks without disruption.

Like the regional council, the biggest cost was an external facilitator who led the induction programme from a strategic perspective.

Lascelles said engaging a facilitator who is an expert in their field with significant local government experience was money well spent as it provided an efficient download of information to councillors.

South Waikato District councillors have been on one of several planned bus tours around the district at a cost of $560 for the bus hire and $259.13 for lunch.

Its elected members and executive team will soon be heading to a two-day getaway at Wairakei Resort for a two-day strategic planning and information-sharing session. Accommodation, venue hire, lunches and refreshment breaks will cost $6217. The cost of breakfasts and dinners are unknown at this stage.

Hauraki District Council's induction programme includes Local Government NZ training sessions, internal workshops on rating, finance and depreciation, one-on-one training with portfolio holders and an off-site learning retreat at Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel in Tirau.


Hauraki District Council senior communications adviser Paula Trubshaw said the $11,754.62 retreat was aimed at providing an "immersive experience away from daily distractions where participants are sleeping, eating and learning alongside one another".

While Matamata-Piako councillors and five staff members were whisked away to Mt Maunganui for the night at a cost of $7091.70. The location was chosen due to its close proximity and convenient conference facility, a spokeswoman said.

Hamilton City Council's inductions have cost $5509.11 with the majority of the cost made up of a two-day offsite training at a cost of $3717.13 for venue hire, catering and external presenters.

Hamilton City Council governance lead Becca Brooke said they had to hire Panama House for the second day because council's other venues were already booked.

The council also hired a bus for a day so council's senior leaders could brief them on projects and infrastructure while they travelled around the city. The $811.90 included bus hire, catering, water and snacks.

"It (bus trip) was also an opportunity for elected members to get to know each other and form as a team," Brooke said.

Meanwhile Waikato and Thames district councils were the most frugal and kept their inductions in-house.


Thames District Council's training was held in the council's chambers, with the only cost to ratepayers $1200 for catered lunch for the two days.

About 12 council staff attended either giving presentations or providing governance support to the councillors and community board members.

Waikato District Council held its induction programme at its Ngaruawahia headquarters and councillors used their own cars for any offsite visits. The seven working lunches and one morning tea was $2190.

Waikato District Council marketing and communications manager Jacob Quinn said he believed conducting the training in-house helped keep costs modest.

Over the coming months the council would be visiting a marae and at an expected cost of $2000 and going on a couple of district bus tours estimated to cost a further $2500.

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