Invitations concerns [ODT, 08/02/20]

Questions are being raised over who is considered “important” in the debate over Wanaka Airport development, and who is not.

Several groups have been told by senior MartinJenkins consultant Michelle Hancock they will be receiving invitations to focus groups.

They include the Luggate, Lake Hawea and Albert Town Community Associations who have been told: “Your group has been identified as important, and we would value your feedback and contribution to a focus group”.

Wanaka Stakeholders Group chairman Michael Ross said this week his group had received an invitation. The group is opposed to development of the airport for jet traffic.

It has more than 3000 members.

MartinJenkins has been employed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council to carry out economic and social impact assessments related to development of Wanaka Airport.

In her email, Ms Hancock said MartinJenkins would be “engaging with a wide range of individuals and groups”.

“We have worked with the QLDC to identify stakeholders representing different perspectives.”

While the Lake Hawea Community Association was due to get an invitation, chairwoman Cherilyn Walthew was concerned about a “lack of transparency”.

“Until we see the invite list … we don’t know who they are considering as key stakeholders.”

She was also wary of the process likely to be followed, expecting only one member of her association would be allowed to attend.

She also objected to the tone of the email in which it said the focus group sessions were “limited — please respond quickly to secure your place”.

“We are talking about major decisions that are going to shape this district and there’s just no time being left to actually really consult with people.”

MartinJenkins will also be carrying out interviews and an online survey “open to anyone who wishes to contribute”.

The council has been asked for a list of groups and individuals invited to take part in the focus groups.

Read this on the ODT website.

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