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Zoo Board Rejects Holding Company Proposal

Thursday 18 September 2008

*Auckland's Zoo Board Rejects Holding Company Proposal*

At today's Zoo Board meeting, Auckland City Councillor Leila Boyle raised, as an item of extraordinary business, the issue of establishing a holding company which was endorsed by Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) Councillors at yesterday's Finance and Strategy Committee meeting so the possible effect of this policy direction on the Auckland Zoological Park could be discussed.

Councillor Leila Boyle said, "I raised this issue at the Zoo Board meeting today because the officers' report on yesterday's Finance and Strategy Committee meeting agenda repeatedly used Auckland Zoo as an example of an Auckland City Council asset which could be transferred to a holding company so I thought it was extremely important that the Zoo Board consider the issue.

"Officers said in the report that if the Zoo was required to report to a board with more commercial expertise than the current one, the zoo could become more efficient in its operations, or new funding models could be explored. They said these measures could increase the zoo's non-council income and reduce the annual subsidy currently required from Auckland City ratepayers.

"Apart from being deeply concerned that this could pave the way for taking a key Council asset out of Council's democratic control, I think this analysis ignores the considerable savings and efficiencies the Auckland Zoo has made in its operations over the last few years. The Auckland Zoo is a leader in sustainable business practices, particularly where water and power savings are concerned and they have also significantly saved costs through reducing, reusing and recycling more than 80% of their rubbish.

"I consider that given the Auckland Zoo's mission statement and strategic intents, it is completely inappropriate to transfer the governance of the Zoo into a holding company with a purely commercial focus. The Zoo Board agrees with this position and voted unanimously in favour of a motion I moved along these lines.

"I would like to commend the Auckland Zoo Director and staff for running an extremely tight ship which seeks out all possible sources of income to reduce the Council's subsidy as much as practicable and for carrying out their activities in an effective, efficient, business-like way.

"It is vital that we all recognise that the Zoo assets, resources and services are owned and operated for the public good and it is essential that they remain under the direct control of councillors who are elected by, and accountable to, the people of Auckland. The Zoo's operations must continue to benefit New Zealand's conservation efforts by providing exciting visitor experiences which inspire and empower people to take positive action for wildlife and the environment," Councillor Boyle concluded.


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