24 May 2007

Cooks trip criticised by Manukau councillor

5:46 pm on 24 May 2007

A New Zealand councillor says he voted against funding flights for the Manukau Mayor and his partner to fly to Rarotonga where he will address the Cook Islands cabinet on infrastructure.

The Cook Islands government invited mayor Sir Barry Curtis to talk about how to use development contributions as a funding tool to help get roads, water supply, sewerage reticulation and other growth-related infrastructure built and maintained.

All costs of the mayoral visit will be met by the Cook Islands government except the air fare of two thousand dollars which will be paid for by Manukau ratepayers.

The Cook Islands population in Manukau is 20 thousand compared with about 18 thousand in their Pacific homeland.

But Councillor Dick Quax says it is not the role of local government to give aid to other countries unless there is evidence it will benefit Manukau's Cook Islanders.

"When I asked the council officers what work had been done to show what benefit there was to the Cook Island community in Manukau by providing this aid, I was told no work had been done. So in other words it was a donation without any work having been done around why it had been given."

Councillor Dick Quax