Local body elections; not the best elections, but the only one we’ve got for now

At the start of the run up to the local body elections here in Tauranga Moana, I had imagined providing a bit of a precis of all the candidates standing for the Tauranga City Council, for Tauranga mayor, the Regional Council and for the DHB. Then I started looking at Facebook pages and websites and reconsidered my plan in sympathy for my own sanity.

So regards people standing seats on the city council, regional council and DHB, I say, buyer beware: there are some very unbalanced people standing. Here are my own recommendations for the Tauranga City Council, Regional Council and DHB, devoid of any real argument or reasoning:

Tauranga City Council

Top pick: Antoine Coffin – he is my whanaunga, he’s a good listener, and he has a vision.
Kelvin Clout – there’s plenty we’d disagree on, but he want to spend some money on making it a modern city and to work with iwi, so he’d be alright.

Otumoetai-Pyes Pa – Sheldon Nesdale – young and energetic. Has lots of ideas. It’d be nice to have someone with ideas on the council.

Te Papa-Welcome Bay – Terry Molloy – a great community minded man. Will seriously look after our diverse community.

Bay of Plenty DHB

Geoff Esterman – you can have a good discussion and argument with him.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Mauao Māori Constituency – I’m not going to tell you. They’re both my whanaunga and I care about and admire them both in different ways. Up to you.

Tauranga General Constituency – Stu Crosby – I know, I know he sometimes seemed a little bland and passive, but he is a really good community leader and would do a good job.

Let us concentrate on who is vying to be the mayor of Tauranga City Council with Stu standing down. There are ten candidates. Here is my Totally Biased, Not Particularly Helpful Summary of the candidates and their positions on issues as far as I can ascertain:

Tauranga City Council Mayoral Race

Larry Baldock

Larry wants to see the CBD revitalised, but for less money and definitely none spent on a new TCC building. He really wants to four lane everything so you can drive everywhere. He mentions cycleways, park and ride, and light rail, but quickly gets back to cars. He also wants to “learn” from the Auckland experience by opening up more residential land so we too can enjoy the wonders of urban sprawl. Larry is also concerned you are being over charged and having to fill in forms; he will stop this by sending you one more form, a regular survey of your views with your rates notice.

Greg Brownless

Greg is also not a fan of rates or wasteful spending. He blames those naughty council staff. He will get them under control [whip, whip]. He’s a bit of a socialist, as he won’t sell off the infrastructure; indeed he is going to keep working on more infrastructure. Greg talks a lot about sensible and affordable things; roads and houses are two of those things. He’s also willing to support culture and sports if they are affordable and sensible. My favourite part of his list is his firm commitment to not build the council a palace. This is a good idea; palaces only attract absolute monarchs. Most bizarrely, he has quite a head of steam up about the Phoenix carpark in the Mount. That carpark better watch out.

Kelvin Clout

Kelvin had the comprehensive information. Lots of it was good and worth reading yourself. He’s big on economic growth and development. Strangely he is committing to phone businesses around the country to encourage them to move here; that’ll be an uncomfortable conversation for the teenage shift manager in the Countdown in Putaruru. I’m not convinced Kelvin quite gets how busy he will be if he is mayor; I don’t think he’ll have time to telemarket Tauranga to New Zealand.

Anyway, he also wants a lot of four lane roads, but he seems a bit more clued up about walking, biking, cycling, commuter trains, and a ferry service between the CBD and the Mount. That would be awesome. He wants a museum and BayPark to become “New Zealand’s adrenaline stadium.” I think that might be code for gladitorial matches. In fact, Kelvin wants to spend a heap of money on public facilities; I like it, but I think he might have to prioritise a little. He mentioned iwi relationships and co-governance and clearly understands there are significant issues around Te Maunga wastewater treatment plant; he has put a bit of time into learning some stuff here which is good to see.

He is the only one to mention climate change effects and the potential need for intensification and high rises in our growing city. I also liked his idea for a Mauao predator fence, phasing out chemical sprays and permaculture zones. A strong effort from Kelvin, though he’s probably listed a bit too much to be achievable.

Murray Guy

I like Murray. He’s like your rude uncle who complains about PC rubbish all the time and makes jokes you cringe at. When you Google him, bizarrely the search page comes up with pictures and the exact address of Murray’s house (Murray if you read this, I’d get rid of that for your own safety and sanity). He really needs a website; his Facebook page is stream of consciousness. All of his policy announcements have been through the media and frankly I don’t have time to trawl. Overall Murray hasn’t changed much over the years: he doesn’t want to spend money and he doesn’t want you to pay rates.

Hori Leaming

Hori keeps a strangely low profile; a minimal effort candidacy. He wants to do roads. That’s it. I guess it will help people get to Steamers games.

Max Mason

Unfortunately Max configured his websites certificates incorrectly so a firewall blocks his website. Anyway, he is supported by the rich philanthropists of our city like Paul Adams. He wants a museum, he wants to develop the CBD, but he also wants low rates. So he has a plan: he will get money from [drum roll please]… public/private partnerships! And funding agencies! Who are run by the same people who are supporting his candidacy. It’s like a small circle of mutual love.

Steve Morris

Steve’s website is amusingly titled “mysite” on Google. He also wants four laning everywhere. Uniquely, he wants to rebuild Coronation Pier, a town wharf. He also wants to complete something at Waiari water treatment plant. It sounds important, but I’d never heard of it. He adds in there the Te Maunga wastewater works and the southern pipeline, but didn’t seem cognizant of any iwi issues, so that should go really well. He also wants to reduce rates. The suggestion I really liked was his idea to cap the number of bottle stores in the city.

Doug Owens

Doug was thin on detail, but bold on using bold in his typeface, and he made sure he had lots of ads. Everywhere. Including on other peoples’ websites. Sharp man. Doug has gone for statements over detail like, think regionally act locally. He also wants to review everything. Seriously, he lists five reviews on his list of ten things to do. He is also keen to see people already doing things continue to do those things with the addition of photo opportunities for Doug.

Noel Peterson

Noel is apparently our green wizard. No-one in my house knew we even had a green wizard. Noel wants the environment to work better.

Graeme Purches

So Graeme is from Ngāi Tahu. Other than that, not a huge amount of detail, but he supports a long term vision. In a tricky move, he doesn’t outline exactly what that might be.

John Robson

John has an amazing poorly titled website jr4tcc13. He wants the Council to partner with developers, which put me off a bit because I don’t think developers need any more help than they are currently getting. Anyway, he had a few good statements about a diversified economic base and a modular waste system, and of course four laning. Everyone loves their four lane roads. He had the most comprehensive understanding of what working with iwi could contribute to the local economy and city culture, including a desire for bi-lingual signs and ensuring our Matariki festival was the best in the country. So I warmed to John.


There you go. I won’t tell you who to vote for here. After this exercise I’m less sure than I was before. The dearth of focus on climate change, iwi relationships, water quality and security, community development is a serious problem. Can any of these leaders prepare us for the challenges our city will face in the next 30 years? I don’t know. I’d also advise you don’t trust my summaries but look them up yourself. In any case, you probably should vote. It will make people sad if you don’t. Do it in front of a young person so they get interested in the idea; at least that will mean your vote means something.

3 thoughts on “Local body elections; not the best elections, but the only one we’ve got for now

  1. please don’t do the Western BOPDC candidates! I don’t think I could bear to read your comments on my ideas for council….but I did enjoy reading your summary of TCC. I’m voting Hylton Rhodes for DHB because he’s opposed to fluoridating/medicating your water supply.

    1. I promise not to do the Western BOP candidates. But I bet it would be fun; lots of rural material to work with.

  2. thanks, & if I get on to council, I always make time to read your insightful and thought provoking words. they sometimes put exactly what I am thinking into coherency, and sometimes you take my mind to a whole new place where it would never have gone on its own, and other times just getting some history perspective is valuable. and sometimes its just good to know what’s going down in Greerton. The WBOPDC elections seem to be dominated by the rate issues – I’m not taking that tack as I am just so grateful that someone else fills in the potholes and clean the local toilets that I don’t think to complain about having to pay a small percentage of it. I am more whinging about spraying the roadsides and school grounds etc with known carcinogens because ‘its cheap’, but then not factoring the cost to other organisations like DHB’s who have to deal with the associated health problems. Of course, I am worried about council debt to the private banking sector, which will be intergenerational (by design) and will cost us double or treble the original cost. And why won’t the govnt fund our infrastructure at very low interest or no interest loans like they used to? instead we end up with PPP which have been shown to be the most expensive way of paying for stuff, but it keeps the debt off council books, so we look good. oh dear, i’ve started – I’d better stop now…..any way thanks for your blogging, I do enjoy

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