WSG writes to MartinJenkins about concerns around airport expansion consultation [WSG, 24/02/20]

This afternoon, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated wrote to the lead consultant of MartinJenkins to raise additional and serious concerns about the online survey which they are running for QLDC, including security issues.

We reproduce the letter in full below. If you agree with what’s written below and are currently not a member of Wanaka Stakeholders Group, please sign up. Our membership is growing by the hour, and is a clear sign that the people of Upper Clutha are seeking transparency, real consultation and a positive future for our community.

Wanaka is better than this. Our elected representatives should not allow this. We should not be funding this.

[Letter on Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc letterhead, sent at approx. 2:45 pm today]

Jason Leung-Wai

Principal Consultant


PO Box 5256

Wellington 6011

(By email:

Monday 24th February 2020

Dear Jason

Future Wanaka Airport Development – economic and social impact assessments for QLDC

Further to our letter of Monday 10th February 2020, attached, we are writing to you about the consultation elements of the two impact assessments you are currently working on.

You will know from our attendance at the focus group meeting last week that we, along with the five community associations which attended the same session, and as we understand it other groups in both Wanaka and Queenstown, are very concerned at the design and implementation of this research.

All of the concerns outlined in our previous letter remain unchanged and unresolved.  Our position is unchanged. In fact, since our letter a fortnight ago there has been significant concern from members of the Upper Clutha community about the online survey which recently launched.  Despite this, we have encouraged our members to do the survey.  

Issues include but are certainly not limited to the following:

  1. There is no unique identifier for those taking the survey.  This is usually an email address. So there is a real possibility that individuals or organisations can answer multiple times, and that results can be “gamed”.  To be clear, WSG would not condone such behaviour.
    • Via our question to QLDC you have answered that “multiple entries” can be detected by IP addresses and “several other ways”.  What are those several other ways? Please be specific.  
    • For the record, the IP address answer is not acceptable.  First, many people can have the same IP address. Secondly, it’s easy to use multiple IP addresses if you really want to.  It is well accepted within the field of online surveys that email addresses are the best unique identifier there is. These are serious flaws in what is supposed to be “wide ranging community consultation” as part of your reports.
  2. As you know, your survey is being flagged by anti-virus protection giant Norton Antivirus as “a known dangerous web page. It is highly recommended that you do NOT visit this page”.  Some people are not answering for this reason.
  3. Our members and others in the community are finding the questions ambiguous and/or vague.  Some have felt the need to go back and change their answers. Others have said that they are unable to provide a clear answer because the questions are not clear.  There is genuine confusion and deep frustration. We know that some members of the community have emailed you directly about this.
  4. Many of our members have said that they find the questions loaded or misleading.
  5. The scenario of introducing just ATRs/turbo-props into Wanaka Airport is not even offered.  And yet this was one scenario which got significant support in our forum. The forums were – we were advised – to inform and refine the online questionnaire. We know, you know, and the council knows that this is one option that many people in the Upper Clutha have voiced support for very clearly indeed.
  6. The scenarios do not include deep enough information about each scenario, so that people can truly provide in indication of their views.  Good consultation practice includes a requirement to give the participant relevant information.

Jason, these are just a few of the key concerns after only a few days of the survey being online.  There will no doubt be more. Our view is that this online survey does not meet even entry level best practice  standards for a consultative exercise of this importance. Trust in the process is very, very low. As residents of QLDC we are deeply concerned that this expensive process will turn out to be a waste of ratepayers’ money.

Yours sincerely

Michael Ross, Chair

The Committee, Wānaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated*

CC List:

  • Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc. members
  • Chairs of four local Residents Associations (Hawea, Luggate, Albert Town, Luggate)
  • Wanaka Community Board Members
  • All QLDC Councillors, Mayor and CEO
  • We Love Wakatipu (Protect Queenstown) Committee
  • WSG legal team

* WSG membership as at 12:30 Monday 24th February 2020 stands at 3,327 people.

The letter also contained a copy of our previous letter which you can find here.

Join the Wanaka Stakeholder Group Inc. for free here

Encourage others to with this post.

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