Parting Shot: Off to see the blunderful Wizard of ORC


You know the story. After following the yellow brick road, Dorothy and friends confront the great Oz - only to find he’s some ordinary bloke.

The classic line “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” has been grabbed by film-lovers and life coaches alike.

Queenstown’s got a yellow-brick road. In the 1860s people clambered over each other to stake a claim to gold discovered in these here parts.

Now it’s tourism that brings in the almighty dollar. Like Dorothy, who so wished to see the world, people flock here from all over to gaze in awe at our mountains and lakes - or pay homage to the great god Sir Peter Jackson.

Noisy jets rake the sky, bringing thousands upon thousands of tourists to spend their superior currency.

At first it seems like a grand adventure.

But there’s a terrible storm for the people who live here.

Tornado-force financial winds have lifted our house prices up, up, up.

Then the Wicked Witch weaves her spell, grinding traffic to a halt and inflicting wallet-paralysing charges for water and sewerage.

We must find the great Wizard of the Wakatipu to sort our problems!

Considering the money they funnel from Queenstown, ratepayers might turn to the Otago Regional Council.

What does the council actually do?

Reading its annual report I have an idea of what it stands for - pretty much clean air, clean water, efficient public transport and vanquishing pests. It also writes high-level plans and processes consents.

But the council’s fingerprints in Queenstown are barely visible. There are water and air monitoring stations, sure, but it contributes next to nothing for public transport (submissions on an online transport survey close on December 14).

And it’s pretty feeble at achieving some targets.

Its air quality target is only one breach of the national standards per winter. Yet Arrowtown, alone, had 48 breaches in 2014.

Compliance with rabbit targets are just 42 per cent. It took a spray from Conservation Minister Maggie Barry to guilt the council into even considering chipping in for expensive wilding tree control.

Its response? It has put up a webpage and launched a limp online survey, in the hope no one notices.

It has also just jettisoned responsibility for navigation safety on Lake Wakatipu.

Plenty have questioned the council’s commitment to the Wakatipu in the past - but at least it maintained an office in Queenstown.

Well, it did until Monday, when it shut its doors “while we review options for the future provision of services in Queenstown Lakes district”.

Too right the regional council should review services in Queenstown.

It’s an appalling decision to cut the town’s meagre services.

Given the millions of dollars the council rakes in from resort ratepayers it needs to spend a great deal more.

The rateable value of property in this district is set to overtake Dunedin - yet the council has a huge office in the southern city, subsidises its public transport and sends wads of cash to Dunedin’s rescue chopper.

The Emerald City is very shiny indeed - thanks to us.

Well, the jig is up. Behind the curtain, as it were, is the Wizard of ORC, boss Peter Bodeker - who made $273,505 last year, along with 27 other bosses earning more than $100,000.

On Tuesday I asked Bodeker to say how much his council raids from the Wakatipu Basin and how much it spends here.

By deadline I hadn’t heard back. Perhaps you’d like to try? Email him at: - you could even use this subject line: The man behind the curtain.