A bit more spit and polish may soon be the order of the day for Masterton District Council meetings if councillors vote tomorrow to adopt a higher public profile.

A decision is to be made on whether council meetings are sound recorded with or without a video camera capturing the action, for feeding on to the council website, or whether things should stay as they are.

The idea to upmarket its website presentation came from a staff submission two years ago which called for the installation of a sound system in the council chamber to help people hear each other and to make it easier to keep a record of business at meetings.

It was turned away at that time as it was going to cost $23,000 and a further suggestion - to have Arrow FM broadcast meetings - likewise did not go ahead.


Tomorrow the matter comes to the table again with councillors faced with three outcomes.

The first option is to leave things as they are with minutes and agendas available on the website and a summary of the business of a council meeting posted within a few days of the meeting. Or they can vote to put microphones either in front of each councillor, or have microphones under the control of the mayor who would switch on the relevant microphone to enable a councillor to speak, and therefore live stream a sound recording of the meeting.

The third option is to go all out on sound and visual.

The last named option could follow in the footsteps of Taupo District Council by having a static visual of councillors seated in a U shape or to adopt a more in-your-face approach like Hamilton City Council having councillors seated in a U shape but with a camera shifting focus and zooming in on the councillor speaking.

Departing from the status quo would mean council would have to include funding of up to $35,000 in its Draft Annual Plan for equipment and management of live streaming all meetings either as audio only or with visuals.

On-going costs for recording and live streaming full council meetings only would be around $9000 a year.

The nub of the debate could hinge on figures from Hamilton and Taupo.

Hamilton, with a population of 140,000, has only 30 to 75 viewers for most council meetings and Taupo claims between 10 and 50 viewers for meetings.


In October Wellington City Council spent $5000 on a live broadcast of its inauguration ceremony for the newly elected council and was toying with the idea of live streaming all its full council meetings.

One of three recommendations to tomorrow's meeting is for councillors to "survey the level of interest" in viewing council meetings on the website in its Community Satisfaction Survey.