Waikato ratepayers are tapped for environmental project that made headlines when war broke out

January 22, 2015

Alf observes with some bemusement another cost heaped on residents of the Waikato.

They will be pouring more money into Maungataurari Ecological Island, described by the local newspaper as “”the jewel in the region’s environmental crown”.

But it is struggling financially and regional councillors have come to its assistance.

Not with their money, obviously. Nope. Ratepayers’ money.

Discussion on funding for the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust (MEIT) resumed yesterday at Waikato Regional Council talks on the 2015-2025 Draft Long Term Plan.

Debate raged over two days but councillors voted 9 to 5, to commit $300,000 each year to the wildlife refuge for three years.

New information delayed proceedings overnight and when the MEIT annual report was presented, it showed an organisation “living hand-to-mouth”.

Their financial report for the year ending June 2014 showed income was down more than $450,000 on the previous year. This was due in part to the Sirocco effect – the famed kakapo who enticed visitors through the gates to the value of $200,000.

There was a $123,000 cash surplus from operations and, in the annual report, accountant Graham Scott said MEIT was heavily reliant on regional and central government funding.

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