Minutes for Gisborne District Council workshops, which are effectively held in secret, are not as readily available as indicated by the mayor.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier last month released findings of an investigation into eight councils where he tested concerns workshops and informal meetings were being used to make decisions.
While he found no evidence this was happening, Boshier discovered councils were being unreasonable in effectively closing workshops by default.
At Gisborne District Council - which was not part of the investigation - workshops were technically "open" but not advertised, a practice Boshier was critical of in his report.
Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz said in a statement following the report that the council would consider a more transparent way of advising the public about workshops.
She reiterated no decisions were made behind closed doors, and said minutes were available when requested.
"No decision-making takes place at workshops. All decision-making is delivered during meetings of council committees that are publicly live-streamed," Stoltz said.
"In some cases, workshops can contain discussion that's commercially sensitive and required to be public excluded. However, as necessary, minutes or notes taken are publicly available on request."
Local Democracy Reporting requested minutes for the 18 unadvertised workshops which have been held in the current term since October 2022.
The council provided minutes for one workshop, A Just Transition for Tairāwhiti, which was attended by the Ministry Business Innovation and Employment on 28 June.
Minutes were refused for four workshops for a variety of reasons, including allowing the council to carry out commercial activities without prejudice or advantage, potential damage to public interest and the protection of parties from pressure or harassment.
It conceded it had not taken minutes for four workshops which were facilitated by PwC.
For the nine remaining workshops, minutes or information was now publicly available, or would become so as part of future public consultations.
The council is considering putting its workshop times and agendas on its website to increase transparency.
Although workshops had not been advertised in the past, groups and community members with vested interests had at times been involved, the council said.
The eight councils investigated by the Chief Ombudsman were Rotorua Lakes Council, Taupō District Council, Palmerston North City Council, Taranaki Regional Council, Rangitīkei District Council, Waimakariri District Council, Timaru District Council and Clutha District Council.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air