Behind closed doors at the airport – conflict of interest for WCC representative


Media release from Strathmore Park Progressive Association
Correspondence between Wellington International Airport Ltd and the city council’s former representative on the airport board, Ian McKinnon, cannot be released to the public.

An application under the Official Information and Meetings Act to the Wellington City Council was refused late last year, which led the Association to apply to the Office of the Ombudsman in a bid to make communications available.

This request was refused by the Ombudsman as

“WIAL’s constitution gives shareholders a right to appoint directors to WIAL. The council is a shareholder and has such a right. This right makes WIAL a “council organisation” but council organisations are not subject to an Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.”

“This situation is unjust” said Stan Andis – President of the Association. “The former city councillor clearly participated in the decision making process to approve the construction of barriers at the airport, but the current regime prevented him from reporting this highly contentious issue to the council.”

“It is difficult to comprehend how a city councillor paid by the ratepayer can participate in a process that demonstrates allegiance and loyalty solely to the company to which that person has been appointed by the council” Mr Andis said.

“The conflict of interest is untenable,” he said. “The absence of a transparent process prevents a report-back procedure from being on the council agenda”.

“Similar circumstances will apply with Mayor Celia Wade-Brown’s appointment as a Director.”

The $5.1 million Barrier system has almost been completed in a location that the general public used as a right of way as Stewart Duff Drive for many years.

The direct path between Moa Point and Broadway is now a car park labyrinth where the name of Stewart Duff, a former highly respected city councillor, is no longer worthy of the name it bears.



  1. Watcher, 15. December 2013, 10:49

    During the local body elections, two of the incumbent councillors for the Eastern Ward backed WAIL’s right to do what they liked – Ray Apihene-Mercer and Simon Marsh. Sarah Free said she was sure things would change – she was sure the Council had the power and the ability to do such things. Now we see WIAL give the bird to the WCC, and why Ian McKinnon was so silent all the time he was on the board.
    He wasn’t “bought”, he had no choice.

  2. Neil, 15. December 2013, 13:57

    At least we can be thankful that WTN airport isn’t quite the rort that CHC airport (75% council and 25% Central govt) has become – check the taxi rank fees there and the auctioning method that was used and you’ll realise that councils see commercial businesses they ‘own’ as a a cash cow to prop up their ever increasing salary bill and expenditure.

  3. CC, 15. December 2013, 20:13

    WAIL may have beaten Christchurch with its covert charging. Christchurch fares have increased to $8.00, which may be less than the $7.50 plus taxi company margins. However, this overlooks Combined in Wellington paying something like $3m for their premium rank position, a cost that is no doubt recovered by high airport related and across the board charging on all their fares throughout the city. Since WCC and Infratil are the primary beneficiaries, it may be decades before the city comes into the 20th (let alone 21st) century with quick efficient light rail transport between the airport and the CBD. Also, please note an earlier comment on this site that demonstrated that current bus fares to and from the CBD far exceed the per kilometre rate of NZ and international city fares.

  4. Neil, 16. December 2013, 19:30

    The Commerce Commission has been looking at airport charging and has recommended that airports make a return on their assets of 8%. Christchurch Airport, which is run as a commercial business unit of the City Council, makes 11-14%. This monopoly profit is then used to subsidise rates.

    Time to airport posterior Rebstock?

  5. Paul Franken, 17. December 2013, 8:47

    Yes, the WCC and the Wellington Airport are strange bedfellows.
    The large, over-illuminated sign at the Calabar Rd-Cobham Drive intersection had the prerequisite ‘that it only be used for airport directions and notices’ quietly deleted and now its sole purpose is to advertise cars – which are the competition of the airport!

    Not only is that contrary to the town plan, it is also distracting to motorists. Any fatality there should require the Airport Board to attend the funeral in shame.

  6. Chris, 17. December 2013, 15:28

    At WLG, taxis & shuttles pay and on-charge a significant fee downstairs for uplift; however no such fee applies for drop-off upstairs.

    Now the taxis & shuttles have been “split off” upstairs into a separate lane.

    I’ll wager that there will be an exit barrier arm installed at the end of that lane within 12 months, and we’ll be paying a $7 or $8 “Drop-off Fee”.

    I’ll bet it really rips WIAL’s undies that they are currently missing all that money of ours……

  7. Neil, 17. December 2013, 17:53

    Chris, that will put WIAL in a class of not many, because I don’t know of any airport that charges a ‘rank’ fee to drop people off. In Auckland, some taxi companies can’t pick up because they can’t afford the rank rental + per pick up rank charge.


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