Who would have thought a bit of mud could cause such a ruckus?
In a council committee meeting on Thursday the $90,000 mud purchase from South Korea and the wider subject of the Mudtopia Festival were discussed in a robust debate.
The Rotorua Lakes Council is blaming what it calls negative media coverage for putting sponsorship of the December event at risk and for a new financial forecast suggesting it could lose around $575,000 in its first year.
That's not an outcome anyone wants, including the Rotorua Daily Post. This is our home too and we want what's best for Rotorua.
But not at the expense of the truth.
It is the role of the media to hold our elected officials to account and to keep local people informed on decisions being made.
A lot of the time those stories are positive. Sometimes, those stories may reflect less positively on the council or the city and yes, there may be financial or reputational implications.
But does that mean they shouldn't be reported? That would be a slippery, and dangerous slope.
The Rotorua Daily Post broke the news in New Zealand about the mud deal, after becoming aware of reports in South Korean media and putting urgent questions to the council.
Judging by the huge response on the street, on social media and through letters to the editor, we know Rotorua people care about this issue. We know they are glad we picked up on it, asked the questions and told them about it.
It's interesting to see negative media publicity being publicly blamed already for potential half-million dollar loss. Is it the coverage, or the $90k mud purchase itself, which has caused a backlash? You can decide that.
While we cannot speak for other media (it's been covered as far afield as the BBC in the UK), the Rotorua Daily Post stands by its overall coverage.
There had been some confusion over where the funding came from. It was reported as taxpayer money on the basis of what was said in a council meeting last week and repeated to us by councillor Trevor Maxwell. Mayor Steve Chadwick also originally told us it was "not council spending".
The council since advised that was an error and "the cost of purchasing and importing the Korean cosmetic mud powder is coming from the overall budget for the event - which includes funding from council, government, sponsorship and ticket sales - not specifically from the government funding". We put our hand up yesterday and admitted that error was inadvertently repeated.
But does this distinction in type of public spending make any material difference to this story overall? Not in my opinion.
The council has considered and rejected a motion to cancel the foreign mud purchase. So it's time to move forward and make Mudtopia the success we all want it to be.
But rest assured we will not stop asking the questions that matter to Rotorua. For that, for doing our job, we will not apologise.