Hamish McDouall says the almost $14,000 Whanganui District Council has spent livestreaming meetings is "the price an open democratic system".

And the Whanganui mayor doesn't think many would want to go back to the old way.

The council began livestreaming its full council meetings and major submission hearings in November 2016.

At the time McDouall said: "we hope this tool will get more people engaged with the democratic process and for those who would not normally attend a council meeting, it will provide a great insight".


In the almost two years since, 23 meetings have been broadcast at a cost to ratepayers of $13,251.

An average meeting gets about 2500 Facebook views but it is hard to know how many people are actually watching and for how long.

However, McDouall said anecdotal evidence suggested people were watching, even some from overseas.

"It's noticeable, particularly now that we've migrated to livestreaming it on Facebook, there is quite a bit of feedback occurring at the time," he said.

"A lot of people have told me they tune in either at the time or later in the evening."

McDouall also thought councillors' behaviour had been better too, knowing the world was watching.

"I think it's been good both for the community to see how decisions are made," he said.

"Even just as a passive observer. To me that's very precious.

"I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve democracy and the way we do things and I don't think many people would want to go back."

McDouall said costs has come down as the production became more efficient over time with now just two cameras and one director running the show.

"We've kind of got it pretty skinny."

McDouall said there was potential for the savings to open up more meetings to being filmed in the future.