Aquatic Centre Management Decision

5 March 2018

Process for review of Aquatic Centre options being finalised

Rotorua Lakes Council Chief Executive Geoff Williams is "extremely disappointed" staff representatives have declined to participate in finalising a process to review options for the Aquatic Centre.

"Representatives including the AWUNZ union which represents some Aquatic Centre staff have failed to take an opportunity to represent staff views and that is very unfortunate. Council was very clear last week on what needs to be done and we now need to proceed with the job we have been directed to undertake," Mr Williams said.

The Full Council last week voted 6-5 in favour of a recommendation "that Council go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options, including the staff proposal and development opportunities, for the Aquatic Centre".

Councillor Rob Kent, who put forward the recommendation, explained ahead of last week's vote that his recommendation sought to direct the CE and staff to re-evaluate all options that were on the table, including an alternative in-house proposal. He explained the recommendation also sought an evaluation of the potential impact of a partnership with CLM for management of the Aquatic Centre on potential future development, as proposed in the 2018-28 Long-term Plan.

Following last week's decision council management drafted terms of reference for a proposed external review and circulated these to elected members and AWUNZ for feedback.

"Feedback from elected members resulted in amendments and because it's also important for Aquatic Centre staff representatives to have input, I convened a meeting of the centre staff consultative committee, which was to be held today [Monday 5 March].

"Our invitation was made in good faith so it was extremely disappointing staff representatives declined to attend. We now have no alternative but to proceed with the proposed process without their input," Mr Williams said.

"There appears to be misunderstanding on the part of the staff representatives but in my view Council made their expectations very clear last week. The recommendation was to reconsider all options which were already on the table, not to start work with the union and staff to co-create a staff management model.

"That will occur if Council opts for a co-designed in-house management model but that decision has yet to be made and is not the process we have been asked to undertake at this time."

Mr Williams said it was important the matter be resolved as quickly as possible in order to give certainty to staff, ensure operational issues which had become evident at the Aquatic Centre were addressed and thirdly, to look at securing efficiency gains built into the long-term plan which was now out for consultation.

It is proposed the review be undertaken by two independent external experts to consider all of the options identified in the 17a review, as well as the union proposal and any potential impact on the long-term plan.

"The independent panel will then report back directly to Council on their recommendations and preferred model," Mr Williams said.

The consultative committee will be convened again once Council has received a report from the external panel.  Aquatic Centre staff representatives will receive the report and any feedback will be included as part of the report, which will be made to the 6 April Operations and Monitoring Committee.

Who is on the panel?

The external panel of two is made up of:

  • Jamie Delich, Spaces and Places Lead for Sport New Zealand. He has more than 44 years' involvement with the aquatics industry and now advises on national best practice and developments. He has been leading Sport NZ's National Sporting Facilities Network programme that involves facility concept, planning, design and build and operations. In his role as Spaces and Places Lead Mr Delich is coordinating regional strategies to develop sport and recreation facility priorities and needs across New Zealand.
  • John McRae, Partner with Deloittes and chairperson of Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, Rotorua Community Youth Centre Trust and InfraCore.  Mr McRae has previously been involved in work evaluating the investment case for a potential large scale development at or near the Rotorua Aquatic Centre.


5 March 2018

Statements address matters relating to consideration of future centre management

Statement from CE Geoff Williams:

“Suggestions a contract with CLM has already been signed and that council staff involved in an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) hearing lied about that are simply untrue.

“No contract has been signed and inferences to the contrary are extremely disappointing. This is merely a continuation of the misinformation, unfounded speculation and untrue allegations which have been circulated in relation to the Aquatic Centre matter.

“The facts are that in November elected members made a decision to contract CLM to manage the Aquatic Centre. That decision triggered normal contracting process – council staff and CLM began contract negotiations but that process was not completed.

“The council has complied fully with the agreement reached through the Employment Relations Authority and there has been no contract signed with CLM either before or since then.

“On Wednesday [28 February] the Council resolved to reconsider options for management of the Aquatic Centre, including the proposal put forward by the union representing some of the centre staff.

“We now have an additional process to undertake and will then await Council’s further decision, which will determine the way forward.

“Regarding editing of conversations heard during a five-minute recess following the decision on Wednesday, editing of meeting recordings is not usual practice. Generally recording equipment is turned off during breaks, which is why meeting recordings are often in more than one part on Council’s YouTube channel. Staff involved in recording Wednesday’s meeting noted the break had also been recorded and removed it as it was not part of the public meeting but there was no instruction from anyone to do so.”

Statement from Mayor Steve Chadwick:

“Council has an obligation to ensure decision-making is consistently fair and transparent.  Deviations from good practice can place Council decisions at risk, which is why I reminded councillors that, whichever way it went, our decision on Wednesday [28 February] regarding the Aquatic Centre would be open to judicial review.

“My conversation with Cr Sturt during a five-minute break following the decision, was about the potential for this to happen. There was nothing more to it than that.

“The RDRR group is clearly on record as being directly involved in the development and promotion of the alternative in-house proposal for the Aquatic Centre management.  It is concerning that there are councillors at our table who are members of and/or associated with that organisation who have not seen fit to declare an interest. I believe there is potential for questions about possible conflicts of interest and/or pre-determination or bias on the part of those councillors – these are the sorts of matters which leave us open to judicial review.

“This same group has also claimed I allowed councillors to put questions only about the outsourcing option, which is completely false.  There were questions and comment on all options, not just one.

“Lastly, much has been made of the fact those who developed the alternative in-house proposal haven’t been able to present it to councillors. Neither has anyone else who submitted a proposal for the Aquatic Centre because it is not how these processes are undertaken. Proposals and tenders submitted for council services or projects are presented to and assessed by a panel which then makes recommendations to elected members for their consideration. That is the proper process and is the process that has been undertaken regarding the Aquatic Centre.”


28 February 2018

Council to reconsider management options

The Full Council has today voted to reconsider management options for the Aquatic Centre.

The review of options will include an alternative proposal to retain management in-house which was submitted by AWUNZ, the union that represents some of the centre's staff.

The recommendation to "go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options including the staff proposal and development options for the Aquatic Centre" came from the Operations & Monitoring Committee.

The recommendation passed six votes to five with councillors Rob Kent, Peter Bentley, Raj Kumar, Tania Tapsell, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Mark Gould voting in favour.

Those who voted against the recommendation were Mayor Steve Chadwick and councillors Trevor Maxwell, Karen Hunt, Dave Donaldson and Charles Sturt.

The recommendation considered today was moved by Cr Kent during an Operations & Monitoring Committee meeting earlier this month. This was a change to the original recommendation which went to that committee, which was to either agree to submit the staff proposal for management of the Aquatic Centre to the full Council for its consideration or to not refer it on to the full council.

Council made a decision last November to partner with Community Leisure Management (CLM) for management of the Aquatic Centre.

The alternative proposal was required to be put to the Operations & Monitoring Committee as part of an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) consent determination that followed a challenge from the AWUNZ regarding the process undertaken prior to Council's November decision.

Council has signed no contract with CLM which was selected as the preferred partner for management of the Aquatic Centre following a request for proposals process.

Following today's resolution Rotorua Lakes Council Chief Executive Geoff Williams said the organisation would now undertake a further review of options for the centre, including the proposal submitted by the AWUNZ union, and would report back to elected members on the result of that review as soon as possible.

Today's meeting was livestreamed and the discussion on the Aquatic Centre matter can be viewed via THIS LINK on Council's website or by going to Council's You Tube channel.

A presentation given to the full Council today overviewing the process to date can be viewed HERE on Council's website.


1 February 2018

Recommendation to reconsider management options

The Operations and Monitoring Committee has passed a recommendation to the Full Council that it “go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options, including the staff proposal, and development opportunities for the Aquatic Centre”.

The motion, which was put by Councillor Rob Kent, passed by nine votes to five, with one abstention.

Councillors Kent, Peter Bentley, Tania Tapsell, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Raj Kumar and Mark Gould, Te Tatau o Te Arawa representatives Potaua Biasiny-Tule and Rawiri Waru, and Rotorua Lakes Community Board representative Mr Jim Stanton voted for the motion.

Mayor Steve Chadwick and councillors Dave Donaldson, Karen Hunt, Charles Sturt and Trevor Maxwell voted against the motion.

Rural community board representative Bob Martin abstained.

The recommendation which went to the committee for its consideration was:

That the committee:

  1. Agree to submit the staff proposal to the next Council meeting for consideration; or

  2. Not agree to submit the staff proposal to the next Council meeting for consideration.

Recommendation a) was included in the motion that was passed.

The purpose of the report to the committee was to provide an alternative proposal from Rotorua Aquatic Centre staff for the future management of the facility and seek the committee’s recommendation on the way forward.

The alternative proposal was required to be put to the committee as part of an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) consent determination. That followed a challenge from the union representing Aquatic Centre staff, AWUNZ, regarding the process undertaken prior to Council’s decision in November to partner with Community Leisure Management (CLM) for management of the facility.

After the motion was passed Acting Chief Executive Jean-Paul Gaston explained that in making its decision today Council had now discharged its commitment under the ERA consent determination.

The matter will now go to the full Council on 28 February as a recommendation to consider.

Staff will await the Council’s decision before acting on the recommendation although council could begin discussions with Aquatic Centre staff during the intervening period.

Go to p13 of the committee agenda to view the full report to the Operations & Monitoring Committee on this matter. This includes the alternative staff proposal and assessment of that proposal.

The meeting was livestreamed. To view the recording of the discussions regarding this matter go to THIS LINK on Council’s website or direct to Council’s YouTube channel.


17 January 2018

Alternative proposal presented to council managers

A proposal from the Amalgamated Workers union (AWUNZ) and Rotorua Aquatic Centre staff was presented to Rotorua Lakes Council managers today [17 January 2018] as part of an agreed process following an Employment Relations Authority hearing in December.

This was step 3 in the process and timeline to which both parties agreed, as per an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) "consent determination".

"We are working through that agreed process in good faith and following today's presentation will work through the proposal and meet again with union and staff representatives later this week," Rotorua Lakes Council Acting Chief Executive Craig Tiriana says.

Council and the union reached an agreement following an Employment Relations Authority hearing in December which followed a day of mediation when the two parties were unable to reach a resolution.

In November, following a review of the Aquatic Centre, Council approved a recommendation to partner with Community Leisure Management (CLM), which could extend the facility's offering and provide opportunities for future investment in upgrades.

AWUNZ and its members who are staff at the Aquatic Centre are opposed to an external provider managing the centre and have challenged the pre-decision process which did not enable them to present an alternative proposal.

Rather than going to a formal determination of the ERA the matter was resolved through what is called a "consent determination", whereby the two parties agreed on a process to enable the union and staff to put forward an alternative proposal for management of the Aquatic Centre.

The process agreed to was put forward by the Council and the alternative proposal from the union and staff will be tested against the same criteria against which external proposals were considered.

"The union and Aquatic Centre staff now have that opportunity and their proposal will be given due consideration and be put to elected members as additional information relevant to their previous decision," Mr Tiriana says.

The alternative proposal and a report on the matter will go to the council's Operations and Monitoring Committee, on 1 February 2018 when the committee will determine whether it should progress to the Full Council for its consideration.


During 2017 staff were involved in an Aquatic Centre review, conducted under Section 17a of the Local Government Act. That process which contributed to a report that outlined future opportunities and options. The report identified that a partnership with the private sector to manage the Aquatic Centre to a higher level should be explored and that was done.

The resulting recommendation was that partnering with the private sector would bring with it significant sector experience, new opportunities and the potential for future investment in the facility.

Proposals were sought from the market and a recommendation was made to elected members for their consideration with a decision made in November to partner with Community Leisure Management (CLM) to manage the Aquatic Centre.

The Consent Determination of the Employment Relations Authority relating to this matter is publicly available via the authority's website (


Previous updates

15 December 2017

Full interview by media with Mayor Steve Chadwick and CE Geoff Williams following hikoi to council.

Click on image below to view video:



8 December 2017 

Firm opportunities for majority of Rotorua Aquatic Centre staff

The majority of Rotorua Aquatic Centre staff now have options for employment with Community Leisure Management (CLM) which is to manage the facility on behalf of Rotorua Lakes Council.

“When Council made the decision last month to partner with CLM they were very clear they wanted us to ensure that we looked after staff, and that we did all that we could to provide new employment and/or redeployment opportunities,” Rotorua Lakes Council Sport and Recreation Manager Rob Pitkethley says.

“We’ve been working hard with the staff, their union and CLM to achieve this while also negotiating the partnership contract and there have been some very tough conversations, as would be expected when implementing a change like this. However we’ve seen a hugely positive response and commitment from CLM to our staff and as a result now have firm options of employment, with CLM, for 36 of the 38 permanent staff, at the same pay and on similar conditions.”

All 28 lifeguards and swim tutors received job options with CLM last week.

As of today 8 of 10 remaining staff – duty managers, supervisors, administration and front-of-house staff – also have firm options for employment with CLM.

“We’re committed to continuing to work with CLM and the remaining two staff members to see what options may exist for them. We’re also continuing negotiations with all parties to finalise terms and conditions for the CLM roles which have already been offered,” Mr Pitkethley says.

“We expect some staff will ultimately opt for voluntary redundancy – a few have already indicated they wish to do that – but we’re very pleased the majority have the opportunity for continued roles at the centre with CLM. Like CLM, we believe continuity of service is important and value the skills, experience and local knowledge of our existing staff.

“We are disappointed about inaccurate information that has been circulated publicly but we continue to work through this process in good faith. Our focus has been on finding the best possible outcome for all 38 staff at the centre and we’re very pleased with the positive response from CLM.”

All staff now have time to consider their options and make a decision. They will be retained on the council payroll until the end of January next year when the change in management is expected to take effect.

“CLM is a very experienced pool operator with an outstanding record of working with the communities it operates in,” Mr Pitkethley says. “They will improve and extend the service offered by the Aquatic Centre, will save the Council up to $700,000 every year and through this changeover process are also demonstrating the potential to be an excellent employer.”  


  • Council is required, under Section 17a of the Local Government Act, to review services at least every six years to ensure ongoing efficiency and effectiveness of services. The Aquatic Centre review included looking at current management of the facility and consideration of alternative management options. The review included interviews with staff at the centre.

  • Council made a decision last month to partner with CLM for management of the centre. Council retains ownership and control of the community outcomes sought from the services and programmes run at the centre. CLM will deliver on these outcomes.

  • The partnership is expected to result in improved outcomes for the community through new and extended programmes and initiatives. It will also provide savings for council of up to $700,000 per year (being the difference between how much it was costing council to run the centre in-house and the cost of contracting CLM to manage it).

  • CLM will seek to increase revenue through increased use of the facility as a result of improved and expanded services and programmes.

  • All current services and programmes will continue and there will be no change in fees with the changeover.

  • Council dealt with the matter in confidential so Aquatic Centre staff could be notified first, to protect staff’s privacy and due to the commercial nature of matters discussed.

About Community Leisure Management Limited (CLM)

  • The company has 22 years’ experience and manages 27 facilities across the country, notably in South Auckland where it works to support and build capability of communities in need.
  • Has committed to delivering and expanding agreed community outcomes, conduct regular needs analysis, analysis of local perceptions and hold annual user group meetings.
  • CLM has achieved the highest level of ACC accreditation for workplace safety management.
  • CLM will look to expand the Aquatic Centre’s role and activities offered which it expects will lead to more jobs. It will also provide work experience for local youth.
  • Interested in being a partner to invest in the facility eg in Palmerston North CLM partnered with a hydro slide business, resulting in new activities at no cost to the local council.
  • Find out more about CLM here

About the Rotorua Aquatic Centre

  • Opened 1975, more facilities added 1988 and 2004 – no substantial investment since;
  • About 350,000 visits per year;
  • Hosts swimming, waterpolo and underwater hockey competitions; delivers learn to swim and water safety programmes to public and schools.

Other previous updates and information:

4 December 2017
Redundancy last resort for Aquatic Centre Staff. 
Read more

30 November 2017
Job opportunities sought for Aquatic Centre Staff.
Read more

23 November 2017
Council to partner with Community Leisure Management to run Aquatic Centre.
Read more

18 October 2017
Review considers potential benefits of contracting external managers.
Read more

Page reviewed: 05 Mar 2018 7:54pm