Councillor Kirsten Wise's recent Talking Point expressing her deep regret at the events of the past two years has some eye-opening features.

In a piece that's around 770 words, the phrase "We were told" / "We were not told" appears eight times.


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It would appear from Councillor Wise's account that Napier's elected officials (and the city's ratepayers) have been misled and misinformed for at least two years on the War Memorial issue.

It also reveals that, apparently, Napier's elected officials aren't too big on going out amongst those that voted them in and gathering opinion and facts before voting on things they themselves admit:

"At the time we voted to rename our War Memorial Centre we truly did not understand the legal and, more importantly, the moral obligation we had to our community."

That's just… "Wow"…

I still can't get past how the words "War Memorial" did not raise some red flags amongst councillors.

I won't accept the "We didn't know the significance" defence from a first term councillor and I certainly won't accept it from councillors who have been in their positions for 12-18 years.

And yet they voted unanimously (and apparently without question) in favour of the War Memorial Name, Eternal Flame and Roll of Honour's removal.

Their vote was, instead "made in good faith by all councillors based on the information presented to us at the time".


And it's only now, two years after the war memorial vote that this came to light, on the same day that NCC voted on whether to return the War Memorial name to all or part of its site.

Wrongs need to be righted, but excuses still cannot wash.

It does go some way to corroborate something I have written about several times over the years – that Napier's elected leaders appear to have been led astray by council management for some time.

Were they truly representative of their constituents we would have heard differing opinions to council management's press releases cut and pasted throughout local media.

After controversially renewing their support for Napier City Council's CEO last year, do they still have confidence in his, and his management team's, performance?

How can they now?

It states, after all, on the council website that the role of the chief executive (and his management team) is advising the mayor and council on policy matters.

Does the revelation that the elected council may not have been given (or sought out) all the required and accurate information give the likes of Napier Skating Club democratic, or legal recourse in how they were treated when their SkateZone home of 60 years was demolished in favour of a council-run facility, concrete walkways and water features?

While Councillor Wise doesn't specifically name names in her criticism – that could arguably breach Napier City Council's contentious "gagging" "Elected Members' Code of Conduct", it is rather clear who four "suggestion/s by some" refer to, given another recent article on the supposed "confusion" and "loss of income" reinstating the War Memorial title and elements would have on the desecrated site.

If there is certainly cause for concern at the level of trust or confidence that Napier's elected councillors can now have in their management, then can they have the same level of concern, if not more, at apparent "alternative facts" being suggested by their mayor?

I can tell you from actually taking notice, reading and listening to reactions to this whole sorry saga that Napier's public and ratepayers have very little confidence in those currently elected and employed to manage their city.

I would like to have hoped the War Memorial regaining its original and proper name went at least some way to rectifying two years' worth of council wrongs.

But just as ratepayers were celebrating their voice being heard, we read that the return of another historic and publicly backed facility - a 50m "Olympic" pool at the Onekawa Aquatic Centre - something NCC canvassed and the public's strong support for was widely publicised just last year has disappeared off the council's latest Long Term Plan preferred options.

In its place, a pool half the size, somewhere else, apparently conceived not by the public, but by a small group of council management is what Napier ratepayers will get to "have their say" on.

Here we go again.

The repercussions of this whole sorry saga appear much longer-lasting and wider-ranging.

The next local body election vote is, after all, due late next year.

Lest we (and they) forget. Napier deserves better!

* Andrew Frame is a Napier based commentator on local issues. More of his views and opinions can be read at