Camera-shy Kapiti councillors call in police to show public speaker the door

Public speaker Chris Walker pleads his case to a police officer called to eject him from the Kapiti Coast District ...
Joel Maxwell

Public speaker Chris Walker pleads his case to a police officer called to eject him from the Kapiti Coast District Council chambers after he attempted to set up a camera and film councillors while he spoke to them.

It was the very last meeting of the council term, but it couldn't quite make it through without police being called.

Officers were called to remove a public speaker from a Kapiti Coast District Council meeting on Thursday after he set up an impromptu film studio at the council chambers.

Otaki man Chris Walker took to the public speakers' podium in the early afternoon and set up a tripod, with digital camera mounted on it, so he could film councillors while he spoke to them.

It was the second time Walker had attempted to film the councillors in the past few months. He said he aimed to upload the footage to Facebook.

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Walker said he was at the meeting to speak on several issues, but mayor Ross Church was "allergic to cameras: cameras that other people hold".

He said it was a public space, where expectations of privacy did not apply.

A security guard was standing in front of Walker while he spoke, and the camera was filming but had been tilted away from the council tables.

Walker said the meeting was already being filmed – for live streaming – by the council, so he should be able to film too.

Church said Walker had broken standing orders for the meeting – when people had to ask to film, and do it unobtrusively.

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If they asked then he had the chance to check with councillors and staff whether they wanted to be filmed.

Church said he asked Walker to stop filming, which he refused to do – then Church requested staff call in a security guard to ask him to leave.

When Walker refused to leave, Church stopped the meeting and police were called.

Eventually an officer spoke to Walker for several minutes, and Walker then agreed to leave without incident, taking his camera and tripod with him.

Chief executive Pat Dougherty said to Walker that the live-stream video was not recorded.

Councillors K Gurunathan and Gavin Welsh had remained in the mostly-empty chamber. They both had concerns that Walker should have been able to film, and that legal advice to councillors on the situation after the last time Walker tried to film had been slow in coming.

Welsh said he believed standing orders gave the right for people to film a meeting. And Walker had been forced to wait three hours till the public speaking session.

As the legal clarification hadn't come through, they should have just let him film, Welsh said.

The meeting was the last of the term, with election day running on October 8.

 - Stuff Nation

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