Zealandia loss blows out to nearly $1.4m

STRUGGLING: Despite grim financial figures, the management of Zealandia's day-to-day operations is looked favourably on in a report.
STRUGGLING: Despite grim financial figures, the management of Zealandia's day-to-day operations is looked favourably on in a report.

Zealandia's financial woes are continuing, with the wildlife sanctuary's deficit growing by almost $500,000.

The Karori Sanctuary Trust posted a net financial deficit of just under $1.4 million for 2011-12 compared with $902,035 the previous year.

Its operating budget took a significant hit, ending in a $457,510 deficit after the trust effectively broke even 12 months earlier with a $1040 surplus.

In 2011-12, Wellington City Council gave the trust a $40,000 grant. The year before the grant was $700,000.

The trust ended the financial year with $1.06m cash in the bank, which will be used to fund expected operating losses in 2012-13, the report says.

But despite the grim financial figures, the report looked favourably on the management of Zealandia's day-to-day operations.

Visitor revenue rose from $825,127 to $931,279, although the sanctuary still fell short of its visitor target. Chief executive Nancy McIntosh-Ward said in the report that the number of foreign visitors rose almost 26 per cent.

"With the Rugby World Cup we saw an increased share of international visitors. However, local and domestic visitor numbers were disappointing - it would appear they stayed home instead."

Customers gave the sanctuary an overall satisfaction rating of 9.2 out of 10 from its visitor surveys, compared with 9.1 the previous year.

The council had originally intended to stop giving money from this financial year, when Zealandia was supposed to be self-sustainable.

But in a bid to solve the trust's financial woes, the council partnered with it earlier this year, established an interim board of trustees and promised $350,000 of funding for 2012-13 subject to the outcome of a governance and business model review.

The report will be considered at a council committee meeting on Monday along with reports from other council-controlled organisations.

Council natural environment portfolio leader Helene Ritchie said the report backed her long-held view that setting up Zealandia as a stand-alone money-making enterprise was not the right approach.

"Estimated visitors, which were largely a Positive Wellington [Tourism] exercise, were grossly overestimated and that is something that I've drawn to their attention over many years."

It was "absolutely essential" that a councillor joined the governance structure of Zealandia after the independent review was completed later this year, she said.


$1.16m contribution in 2009/10

$700,000 in 2010-11

$40,000 in 2011-12 

Contact Michael Forbes
Transport and metro reporter
Email: michael.forbes@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @michael_forbes

The Dominion Post