Another referendum perspective

Larry Baldock is challenging the museum referendum. Photo: Supplied.

A pro-museum interpretation of the 60/40 museum referendum result finds the majority of the 40 per cent in favour of a new museum, want it on Cliff Road.

Sixty per cent of eligible voters who took part in the non-binding referendum voted against the museum.

But City Transformation Committee chairman and museum advocate Larry Baldock is taking encouragement from the fact the ‘no’ vote represents only 18 per cent of eligible voters.

He’s calling it the baby referendum.

“Like a newly arrived baby the turnout was small,” says Larry in his committee chairman’s report on Monday.

“Babies can be easily taken advantage of and manipulated and also become confused easily.  Babies are costly and sometimes leave you wondering if you did the right thing.

“Regarding the location of a museum the results are confused because it is clear that 2728 of those who voted no to Council including a museum in the LTP also then voted for either Cliff Rd or Willow St as a location for the Museum they do not want,” says Larry.

“When those No voters are removed from the location issue, the results of Yes voters by Cliff Rd is 55 per cent - and Willow St 46 per cent.

“It also appears that there were some voters who so strongly support a museum they ticked both Cliff Road and Willow Street, perhaps in an attempt to send a clear message, ‘I don’t care where, as long as it’s somewhere’.”

If Council decides to proceed with a museum, the one message they can take from the referendum is that Cliff Rd will be acceptable to the majority of those in favour of a museum.

The referendum has come at a cost with very little benefit, except for some lessons that may be learnt and experience gained concerning on-line voting, says Larry.

There were 4956 online voters which is 16.67 per cent of the total votes cast. Predictions and hopes of this having a great effect on voter turnout in the Council by-election did not eventuate as 2064 or 41.65 per cent of online referendum voters did not also vote in the by-election. (6.9 per cent of total voters)

What they can’t know for certain is how much the electioneering and hype around the by-election actually affected the 18 per cent of eligible voters who voted against the museum to produce the 58 per cent result.

“Amongst them there will undoubtedly be some who have studied the issues and have made their minds up against the museum,” says Larry.

“They are happy for Tauranga to be the only large city not to have a museum. They will have their reasons and they have exercised their democratic right.”

But he says among the 18 per cent of eligible voters that voted no, there will be some who have made their decisions influenced by misinformation and confusion.

“Despite all the negative campaigning, with almost all of the by-election candidates saying no to a museum, and all the misleading information, a brave and dedicated 41 per cent of those who voted in the referendum said they supported Council including a Museum in the LTP,” says Larry.

“We cannot of course know the opinion of the almost 70 per cent of eligible voters who did not take part.

“If this referendum of only 31 per cent of eligible voters is somewhat representative of the whole population of the city, then we must ask ourselves as we continue in the LTP process, is 41 per cent support enough for us to continue to prepare for a museum in this city?”

While a referendum with a clear majority would be helpful, the city council makes decisions all the time that are not necessarily supported by the majority of ratepayer voters or citizens.

“Where would our passionate cyclists be in this city if every time we proposed spending ratepayer money on improving their facilities and infrastructure we had to get a majority vote in a referendum,” says Larry.

“Would we have bought a speedway stadium, built ASB arena, or spent millions on international quality hockey turfs, lights for a cricket oval, or annually grant a million dollars to an art gallery and many other facilities even though these are not always used and supported by everyone,” asks Larry.

“What if we held a referendum on whether to spend money on the proposed improvements to 15th Ave, a community centre in a needy suburb somewhere or even, perish the thought, a supermarket. 

“The Council that voted nearly 20 years ago to install water meters despite the indicative referendum that opposed installing them, did the right thing and has preserved our city’s water supply and saved millions of dollars and the past two decades.

“If we are going to demand that to proceed with a museum there must be majority support from the community then we should be consistent on all the decisions we make.

“We are not elected to only serve the wishes of a majority in the city. We are to endeavour to meet the needs and desires of the whole community and it is time we paid attention to aspirations of this patient 40 per cent that have been waiting, in some case for decades for this great city to have a place to tell its history, its story and the so many other stories of the wonderful men and women who have lived here.”

The results of the ‘baby referendum’ will play a part in councillors decision making in the Long term Plan, but it must not dominate the process nor lead councillors to make early conclusions, says Larry.

“We have a lot of information and feedback to work through as we examine all the LTP submissions and listen to oral presentations from 300 submitters. We are required to maintain an open mind until we make our final decision on June 26.”



Posted on 08-05-2018 15:03 | By morepork

If the people in favour "weren’t motivated" (and There were MANY attempts to motivate them...), and the people against WERE motivated (based on the fact that they voted...), then what does that say about the importance of this issue? It isn’t about being pro or con on a museum, there are shades of grey in the issue. The majority are against a museum RIGHT NOW because there are other higher priorities. That’s a perfectly valid response and should be accepted and respected by the people in power. If those people don’t understand "living within your means" then MAYBE they shouldn’t be there. If those people attempt to spin a Referendum result, and ignore the voice it represents because THEIR opinion is what matters, then they DEFINITELY should not be there. Also, I can’t imagine why you think Switzerland is a model for Democracy; never heard of William Tell?

I agree...

Posted on 08-05-2018 14:52 | By morepork

... with the general consensus here. It is a mockery if vested interests try to spin the result of a Referendum because it doesn’t match what they want. Their job is to LISTEN. Sure, you can lobby to persuade to your POV, but this is simply excessive and denigrates the Democratic process to the point of being shameful. I’ve now lost all respect for Mr. Baldock and will be voting accordingly in the upcoming elections.

NO means NO

Posted on 08-05-2018 14:41 | By kiwigirl41

What part of NO DON’T you understand.....maybe you’ll get the message at the next elections...

Take it off the table

Posted on 08-05-2018 14:17 | By mistarex

What next? It was a fake referendum? I’m done with these clowns, the turnout is inconsequential! Those who were motivated enough to vote said NO by 60/40. Those who didn’t vote, didn’t exercise their democratic right and cant’ complain about the outcome. Game over, but of course, politicians know what’s best for their " kingdom". Good grief Larry, try crowd funding a museum and build it with the response to that. We managed to grow to NZ’s 5th largest city without a museum but are struggling with overloaded infrastructure. Maybe fix that first , that’s the current priority?

WOW Robin Bell,

Posted on 08-05-2018 14:08 | By babyG

that confirms a lot for me! I am not even going to start a debate with you based on democracy, respect, fair play, integrity....................................... no need for any reply........................... GAME OVER.


Posted on 08-05-2018 13:46 | By Bill Gibson-Patmore

Lots of contributors have had valid message for Mr Baldock. ... I actually doubt that he will take their messages on-board. ... History does not favour him being accepting of opinion. .. Rather than repeat the arguments so well put, I wish to add one comment: Bloody Muppet! ... Bill Gibson-Patmore


Posted on 08-05-2018 13:35 | By stephennel

Would you like a sandwich? No, thank you.Would you prefer jam or peanut butter on it?The above stupidity is similar to the voting document we received.The function of a councillor is to consult with ratepayers and vote accordingly in council, not a place to promote his personal agenda. I wish ratepayers could institute a motion of no confidence in such councillors and have them kicked out permanently.

Not another!!

Posted on 08-05-2018 13:30 | By P Double

Is this man going to pursue referendum after referendum in the vain hope that the result will be different. Move on sir - the answer is NO!

This man is a disgrace

Posted on 08-05-2018 13:05 | By The Tomahawk Kid

Democracy is a great thing when the biggest gang agree with what you want.Otherwise keep having referendums until you finally get a result that is at least closer to your views.I have opposed Larry Baldock and his idea of politics for many years, and his latest immoral stance has confirmed that I was correct. Get this man out of local politics ASAP.


Posted on 08-05-2018 13:03 | By Local Too

NO means NO.

Waiknot, it is irrelevant,

Posted on 08-05-2018 12:55 | By R. Bell

whether you once respected my comments. There is no "manipulation" in the truth. I don’t ever expect those determined to block a museum to see the truth. Whether you agree or not, the simple fact is referendum are largely decided by emotion and conservative bias. The undeniable truth of this survey/ referendum is that those opposed came out in force and those in support were largely unmotivated. A museum is not, and never will be something that can be decided in this way. As I’ve said before and repeat there to represent all citizens, not just ratepayers who are swayed by self interest, and exaggerated, ambiguous claims by disingenuous political aspirants. Robin Bell.

Done and dusted

Posted on 08-05-2018 12:34 | By Corwen

60% against. Maths is not hard. Voter turnout in irrelevant.MMP was introduced on a 54% MMP/46% FFPVery condescending remarks from Mr Baldock. Council decided to have the referendum, why then say its not relevant because of voter turnout. More money wasted.

GIVE IT UP - focus on the roads

Posted on 08-05-2018 12:13 | By Lvdw

just give it a rest now Larry. People are so tired of hearing about the VERY expensive museum. We have MUCH bigger problems to deal with in Tauranga - like inadequate roads!

R Bell

Posted on 08-05-2018 11:42 | By waiknot

I once respected your comments, now I find you also manipulate to achieve your desired, predetermined outcome. Sad really.

rate payers money

Posted on 08-05-2018 11:23 | By hapukafin

No matter what councillers pledge during election ,all they know what to do when voted in is to waste rate payers money for their own gain..WE ALL KNOW WHO NOT TO VOTE NEXT TIME DONT WE

What #!?*

Posted on 08-05-2018 11:14 | By JoyceR

Nice to be able to skirt around the edges of the truthful result of a fairly contested democratic process, only to then manipulate/spin the outcome to suit your own purpose of need. You don’t get to edit these results Mr. Baldock!

Heads I Win Tails You Loose

Posted on 08-05-2018 10:39 | By Kaimai

Unbelievable, to treat voters and ratepayers with such contempt


Posted on 08-05-2018 10:29 | By The Caveman

from museum advocate Larry Baldock - What part of the two letter word "NO" does he not understand? The majority of the people who VOTED said NO ! ! !

Loopy Larry

Posted on 08-05-2018 10:10 | By waiknot

Is the one who looks like a baby sulking over a result he doesnt like. I also believe he didnt attend John Robsons swearing in ceremony, so disrespectful!!!!


Posted on 08-05-2018 09:36 | By tabatha

Larry in your wisdom, or lack of, you pushed for two options and I feel a lot of people felt there were more options. The choice should have included another site not restricted to Cliff Road or downtown. A lot of museums are not in the thick of it and have easier parking and not on someone else’s door step. Back off let it die, we can not afford with all the spending on other things that are or not necessary. We need roading improvements, mentioned it to once and you showed lack of interest. Start LISTENING to those you represent and that is not yourself.

Is this the Same Baldock?

Posted on 08-05-2018 09:25 | By Murray.Guy

Is this the same Baldock that campaigned on ’enhancing democracy, binding referendums’? It must be ’spam’ or the community was lied to. Cr. Baldock notes many bi-election candidates opposed his Cliff Rd/Otamataha Pa massacre site for a museum, stating, "They are happy for Tauranga to be the only large city not to have a museum ...". More of Cr.Larry Baldock’s typical fabrication to divert attention from the truth. This candidate supports our city having a museum, but like most candidates, REJECTS the Baldock manipulation, misinformation and refusal to apply integrity to the community consultation processes. Cr. Baldock, many of us are FAR from happy that you deny us the right to access our history and artifacts (utilizing, enhancing many existing entities), and a damn sight more unhappy about the corrupt processes being employed to ’get your own misguided way’.

The NO's have it!

Posted on 08-05-2018 09:04 | By thebrads6

There is this funny thing we have in this country, it is called democracy. When an issue is to be decided, ALL eligible people get a vote. The voters look at the facts & decide if they want to vote for or against or not at all. Then, wait for it, Here is the funny bit. When the voting closes they are tallied up & the proposal with the most votes wins. HOW can this be misconstrued?

Call it what you like

Posted on 08-05-2018 09:03 | By Brian Porter

I’ll try and make it easier so you can understand Larry, those who took the time to vote have said NO to a museum in Tauranga. Those who chose not to vote for what ever reason just didn’t, or don’t care. End of story.


Posted on 08-05-2018 08:57 | By Denny G

Can’t wait for the next local body elections so that the ratepayers can send a clear message to those councilors who have a "hidden agenda" and wish to over-spend council funds.

Needs to be voted out.

Posted on 08-05-2018 08:57 | By waiknot

Babies can be easily taken advantage of and manipulated and also become confused easily. Babies are costly and sometimes leave you wondering if you did the right thing.To refer to voters as babies, unbelievable!!! So at the last election what percentage of eligible voters actually voted for Larry? Using Larrys logic he should stand down from council immediately.

Statistics show that

Posted on 08-05-2018 08:43 | By earlybird

voter turnout for the 2016 Local Body Elections in Tauranga was 38%. You, Larry, were obviously more than happy to accept your election on that very low turnout. I didn’t hear any complaints coming from your direction, so what has changed. The museum referendum has been held and the voters said NO. Just accept that and move on.


Posted on 08-05-2018 08:41 | By Captain Sensible

No means no. Is it any wonder most people have no confidence or trust towards the dishonesty and incompetence of TCC?


Posted on 08-05-2018 08:37 | By Merlin

What part of the vote do you not understand you and Simon.Do not throw the toys out.

Get real..

Posted on 08-05-2018 08:32 | By Marshal

If you are obsessed about having a Museum.. Put your effort into finding alternative funding for it.I’d guess the top twenty wealth gatherers in Tauranga probably have more disposable income that the Tauranga City Council.. And while I am here, I’d put more Public toilet way up the list above a Museum..

For goodness sake Larry

Posted on 08-05-2018 08:31 | By earlybird

You held a referendum and you’ve got the result. The fact that the turnout was low is neither here nor there. The majority of those that bothered to vote do NOT want a museum. If you want another referendum, and assuming that’ll also be a NO, followed by more and more referendums until finally you get something like the result you obviously want, then I suggest you pay for it/them out of your own pocket and leave ratepayers money alone for more important things.

Creative accounting?

Posted on 08-05-2018 08:30 | By nerak

Well done Larry, you’ve taken the figures and thrown them like dice to come up with what suits you, congratulations on your newly arrived baby. How many throws did it take? And are your own pockets deep enough to see it through the next 50 years? You so desperately want it to grow, trust you will be personally funding it.

Referendum can be rubbish,

Posted on 08-05-2018 08:27 | By R. Bell

even reverse democracy. Switzerland often touted as democratic heaven in fact denied the vote to women until the 1970s, some areas as late as 1990. Two reasons MEN and referendum. No one can tell from the survey, mistakenly called a referendum we just had, that was obviously distorted by poor publicity, just what the majority opinion is. A 40% in favour under those circumstances is tantamount to a clear indication of support. Robin Bell.

Go away mr Badlock

Posted on 08-05-2018 08:19 | By Angels

We have had more than enough of your antics. You listen to no one. You are truly the most ignorant politician I have encountered in my life.Move to Russia etc if you don,t want democracy. You are a disgrace to the city and democracy.You should never be voted in for anything ever again.Your disgusting attitude toward democracy is more than shameful.Please step down from the council as you are NOT representing the people of this city.Your antics prior to the vote were totally disgusting. Drawing contests, high school kids, you tried everything and they all failed. And still you can,t get the message.NO Museum


Posted on 08-05-2018 08:00 | By Taniwha0

Drop it Larry ,we don’t want the museum,stop wasting TDC money concentrate on the important things.your letter is long and boring .

No means NO

Posted on 08-05-2018 07:58 | By Hopeful

ATTENTION TCC mayor & councillors Stop wasting time and ratepayers money by continually pushing for a museum. Simply put - its a WANT not a NEED(Thou Im sure Taurangas Street & Homeless will appreciate a lovely new building to hang out in front of)Mayoralty/Councillor 101 - Listen & work for the districts ratepayers (especially to those who have lived here longer than 5 minutes. 30+ yrs),paid their rates religiously. Just get on with building the Hairni /15thAve-Turret Rd 4 LANE BRIDGE and ROAD - NOW. This corridor was left for the sole purpose of city growth & the predictable roadiing infrastructure needed to cope with that growth 30+ yrs ago. Stop ignoring the people & real city issues, giving weak excuses and wasting time and money on luxury WANTS.

No means no

Posted on 08-05-2018 07:56 | By The Sage

If any Councillors dont understand that they should not be Councillors.

Next elections

Posted on 08-05-2018 07:51 | By gincat

The pro campaign wheeled out school kids, Ian Taylor etc resulted in only 40% vote, pretty disappointing one would have thought. Perhaps Larry will get the message at the next local body elections,he’s been dumped once along with 6 other councillors.

heavens above

Posted on 08-05-2018 07:46 | By fletch

What part of NO do you not understand. Only our council can take a NO vote and turn it into a yes.

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