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Elections 2016: Vision Kerikeri's questions to the candidates - and their responses.

Vision Kerikeri (VKK) recently posed a range of questions to the nine candidates seeking election to the Bay of Islands - Whangaroa Ward of the Far North District Council and to the two Mayoral candidates.. These questions relate to issues that VKK has been active in pursuing with the existing council(s) over a number of years. You can view the questions and responses by scrolling down the page.


Climate Change

Do you believe that it is a Council role to show leadership in limiting or reducing carbon emissions and thus helping to mitigate the future impact of climate change on the Far North District?

Tania McInnes: Yes

Fred Terry: I do not think it is the Council’s specific core duty, but do believe that in any development or policy the council initiates, it is compliant with the best code of environmental law

Ann Court: Councils functions are dictated by the LGA 2012 - Our role is deliver core infrastructure and services at least cost to home owners and businesses (abridged). We have a role to play in achieving National Environmental Standards and we do this through policy, by-laws, district plan changes to name a few - we are not however leaders in the true sense of the word in climate change we are reactionary to central dictated legislation. Our role therefore is reactive rather than proactive. I wouldn't want to see our scope expanded at this time as we have limited capacity to respond to matters outside of our mandated brief and I remain concerned that these goals whilst laudable and sensible can divert precious ratepayer funded resources away from core business - therefore in reply I think given the ratepayers ability to pay for resourcing climate change initiatives over and above our core functions either by physical support or infrastructural changes is probably a little too tight at the moment - the current balance is about right.

Jane Johnston: Yes Council must show leadership in terms of how it conducts its business to reduce its corporate environmental footprint. It is even more critical though, that it understands its fundamental role in providing the systemic changes required to enable households and businesses to change how they do their business. The fact is it is local councils – as territorial authorities – that have been delegated the functions and array of powers to deliver the “communal” systems that facilitate how individuals, households and businesses behave in going about their daily lives - what they can and can’t do to reduce their individual footprint, that in turn contributes to our collective footprint. For example, transportation network, land use zoning, urban design, building design, waste management, provisions for water, waste water, and for storm-water are all interlinked within a settlement system. The academic discipline of urban geography is all about this – and I am very good at ‘systems’ thinking and got an A for that subject within my BSc – and then continued to study urban development for 10yrs as I taught the subject in NZ and in the UK, and then moved into strategic planning, which is all about how to steer towards a preferred ‘framework’ and system and prevent a basket case one that delivers the opposite of what we need to be doing if we are seriously about survival on this planet! There is very little that an individual, household or business does that has not been influenced by the systems designed and built by councils (and Govt). Every step of the way, councils are in the driving seat and making important decisions that lead to status quo and resource hungry communities or towards a more sustainable form of development, that facilitates people doing things differently. If you aren’t sure if I know what I am talking about – I share with you two pieces of research I did as a consultant to MfE.... One is about how it might influence councils to do more to promote sustainable households, the other focused on promoting sustainable businesses. A big problem for us mere minions is that Government chose not to publish my work – in fact it abandoned the whole “sustainable development” agenda – so what had been a very proactive Ministry for the Environment was gutted and hardly does anything anymore. The NZ Energy Strategy was binned, the Sustainable Cities Programme went west, ICLEI and the Climate Change office – gone. Government instead focused on economic growth by any means and at any (environmental, social, and cultural) cost, and on consolidation and making big businesses even bigger (etc).

Patrick Crawshaw: Yes, I think F.N.D.C. should lead the way in mitigating the impact of climate change.

Dave Hookway: Yes most definitely.

Harko Brown: Council can be proactive by taking regard for rising sea-levels in their legislation and planning. To me such recognition and advocacy is a means for safeguarding our people and their properties in the Far North. It is also a way to protect needless wastage of rates. Why build a roadway, or rubber stamp as housing development, along a coastline when the future projections say it will be flooded in twenty years?

Peter Gill (Mayoral Candidate): Yes, I do believe that. I have even debated the idea of attending election meetings that I have been invited to in places such as Whatuwhiwhi on the end of the Karikari Peninsular, based on carbon miles. An educated guess told me that I might get 18 in the audience. Thus the carbon miles travelled were about 11km per person attending. As someone who IS interested in the issue of carbon foot print, I cannot be seen to be racking up that amount of carbon just to try to get myself elected. I have proposed other ways, such as Skype, to the people there. Council changing to electric cars? Not quite yet. Their range is a bit restricted for a territory this big. As a motoring writer, I feel safe in saying this. (Authority: Peter Gill, HarperCollins book "Ten Times Round The Clock", and founder of the NZ Motoring Writers Guild). Charging stations are happening, and will continue to do so. Kawakawa has one now, Paihia is may already have happened.

Steve McNally: Did not respond.

Willow-Jean Prime: Did not respond.

John Carter (Mayoral Candidate): Did not respond

If you think that it is important what do you think that Council should do about it if you were elected?

Tania McInnes: Council needs to develop clear policy, based on sound research and after it has consulted with the community.

Fred Terry: (refer to Fred's response to the first question).

Ann Court: (refer to Ann's response to the first question)

Jane Johnston: tAs a critical first step I would seek to have a CEO appointed who understands the important role of a local authority in driving the necessary systemic changes needed to support communities to take a more sustainable pathway into the future. I would argue a necessity to have “implementing corporate responsibility” - to reduce the organisations environmental footprint and to promote beneficial social outcomes and local economic advantages - included as a key task and link it to their Key Performance Indicators and make it a core part of their performance review. I would argue to peg the CEOs performance pay to delivering a much more efficient, effective AND sustainable organisation.... nothing like what we’ve got now. I would work to have a sustainability manager appointed to benchmark the organisations environmental, social and economic (efficiency) performance – and seek to have 6 monthly progress reports (triple bottom line monitoring and reporting), and have Councillors set targets for the organisation performance against the triple bottom lines. I would drive a cultural change, to reduce, reuse, recycle in all aspects of ‘how’ people perform their role. Every council that has undertaken an energy audit and had an energywise officer appointed has saved significantly more money than they spent on having that person on the staff. They need to keep at it, as staff fall back into old bad habits until it is entrenched into the culture as a new way of behaving. I would push to establish sustainable procurement policies – even for inclusion in tender and contracting arrangements (to compel change of everyone Ratepayers are paying to work for them) AND concurrently would establish a Corporate sustainable practices manual. I’m also a strong advocate of ‘buy local’ to support small local businesses (not just big firms – from Aussie or Auckland or wherever), even for roading maintenance! And, I would argue to have a bunch of jobs internalised again – council workers filing in the pot holes, and driving the grader to re-grade local unsealed roads, spreading the gravel and mowing the verges. It is not a cost savings to have one big contracting firm doing the whole District or Region – that’s a myth promulgated by the amalgamation-consolidation cheerleaders. Amalgamation hasn’t been making anything cheaper or more efficient when done to Government agencies, or in relation to the local government sector. It has delivered the opposite (but has generated profits for a few – you might want to check out how much Transfield returned to its shareholders last year). I would promote the opposite – dispersal of workers into the communities they serve, and localism. Town handypeople/work gangs if you will – tasked with maintaining and fixing everything that needs doing in these small towns – unless it really is a big job – which might require greater expertise and access to equipment etc not needed all the time. The roving worker gang – for the big jobs – and nothing wrong with contracting an expert to work with communities from time to time for the rarer jobs (like designing a new sewage scheme). I would promote and participate in structure planning with communities to ensure these factor in sustainability criteria in the design. Sustainability does demand planning to retrofit existing places, structures and systems and feeding into the next iteration of asset management plans (and consequently into annual plans and long term plans), and also into the review of the District Plans. Council is THE regulator of land use activities – and can have a lot of influence on what ought to be allowed to take place where and how – this is a fundamental CRITICAL role in providing for more sustainable development.

Patrick Crawshaw: A more sustainable approach to everything we do is needed. Electric cars are a good start and the development of Ngawha as a renewable energy industrial park would help too. I think we should be rewarding people who want to reduce their electricity bills by installing solar energy, not penalising them.

Dave Hookway: Council should take the lead in waste management – taking back private contracts and re-employing local people to recycle as much waste as possible – with the aim of reducing landfill mass – and consequential gases. It should assess its current carbon footprint and seek community input as to the level of change they would like – and fund where necessary.

Harko Brown: To sensibly work with other organisations and interest groups in our region to plan for future rising sea levels and to work to mitigate our enormous production of CO2 by advocating for businesses, productions and initiatives which produce low levels of CO2. Climate change was a hot topic when I was a lecturer at Waikato University, some sixteen years ago, and I can’t say I see much in our council literature that gives proper credence to this phenomenon. We need knowledgeable fresh faces on council who are up to date with this topic and who have worked around the country with organisations to plan for futurescapes.

Peter Gill (Mayoral Candidate): See response to first question

Steve McNally: Did not respond.

Willow-Jean Prime: Did not respond.

John Carter (Mayoral Candidate): Did not respond

Would you support Council changing its cars to electric vehicles?

Tania McInnes: Yes

Fred Terry:? Not in the near future, but would consider replacement of vehicles when and after, commercial interests have established a reliable network of electric charging stations

Ann Court: The decision on which vehicles to purchase is a management tool based on affordability, practicality, procurement, maintenance, fit for purpose, serviceability to name but a few of the assessment tools. If Electric Vehicles meet the tests and can be supported (and they wont be for every use) then yes - but I wouldn't want to be in a position of instructing the management about what type of vehicles to purchase - My short answer is if they are suitable and affordable then our policy should provide for Management to consider them as an option.

Jane Johnston: Yes I would – this is precisely the sort of ‘leading by example’ that a council tasked with promoting sustainable management under the RMA should do. I would also remove provision of a corporate car and fleet petrol card as part of salary packages – as that perk dis-incentivises personal responsibility to reduce use (waste). For example, there are staff with corporate cars driving 1.5 to 2hrs from home to work and back each day. That is a travesty not only for the planet, but for our people given the majority of our ratepayers live with fuel poverty and don’t drive unless they have to. The simple step of taking away this perk would see staff moving closer to their place of work, or carpooling. Or - provide them with electric cars!

Patrick Crawshaw:Yes, absolutely

Dave Hookway: Yes – where similar vehicles are available.

Harko Brown: Isn’t it weird that we have been side-tracked for over a century by running our vehicles on fossil fuels. Cars were originally powered by electricity then industrialists stepped in and ruined that progression. Yes definitely lets get back to electric cars and their low CO2 footprint.

Peter Gill (Mayoral Candidate): See response to first question.

Steve McNally: Did not respond.

Willow-Jean Prime: Did not respond.

John Carter (Mayoral Candidate): Did not respond

Would you support Council putting in some electric charging stations placed strategically in our district at Council facilities?

Tania McInnes: Yes, I have already advocated for this.

Fred Terry: This is not the responsibility or core function of local govt. This is a commercial interest

Ann Court: Electricity Supply Companies are best placed to lead this however there should be opportunities presented to encourage installation at public facilities - this can be via policy development that encourages the opportunity rather than the direct provision of the infrastructure at a cost to the ratepayer.

Jane Johnston: Absolutely – why haven’t they done this already, when we have a growing group of citizens with these cars who we should be supporting as change agents.

Patrick Crawshaw: Yes

Dave Hookway: Yes if these were for Council vehicles. For public vehicles analysis would be necessary to locate such where accessible and practicable for users.

Harko Brown: Hats off to those leaders in our communities who are promoting electric transport. We have a lot to learn from overseas but without those few we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. Yes, definitely more charging stations! Electricity prices are abhorrent in the Far North so along with such an initiative I would like to see council also petition Government for more equitable prices for our people. I think we have been cleverly side-tracked by media interests who blame poverty on gambling, drugs, alcohol etc when I feel such commodities as incredibly high power charges are the real culprits. Imagine if households didn’t have to pay $100 or more per week on basic power usage how much freed-up money there would be for families to comfortably cover essentials such as medicines, food, transport and clothing.

Peter Gill (Mayoral Candidate): See response to first question.

Steve McNally: Did not respond.

Willow-Jean Prime: Did not respond.

John Carter (Mayoral Candidate): Did not respond


Kerikeri / Waipapa Structure Plan

What is your view of the usefulness of the Kerikeri/Waipapa Structure Plan and why do you hold this view?

Tania McInnes: I think it is important work, with community involvement. I believe it needs to be reviewed. I support the development of a clear strategic plan for the whole of the Far North. One that clearly aligns with community aspirations and ensures we look after our place and our people for generations to come.

Fred Terry:The Kerikeri/Waipapa Structure Plan is useful, but should become a ‘living document’ to be constantly updated to meet the rapid growth and economic links between the two communities

Ann Court: This has always been one of my babies so I hold it very dear to my heart. It needs a review to test that many of its assumptions are still valid and this project is underway albeit it is still in its infancy. Given Kerikeri's incredible growth then some serious consideration needs to be given to the plans vision and to the provision of core infrastructure.

Jane Johnston: I think it is very useful as it represents a concerted effort at forward planning for this area, and a great deal of participation by the community. The travesty is that it was not translated into a sequenced work programme to be incorporated into all the relevant asset management plans – and ways and means developed for delivering key aspects of it – by the Council and, where able to, in partnership with the community (e.g. Business Association, Vision Kerikeri). I do think it needs to be reviewed now however, assumptions tested and new ones developed and to re-engage with the community as it is now. In other words, it needs a refresh – and thence to be actually translated into what is required to have it implemented. This work needs to be done urgently – to be able to feed into the District Plan review – particularly given new sewerage (etc) that changes the development potential or context.

Patrick Crawshaw: I think it is important to the future of Kerikeri to be prepared to enable expansion in a coherent way. Good town planning is crucial and we run a very big risk of sleep-walking into a very big mess in Kerikeri where big business and commercial interest take over against the communities wishes and thus creating a very unattractive place in which to live; Where signs (you can already see this in Waipapa) become the archtiecture, traffic becomes unbearable and Kerikeri becomes one large urban sprawl engolfing Waipapa and all the fertile land in its wake.

Dave Hookway: I have lived and operated my business in Waipapa for 21 years. I think the original 2007 plan was quite comprehensive and made many vital recommendations which have been frustratingly ignored. I appreciate it recognises that the role of Council is more than just “roads and sewerage” (as most other candidates espouse) and that people and community facilities are central to the Plan. This is what makes it most relevant. It also supports youth facilities which are urgently needed to keep kids out of trouble. Overall, it takes a well-founded public health approach to community development. A healthy community is a strong community.

Harko Brown: Such a plan is essential for the continued growth of this area. A big emphasis here on water supply and sewerage disposal.