NZ Local News

Invercargill City Council suitcase used only once after ‘exorbitant’ purchase

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A suitcase purchased at an “exorbitant” price by Invercargill City Council for the sole purpose of bringing gifts home from Japan has not been used since.

Last week, the $750 item made headlines after appearing on a council report detailing “sensitive expenditure”.

Described by council group manager finance and assurance Patricia Christie as a “hard-shell, Samsonite-style case”, it was bought during a trip to sister city Kumagaya in July.

Invercargill City Council has been criticised for spending $750 on a suitcase to bring back two gifts from Japan — a porcelain plate gifted by the Kumagaya Friendship Association and a bamboo bowl gifted by the City of Kumagaya. Photo / Supplied
Invercargill City Council has been criticised for spending $750 on a suitcase to bring back two gifts from Japan — a porcelain plate gifted by the Kumagaya Friendship Association and a bamboo bowl gifted by the City of Kumagaya. Photo / Supplied

But it drew criticism after the expense was highlighted in a committee meeting by mana whenua representative Pania Coote.

Councillor Ria Bond told Local Democracy it was an “exorbitant” price to pay for a suitcase considering there were people in the city struggling to put food on the table.

The council confirmed the suitcase has not been used since bringing back the gifts, which are also not on display. Photo / Supplied
The council confirmed the suitcase has not been used since bringing back the gifts, which are also not on display. Photo / Supplied

Invercargill City Council manager governance and legal Michael Morris confirmed the item hadn’t seen much daylight since last winter.”The suitcase purchased by Invercargill City Council in Japan last year is being stored at Te Hīnaki Civic Building, and has not been used since its return,” Morris said.

”However, it will be available for future use where required.”

Christie previously explained the suitcase was bought at a luggage shop near the hotel where council delegates stayed in Tokyo.

It was bought in the presence of councillor Barry Stewart, approved by Mayor Nobby Clark, and used to bring home two items — a bamboo bowl gifted by the City of Kumagaya and a porcelain plate gifted by the Kumagaya Friendship Association.

Both were deemed too large to travel as carry-on luggage and required a high level of protection due to their delicate nature, Christie said.

Since arriving in Invercargill, the bowl and plate have been stored in council archives alongside other items not on display.

The two items were likely to be displayed in the near future, Christie said.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air



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