Queenstown’s council boss Adam Feeley will curb future related-party recruitment after discovering inter-family employment.
Mountain Scene can reveal the wife, daughter and son-in-law of council campground chief Greg Hartshorne work at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park.
Hartshorne – who oversees the council’s five motor parks – confirmed the family staffers last week, adding: “You need to get the full story before you start writing this one – otherwise it might get a bit nasty.”
Hartshorne’s wife Miles worked at Arrowtown’s park before they married, the campground chief says.
When she resigned to work elsewhere in 2010, Hartshorne says, he was “authorised to go and bring her back because of the skills we lost when she left”.
Miles is now marketing and training manager and runs online bookings.
The Hartshornes each have 23-year-old daughters from previous marriages – Emily stopped working at the park last year after almost two years, while Krystel started last November for 20 hours a week on the front desk.
Krystel’s husband Charles, 27, has also been working on the front desk for a year, Hartshorne says.
Feeley doesn’t blame Hartshorne, saying the decisions to allow family hires weren’t made by Hartshorne – and the situation with his wife is understandable as it’s a “live-in job. You’ve got to be there 24 hours a day”.
Hartshorne also stresses he’s the overall boss of the parks and family members don’t report to him: “My wife answers directly to the assistant manager of the holiday park and her reviews and everything are done in-house at the council.”
However, Hartshorne confirms he “most probably” suggested to son-in-law Charles that he should apply for a motor park job.
“Charles came down [to Queenstown] and was working in IT and the IT side of it went very quiet – we were looking for staff and I told him to go and see the assistant manager,” Hartshorne says.
The campground boss denies any conflict of interest over family members’ employment: “Absolutely none at all.”
Hartshorne’s never hidden their employment and “everyone at council knows”, Hartshorne maintains.
Despite misgivings over related-party recruitment, council boss Feeley doesn’t blame Hartshorne for the family hirings: “I’ve no concerns about the integrity of that decision-making process. People other than Greg made the decision but whether it’s best practice I’m not convinced, and we’re reviewing it plus other campground things”.
The best person may be hired “but if it’s family members it can lead to the impression of some kind of favouritism”, he says.
There won’t be blanket bans on family hires at council or its business units, Feeley says – however “it would be the exception rather than the rule”.
“It comes back to perception.We’re accountable to the public and we’ve got to be pretty squeaky clean with our recruitment processes.”
As it stands, the council is reviewing its involvement in all campgrounds – a detailed report on the future scale of campground management is due by June 30.