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  • Report on an unannounced inspection of Whanganui Prison - 4 September 2018

    OPCAT reports
    The following report has been prepared in my capacity as a National Preventive Mechanism under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989 (COTA). My function under the COTA is to examine and make any recommendations that I consider appropriate to improve the treatment and conditions of detained persons in a number of places of detention, including prisons. This report examines the treatment and conditions of persons detained in Whanganui Prison.
  • Local Authority excludes public from meeting when agenda item about water issues

    Case notes
    Complaint about a Local Authority (the Council) to exclude the public from a part of its Audit and Risk Committee meeting regarding its discussion of agenda item relating to water quality and water restriction issues—insufficient weight was given to the public interest in the subject matter of the agenda item
  • Request for information about staff grievances and allegations of bullying

    Opinions
    Sam Sherwood, on behalf of Stuff, made a request to Selwyn District Council for information about staff grievances and allegations of bullying.
  • Request for draft report prepared by PwC on Auckland Stadium

    Case notes
    Report refused because it was in draft form and commercially sensitive—parts of report withholdable however no basis for blanket withholding—strong public interest in release of report in part
  • Report on an unannounced follow-up inspection of Christchurch Women's Prison - 4 April 2018

    OPCAT reports
    In 2007, the Ombudsmen were designated one of the National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the Crimes of Torture Act (COTA), with responsibility for examining and monitoring the general conditions and treatment of detainees in New Zealand prisons.
  • Request for draft guidelines on religious instruction and observance in schools

    Case notes
    Officials still in the process of drafting—premature disclosure in advance of the planned public consultation process was not in the overall public interest
  • Report on an unannounced inspection of Arohata Upper Prison - 21 March 2018

    OPCAT reports
    The Upper Prison was facing considerable challenges. Resources, infrastructure and staffing were under pressure, which was compounded by the geographical separation from the administrative centre at Tawa. Day-to-day operating systems and arrangements for dealing with women were not fully embedded. Reception and induction processes were poor, and information for foreign prisoners was not available. Significant delays in access to personal property were a source of frustration for many women, reflected in the growing number of complaints and misconducts.
  • Declined request for dispensation regarding school Transport Entitlement Zone

    Case notes
    A family asked the Board of Trustees (the Board) of School A for dispensation to allow their child to access bus services to attend School B.
  • Early resolution of a potential water restriction to a family home

    Case notes
    A family received notice that an agency would be severely restricting its water supply because of an overdue account. Once the Ombudsman became involved, the agency reviewed its accounts and realised it was in error. On the Ombudsman’s request, the agency apologised to the family and committed to reviewing its accounts more carefully before advising of possible water restrictions. From complaint to resolution, the issue was resolved in only 12 working days without the family suffering water restrictions.
  • Administrative error leading to loss of opportunity to name a road

    Case notes
    In mid-2016, the owners of land containing a private road became aware that Kaipara District Council (the Council) had excluded them from a consultation process that it had initiated among residents earlier that year to determine a name for the road.
  • Request for draft reports prepared by EY on Information Services

    Case notes
    Draft reports were in fact final reports—some information publicly available—negotiations had been concluded—neither s 7(2)(c)(ii) nor s 7(2)(i) apply—significant public interest in release to promote transparency of Council’s decision making processes and accountability for expenditure of ratepayer money
  • Request for Skypath business case and procurement plan

    Case notes
    Releasing business case and procurement plan would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the private partner in a public private partnership—withholding strengths and weaknesses of negotiating position necessary to enable Council to carry on negotiations without prejudice or disadvantage—ss 7(2)(b)(ii), 7(2)(c)(i), 7(2)(i) apply
  • Request for draft internal review of International Visitor Survey

    Case notes
    Internal review still in draft form—redacted comments comprised preliminary views of individual within agency—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied—no overriding public interest in disclosure
  • Department of Corrections staff to follow legislative requirements when segregating inmate

    Case notes
    Department of Corrections held prisoner in Management Unit without following required procedure—segregation legislation and regulations are clear and prescriptive
  • Local Authority fails to include relevant information on a Land Information Memorandum

    Case notes
    Local Authority omits to identify potential slippage risk on a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) issued to the complainant—Ombudsman sustains complaint
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to turn off water supply at property owned by a Trust

    Case notes
    Decision by Local Authority to turn off water supply in building occupied intermittently—Ombudsman finds not unreasonable
  • Request for documentation about ‘Ageing in Place’ contract

    Case notes
    Release of detailed proposals and component prices would have an adverse effect on tenderers’ responses to future tenders issued by the DHB, which would damage the public interest—s 9(2)(ba)(ii) OIA applies—release would have an inhibiting effect in future on the quality of the documentation associated with the DHB’s contract negotiations and tender evaluation, which would be prejudicial to the future conduct of such tenders—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for discussions between Ministers on business before Cabinet

    Case notes
    Discussions between Ministers on business before Cabinet imbued with a presumption of confidentiality—s 9(2)(g)(i) provides good reason to withhold undocumented discussions
  • Request for draft public discussion document regarding auditor regulation

    Case notes
    Close-to-final draft containing limited evidence of opinion material—risk of public misunderstanding of the status of this draft document did not justify withholding and could be addressed by disclosure of contextual information—strong public interest in transparency of the policy development process given full-scale public consultation no longer intended
  • Regional Authority not unreasonable in approach to Council’s earthworks activity

    Case notes
    Local Authority constructed walkway—Regional Authority took reasonable action against Council—whether application for resource consent should have been notified
  • Local Authority’s management of consent process not unreasonable

    Case notes
    Local Authority proposal for Youth Zone to be included in Reserves Management Plan criticised—alleged lack of public consultation—concern that the report recommending inclusion of a Youth Zone was biased and misleading—Ombudsman finds Council did not act unreasonably
  • Local Authority agrees to pay difference in solicitor fees

    Case notes
    Local Authority—fees charged to complainant for legal work required in relation to a building consent—not unreasonable to require Council solicitors to carry out the work as long as their fees are no higher than complainant’s own solicitor—failure to inform complainant of liability for legal fees but no material disadvantage caused by this
  • Request for Consultative Draft District Plan

    Case notes
    Consultative Draft District Plan refused under s 7(2)(f)(i)—information did not meet requirements of that section—no statutory prohibition in Resource Management Act which prevents information being made available before the date of notification—Resource Management Act 1991, s 35(2)
  • School Board of Trustees agrees to address significant deficiencies in suspension procedure

    Case notes
    Suspension and expulsion of student where several significant deficiencies were identified in the procedures of the Board’s disciplinary committee led to the Board of Trustees agreeing to review its procedures and apologise to student and family—the Board also amended student’s records to show the suspension decision was invalid—the Board’s willingness to address its deficiencies were notable in this case (Board members were all new to the role)
  • District Council accepts wider interpretation of ‘household’

    Case notes
    Imposition of two sewer charges—whether complainant’s mother part of the ‘household’— interpretation of Rating Powers Act 1988, s 30
  • Local Authority required to ensure potable water condition meets standards

    Case notes
    Complaint about potable water condition of subdivision consent where supply did not meet requirements under New Zealand Drinking Water Standards 1984 (revised 2005 and 2008)—Ombudsman found local authority failed to interpret data correctly before issuing resource consent on the subdivision—the water quality was substandard and the local authority provided incorrect advice about improving the quality—the local authority was required to compensate the complainants who had to obtain potable water from another source
  • City Council not required to consider legal costs regarding enforcement order

    Case notes
    Claim for reimbursement of legal costs incurred obtaining an Enforcement Order—Court awarded costs—insufficient to cover full costs—co-operation between complainant and City Council prior to proceedings—costs not covered in agreement—claim not upheld
  • Council accepts practical solution to resolve concerns about building consent

    Case notes
    Building consent for garage—garage constructed to wrong plans—Council issues notice to rectify—retrospective consent granted—withdrawal of notice to rectify
  • Community Boards fall under Ombudsmen jurisdiction if decision(s) made other than by Committee as a whole

    Case notes
    Jurisdiction—Community Board—decisions of full Board outside jurisdiction—scope of jurisdiction limited to acts or decisions of committees, subcommittees, officers, employees or members of Board—Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 13(1) and (2)
  • City Council offers partial rebate for charge on excess water usage

    Case notes
    Excess water usage charges—local authority policy on rebates—partial or full rebate—hidden leakage
  • School Board of Trustee and Principal failed to follow disciplinary process; contrary to law

    Case notes
    School Board of Trustees fails to follow statutory criteria for suspension of student (failure to provide guidance and counselling)—suspending a student is a serious step requiring careful consideration—the Ombudsman’s investigation of a wide-ranging complaint by a mother about the manner in which a school had dealt with various aspects of her two sons’ behaviour, culminating in the indefinite suspension of one of her sons, highlighted the need for Principals and Boards of Trustees to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the procedural requirements of s 13 of the Education Act 1989
  • Department of Corrections should explain reasons for declining application to be excused from PD reporting

    Case notes
    Refusal of application to be excused from reporting for periodic detention—incomplete explanation given at the time—reasons and apology provided—Criminal Justice Act 1985, s 41(3)