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  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the detention and treatment of prisoners

    Systemic investigations
    Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, it is a function of the Ombudsmen to investigate complaints relating to matters of administration affecting persons in their personal capacity against various bodies, including the Department of Corrections (the Department). Pursuant to this Act, the Ombudsmen have power to investigate complaints by prisoners about all aspects of their detention by the Department. At the end of 2004 serious issues related to the treatment of prisoners came to public attention.
  • Request for father’s immigration file

    Case notes
    Private interests gave rise to a public interest—pursuing legal rights and remedies
  • Request for details of risk management processes

    Case notes
    Request for details of risk management processes—relevant documents provided apart from the ‘risk register’—register consisted of free and frank expressions of opinion—release might undermine risk management strategy—public interest met by release of Risk Management Policy
  • Request for a letter of resignation of senior manager

    Case notes
    Request for letter of resignation of senior manager—information withheld to protect privacy—public interest considerations
  • Request by non-custodial parent for child’s prize-giving result

    Case notes
    Request by non-custodial parent for child’s prize-giving result—child requested results be withheld because of use made by parent of other information—meaning of ‘endanger the safety’ of a person—discussion of ‘necessary’ test—no grounds to withhold
  • Request for a staff member’s salary from educational institution

    Case notes
    Request to University for information as to whether staff member was in receipt of a salary and if so the nature of her duties—information withheld to protect privacy—public interest considerations
  • Request for information about appointments to Fire Service Commission

    Case notes
    Request for information about appointments to the Fire Service Commission—two letters withheld—contents raised privacy and confidentiality issues—good reason to withhold
  • Request by son for access to mother’s child welfare file

    Case notes
    Request by adult son for access to natural mother’s child welfare file—son placed for adoption—natural mother now deceased—information withheld to protect privacy—relevance of requester’s relationship to subject of information considered in determining strength of privacy interest—information about mother made available in summary form
  • Request for deceased birth mother’s medical records

    Case notes
    Request by adult adopted woman for copy of late birth mother’s medical records—information withheld to protect privacy—requester in contact with birth mother prior to her death—birth mother left no will, did not name executor of her estate—no other surviving relatives—information relevant to requester’s own health—conditional release of information—Health Information Privacy Code
  • Request for documents relating to a party’s tender for land offered by Council

    Case notes
    Request for documents relating to tender submitted by another party (X) for land being offered for sale by Council—negotiations subject of legal proceedings—name suppression sought by X—Council refused to confirm or deny existence of information—information normally publicly available—information provided to requester subject to minor deletions to protect privacy
  • Request for information about adoption

    Case notes
    Request for information about requester’s adoption—requester unaware she had been adopted until recently—birth mother now deceased—information withheld to protect privacy—relevance of family relationship and age of information considered in determining strength of privacy interest—file made available to requester in its entirety
  • Local Authority has no right to demand legal and court fees from non-paying customer

    Case notes
    Local Authority issued legal proceedings to recover unpaid mooring charges along with an account for ‘legal and court costs’—as the case had not been heard by a Court, the complainant claimed this was wrong—Ombudsman upheld the complaint, noting that a Local Authority cannot claim costs and legal fees (this being a matter for the Court to determine) and the Local Authority cannot list these on a person’s account as owing—the Local Authority changed its procedures regarding recovery of court costs
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to grant non-notified resource consent despite neighbour’s objections

    Case notes
    Local Authority granted non-notifiable resource consent for building extension where complainant claimed the structure would block his lake views. Council correctly applied s 94(2)(b) when it determined that no persons would be affected by the building because the adverse effect of the proposal on the environment was minor—allowing the proposal to proceed on a non-notified basis was not unreasonable
  • Council ameliorates non-notified development plan where neighbours adversely affected

    Case notes
    Local Authority did not notify application for subdivision consent but neighbours claimed they were affected by it and following Ombudsman’s inquiries, Council agreed to ameliorate offending features of development—the complaint was therefore resolved to complainants’ satisfaction
  • Non-notification under RMA not unreasonable, but Council should include community involvement in decision

    Case notes
    Non-notification of resource consent application allowed—Resource Management Act 1991, s 94
  • City Councillors can challenge Council’s decisions through Council’s Regulatory Committee, not Ombudsman

    Case notes
    Decision of Council not to notify application for resource consent—request by Councillor for review of decision—insufficient personal interest—Resource Management Act 1991, s 94—Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 17(1)(b)
  • District Council agrees to backdate effect of rate fee to when notice of ownership received

    Case notes
    Rating—uniform annual general charges levied on adjoining properties—local authority not notified that adjoining properties were occupied by same ratepayer—application for a refund on the basis that only a single uniform annual general charge was payable—Rating Powers Act 1988, ss 21(1) and 23.
  • Local Authority remedies misunderstanding with elderly vendor in property re-purchase agreement

    Case notes
    Valuation of property for re-purchase—reliance by Council on valuer’s expertise—Council did not disclose information about recent comparable sales—perceived threat to withdraw unilaterally from transaction—Council’s intention to offer vendor opportunity to seek release from contract—apology and ex gratia payment offered for misunderstanding
  • Local Authority revises time limits for oral submissions on draft annual plan

    Case notes
    Annual Plan—special consultative process—amount of time to be allowed for oral submissions—s 716A of the Local Government Act 1974
  • Local Authority agreed its processes were inadequate when it removed vehicle from public street

    Case notes
    Vehicle removed by Local Authority in street—car had no registration sticker, was removed in accordance with ss 356(2) and (5) of the Local Government Act 1974 and stripped and crushed at a local tip—complainant claimed unfair process and investigation indicated a dispute of facts between the two parties about the time the car had been parked—Ombudsman found Authority’s records of actions inadequate—due process not followed—Authority accepted opinion—agreed to compensate for loss of the vehicle, apologise and to improve clarity of guidelines and procedures for record keeping
  • Local Authority determines adverse effect for non-notified resource consent

    Case notes
    Non-notified resource consent application for consent to erect second storey to property—neighbour denied objection and appeal rights—interpretation of s 94 of the Resource Management Act 1991
  • Local Authority required to clarify ‘original ground level’ for purposes of resource consents under District Plans

    Case notes
    Points of reference for measurements for height dispensations—need for clarity in district plans