Future of Housing in Gisborne

Our house at 21 Cambridge Tce when we bought it in 2004.

Housing advocates in Gisborne are welcoming government plans to encourage more community owned social housing and plan to share their reaction to the recently released Housing Shareholders Advisory Group report with East Coast MP Anne Tolley at a meeting on Friday.

“If the Minister of Housing is serious about ensuring every person and family has access to affordable, healthy and appropriate housing then we need the kind of innovation and resources that communities can offer and not just the state” said Manu Caddie.

Mr Caddie is the Convenor of Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group (THAG), a network of community groups, government agencies, businesses and individuals with an interest in regional housing issues.

“What we don’t want to see is government offloading its housing responsibilities onto communities that are not prepared for the challenges of housing provision. We desperately need a regional housing plan that identifies the most pressing issues and how those needs can be addressed with a mix of public, private and philanthropic investment. Then we need to look at building the capacity and business plans for one or more organisations to meet the needs.”

Mr Caddie said he was disappointed to receive a letter from Minister of Housing, Phil Heatley, which said Housing NZ should not be helping regions to identify housing needs in local communities.

“If the Minister wants social housing providers to ‘step up’, there will have to be a period of Housing NZ supporting local infrastructure to develop” said Mr Caddie.

Last week the meeting of Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group discussed plans to establish a social housing trust that could provide emergency accommodation to people made homeless or otherwise forced to live in substandard housing. Without any resourcing to establish such an entity it would be difficult to ensure it is sustainable in the long run.

“It’s easy to say sell off Council’s pensioner flats to a housing trust but developing expertise to manage social housing will take some time and expertise.”

“Housing Cooperatives are very popular in the United Kingdom and the United States, if individual home ownership is not an option for some people then becoming shareholders in a group of properties can foster skills and a change in attitude as co-owners take more responsibility for our own housing needs.”

Mr Caddie said housing advocacy is also a big need in the Gisborne region and that would be another key role for a social housing trust.

“We are currently looking into the viability of local or national legislation that would require every rental property to pass a simple Warrant of Fitness before it can be let.”

Some Gisborne families rent unsafe, unhealthy homes and have few, if any, alternatives.

“The majority of landlords are decent, generous people, but a few refuse to repair run down properties – that can cause a lot of misery and leads to other problems for vulnerable individuals and families.”

THAG discussed Housing NZ waiting lists at its meeting and agreed that compared to larger centres Gisborne has relatively low waiting lists, some of this is because family connections mean there may be more sharing of space available and in remote rural areas housing needs often remain unnoticed by officials.

Another issue THAG is looking into is the possibility of putting a social benefit weighting on state house sales which were also flagged in the Housing Shareholders Advisory Group report.

The THAG meeting discussed a situation last month where a community group tendered for a state house in an unpopular street with the intention of establishing a computer clubhouse, homework centre and neighbourhood meeting space. The tender was won by a private investor who plans to rent out the property.

“It’s stupid that current policy means Housing NZ cannot consider the value a community centre would have added to a neighbourhood desperately short of public amenities to be worth more than the small difference in tender price” said Mr Caddie.

Mr Caddie said THAG will be looking at options for Housing NZ Regional Managers to have more discretion in considering tenders from first home owners, owner-occupiers, social housing providers and charitable community groups alongside private investors.

Our house in 2010... new roof, paint, windows, kitchen, etc.

Big Society – Big Community


David Cameron re-launched his Big Idea this week. The new British prime minister says the ‘Big Society’ concept is about empowering communities, redistributing power and fostering a culture of volunteerism. In a speech in Liverpool, Cameron said community groups should be able to run post offices, libraries, transport services and shape housing projects. While one motive for the Tory version of ‘people power’ is obviously to help lower Britain’s debt which is spiralling out of control, I think there is some substance in the plan.

Modern society has turned many aspects of our lives into commodities. Citizens have been replaced by consumers and nearly all our relationships are mediated by the market. In the market-based society we earn money to pay other people to care for our young and elderly, we become slaves to debt, and outsource our responsibilities. Families become less important and effective and neighbourhoods lose their ability to function properly.

Gisborne has much to offer the rest of the world, and it’s not just a wall of wood, wine or wool. What we can offer is a healthy model of true community – and we are not too far from manifesting that goal.

I was so encouraged to see the big turnout this week to a presentation by historian Jane Luiten on the history of local government on the East Coast. The diversity of our community was represented in the 60 or so people from all walks of life who came to hear some challenging stories from our local history. The interest in this topic from young and old, Maori and Pakeha and new immigrants gave me a deep sense of optimism for the future of our community.

There are a few simple truths that citizens of Gisborne can hold on to if we want to be a place where more people love to live. Our neighbourhoods are the primary source of our health as a community. Whether we are safe and secure in our neighbourhoods is largely within our control. In our neighbourhoods, towns and villages we have the power to build a resilient economy. We are local people who must raise our children.

We live in a democracy, a political system that gives us the freedom to choose a common vision and then make choices that bring that vision into being. But the institutions we look to, whether they are government and its agencies, businesses and the ‘free’ market or civil society organisations cannot make us into a community. Only families and neighbourhoods acting together can create a sense of belonging, unconditional care and acceptance, trust and support.

Community organiser John McKnight suggests a community becomes powerful when three things are happening:

The Giving of Gifts: The gifts of people in our neighbourhood are boundless, every single person has something of value to contribute to our wellbeing.

The Presence of Association: Through association our gifts can be shared, celebrated and magnified and become productive.

The Compassion of Hospitality: There are no strangers here, only friends who haven’t met – we welcome the gifts of new people and need to share our own with them.

The characteristics of the Big Society may also be those of an abundant, healthy community: kindness, generosity, cooperation, forgiveness and the acceptance of fallibility. These virtues aren’t delivered by the market, or by government or local body organisations. They come from within us and could become what makes Gisborne a fantastic place to live.

Critical Mass Cycling Group Submission on Draft Annual Plan

The Gisborne Herald reported on 18 May 1952 that Gisborne had 13,000 cyclists out of a population of 20,000!

Critical Mass members delivering our Annual Plan submission to GDC, March 2010

We are a group of commuter cyclists interested in making it easier and safer for Gisborne residents to choose cycling for most of our trips within the city.

We commend the Council for undertaking the development of a number of cycle-lanes on roads through the city.

Experts predict that the price for a barrel of oil may be at US$100 per barrel by June of this year, with further rises up to $150 a barrel in the next five years and possibly up to $350/barrel by 2020.

These changes will mean that even one car is considered a luxury. While cars are, and will be, important to the regional transport strategy (whatever they run on), Council should be considering public transport and alternative transport possibilities, and acting now to ensure they can be implemented when required in the future.

We support the vision of a city linked by green corridors which connect the neighbourhoods of the city, and heritage/leisure destinations. Gisborne is ideally suited for bicycles and walking and this should be encouraged as it is sustainable, good for health, and attractive for tourists and future residents. We support current efforts to educate and encourage all road users to share the road and to think of others safety at all times.

The great cycling-centric cities of Europe have only been designed this way through the concerted and sustained efforts of the public, politicians, planners and engineers.

We encourage Council to continue working with the Cycling Advisory Group to identify priority activities that contribute to the group’s vision of “Tairawhiti leading the way: where people choose to cycle, where people come to cycle.” We note the progress made on priority issues as a result of CAG working collaboratively with stakeholders on:

  • roundabouts
  • identification of new cycleway options and promoting key urban and rural cycling routes
  • vehicle driver education and safety for school and commuter cyclists

With estimates of over 3,000 bicycle trips in Gisborne per day and roughly half of these are school students, we recommend Council monitor the number of cycles in school bike racks over a three year period and work with CAG to identify barriers to cycling and implement with community leadership, actions likely to increase the number, frequency and duration of student cycle trips.

We draw attention to proposals for cycleway options on the Gladstone Road bridge and the possibility of a boardwalk cycle/walkway along the Taruheru River from Lytton Road to the CBD and request staff be directed to establish a cost estimate for both projects. We also ask for GDC to  work with the Gisborne Cycling & Walkways Trust to make an approach to Eastland Community Trust and Eastern & Central Community Trust for funding to complete the Wainui-Sponge Bay cycleway.

Given recent changes in central government policy on transport subsidies, it seems timely to undertake a review of the priorities of the Walking & Cycling Strategy and new sources of funding for major projects, we suggest this be included in the Annual work plan for GDC.

Manu Caddie; Michelle Hight & Bradley O’Donnel; Gillian Ward; Richard Coates; Ross Revington; Sarah Cleave; Bob Hughes; Norman Weiss & Diana Whakapapa.

Regional Cycling Vision

Congratulations to Kim Smith, Hans van Kregten and the other Council staff for the Eastland Traverse being selected to proceed to the next stage for consideration as part of the Prime Minister’s National Cycleways Project.

The quality of the proposal reflects the input from tourism operators, cycling advocates, DOC, councillors and our friends on the other side of the Waioweka Gorge. If we can get this cycleway established it will be a significant visitor attraction, supporting economic development all along the route and into the city all year round.

While there are no guarantees that the Eastland Traverse will receive central government funding, it is still a good example of what can happen when local government works collaboratively with the community to develop the best options for the region. The costs of improving the signage and a few bridges on the Opotiki side are a fraction of other cycleway proposals and offer great value for a small investment of public funds.

The establishment of the Cycling Advisory Group one year ago was fortuitous as we have been able to provide Council and other stakeholders in the region’s transport systems with timely advice on a range of issues and plans.

Making it easy and safe for people to cycle to work and school is one of the key goals of the Cycling Advisory Group. Driver and cyclist education, road design – particularly roundabouts and key areas around schools are all activities that the Cycling Advisory Group has assisted local authorities with over the past year.

This week we are looking at how cities in Europe have changed the way they think about roads and set targets for increasing the proportion of short trips that are made by cycling instead of driving.

Gisborne District, Northland and Taranaki now share the lowest rates of cycling in the country. People living in Christchurch cycle more than ten times as often as we do. I suspect we don’t have ten times the crash rate as them. What is our vision for our city and how does more cycling and walking (which we also follow the rest of the country in) fit into the urban design of Gisborne?

In Wellington the Council has a goal of 15% of commuters cycling by 2016 – Gisborne has a much more compact city, few hills and much better weather, so this could be a goal that we aspire to surpass within the same timeframe.

Establishing safer cycling routes is a priority for the Cycling Advisory Group and we welcome suggestions from the public on how to improve hot spots. Our monthly meetings are open to the public and limited to one hour over lunchtime. Together we are crafting a vision for cycling in Gisborne and everybody has a part to play in this process.

My Priorities

These are the things I think are important and would strive to promote if I was elected to Council next year…

  1. A region that values the rich traditions and diversity of all its residents.
  2. A region of safe communities based on caring relationships between families.
  3. A region that fosters innovation, enterprise, the creative sectors and scientific discovery.
  4. A region that nurtures well-educated young people and leaves no one behind.
  5. A region that is a magnet for young families and values the contributions of older people.
  6. A region that will leave the natural environment better than we found it.
  7. A region that is committed to ensuring housing, energy and healthy food are affordable and that supports families to manage their finances wisely.
  8. A region that understands the importance of increasing the economic productivity and sustainability of agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
  9. A region that promotes the use of cycling and walking for most people making short journeys.
  10. A region that is well connected with the rest of the planet through low-cost, high-speed, internet access.
  11. A Council that encourages public participation in decision-making.
  12. A Council that is able to keep any rates increases at (or below) the rate of inflation while still providing quality services and infrastructure.

Committee Decision-Making

hcw_main_image

The Environment and Policy Committee meeting I attended this week was a great example of how slack politicians can increase social problems.

Last month the Committee was presented with a paper advising them that the Law Commission is undertaking a review of alcohol legislation and the issue has considerable impact on our local communities.

The Committee agreed that a public meeting would be hosted by GDC to workshop the issues with interested people including representatives from owners of liquor outlets, health services,  Police, community workers, Council staff and whoever else was interested.

Pat Seymour and Andy Cranston were the only two Councillors to attend the workshop along with the other people mentioned above. The meeting over two hours was based on good information, followed by healthy debate that arrived at consensus on each one of many points ensuring Council staff drafting the submission had confidence that the process had been open and thorough.

People attending the meeting used the Law Commission’s 280 page discussion document that presents the hard facts as the starting point for commentary on the issues. Local examples were used to back up the evidence presented in the discussion document and it was hard to find any situations that contradicted the document’s findings.

A submission based on the agreements reached at the workshop was presented back to the Committee this week at which four of the six members decided to vote against the submission.

Only one of the four Councillors objecting had her copy of the Discussion Document present and based on their comments and criticisms it seemed obvious that either two or three of the other Councillors had not even read the document. Those Councillors that had not read the Discussion Document, had also not participated in the public workshop and had not contacted staff after they received the draft submission to discuss any matters of concern. As a result of their problems with the submission the Councillors were allowed to have a private session with staff the next day to take out the parts of the submission they were not happy with.

With due respect to Councillor Seymour, who has shown great leadership on this issue and who has had to deal with poor behaviour from the majority in this case, I don’t think the outcome was the best we could have had and the community has been let down again by those making important decisions on our behalf.

The problem I have with this kind of process is that it rewards laziness and arrogance amongst some Councillors. As a result, the majority of Committee Members (who did not take up the opportunities to participate in an agreed process) have dictated that a much watered-down submission is going to be put before the full Council for their consideration one day before the deadline for submissions. While the GDC submission is only one of hundreds, it should have been able to promote well considered options that do justice to the level of concern our community has about access to and use of alcohol, particularly amongst young people – and now it will not.

I hope more members of the public find an hour or two to sit in on one of these meetings and reflect on the quality of decisions that are being made on our behalf. I believe we can do much better than what we have at present.

Transition Tairawhiti?

TTmed

About 15 people in Gisborne met on 24 August 2009 and agreed that it would be good to see Gisborne/Tairawhiti become a ‘Transition Town’.

Most of the group have read the book and are committed to forming a steering group that plans it’s own demise, sees the community run their ideas, etc.

We are keen to build on the success of the World Environment Day event in Gisborne this year and build a wide support base across the community to promote the Transition Towns principles and inclusive action for positive change.

– – – –

POSTSCRIPT: Check out the TT website with resources and events at: www.transitiontowns.org.nz/gisborne

 

 

Council Draft 10 Year Plan Submissions

Here are some of the submissions I helped prepare on the Council’s Draft 10 Year Plan – opportunities to speak to the submissions come up in early June:

‘Constructive’ first Cycling Advisory Group meeting

cag-meeting

The first meeting of a new advisory group for cycling is being described as ‘constructive’ by local cyclists and the Gisborne District Council.

About 30 people representing diverse sectors of the Gisborne community attended the Cycling Advisory Group meeting hosted by Gisborne District Council. Mayor Meng Foon and Councillor Kathy Sheldrake were present along with commuter and recreational cyclists, Gisborne Cycle Club representatives, staff from local schools and Trustees of the Gisborne Cycle and Walkway Trust.

The meeting discussed and refined a draft Terms of Reference which describes the purpose of the group, clarifies that the group has no authority over Council decisions and activities and outlines the frequency and format of meetings.

Kathy Sheldrake nominated Manu Caddie to Chair the group, this was supported by Muriel Jones from the Gisborne Cycle and Walkway Trust and endorsed by those present. It was agreed that subcommittees will be established to work on particular issues such as promoting cycling, cycleways and road safety – and that a lot of good work had already been undertaken by Council and groups like the Trust.

The group agreed to meet monthly with roundabouts being an initial focus. Organisations involved with the new group will provide short presentations on their current activities and priorities for cycling in Gisborne at the April meeting.

Council keen to make cycling safer in Gisborne

A Cycling Advisory Group is being established by the Gisborne District Council to work together with the community on cycling issues in the city.

The idea for the group followed a request by the Critical Mass cycling group for the council to improve safety and grow the numbers of cyclists in Gisborne.

The terms of reference for the group will be established at its first meeting. This will be held on 25 March at 12 noon at the Gisborne District Council offices in Fitzherbert Street.

Organisers hope it will include representatives from a range of cycling interests including schools and the police.

The overall purpose of the group will be to provide advice on how to make cycling safer and encourage more people to use the facilities of the walking and cycling network being created by council. They will also have input into the Walking and Cycling Strategy. The group will work closely with the Road Safety Officer from council and the Traffic and Education Officers from the police.

One of the first tasks will be to look at cyclist safety at roundabouts. Council’s Engineering Manager Peter Higgs says “this is a great opportunity to work together with the community. As with many issues, the solutions are likely to be a combination of actions including the three “Es” – engineering, education and enforcement.

The safety of cyclists is a matter for which all road users have a responsibility” Manu Caddie, one of the Critical Mass organisers, says he is pleased to see council willing to establish a mechanism for ongoing dialogue with the cycling community.

“Beyond making the streets safer for cycling we are keen to see proactive measures in place to encourage more people to move around by bicycle.” “One of our older members only had to fill up his car twice last year because he cycles most places.

Cycling has environmental, health and economic benefits that council and other organisations need to promote.” “We encourage all cyclists to come along to this meeting.” says Mr Caddie.

Letter to the Editor 09/02/09

I wonder if the 75% of your online poll respondents who claim to support the death penalty ‘for the most brutal murderers’ would count themselves among those murderers if such a useless piece of legislation were to be adopted in this country.

The real psychopaths are the people who refuse to accept the overwhelming international evidence that punitive punishment does not deter serious offending. A recent study from California demonstrated that state murder rates were nearly twice as high during years in which the death penalty was carried out and the average rate of homicides increased in the month immediately following an execution.

I find it odd that the Gisborne Herald even asks the question – there are a lot more useful questions that could be asked which might address the causes of crime and questions of responsibility and attribution, rather than this kind of sensationalist polemic that promotes simplistic and/or disingenuous responses to complex and multidimensional issues.

While there are no quick and easy answers to the problem of violence in our society (at least not without radical reorientation of our relationships to one another and natural resources), capital punishment can safely be ruled out as being a sensible solution.

Can we get a Regional Youth Plan?

drive-by1

Saying parents need to take responsibility for the violent behaviour of their children, as Education Minister Anne Tolley recently did, is like suggesting a tree needs to take responsibility for the type of fruit it produces.

Just blaming schools or parents is not going to help anyone.While there are significant issues in the attitudes and skill levels of many parents and teachers, without a local plan to address the range of factors that lead to violent behaviour amongst children we will continue to see children dropping out of school.

It would be helpful to see a commitment from the new government to supporting a comprehensive local plan to develop pro-social skills in young children regardless of the competency levels of their parents or teachers.

Such a plan would include strategies for supporting long-term mentoring relationships with caring adults who can see the potential in each child, it would include more resources and information for parents and better monitoring by funders of initiatives like Social Workers in Schools that are supposed to be supporting both the home and school.

Recent international research that suggests the most important things parents can do to keep their children out of trouble is to spend time doing things that the whole family enjoys.

In order of importance, the next three most important things parents can do are:

–           to know where their children are and who they are spending time with;

–           to support children to get involved with pro-social peers through groups like sports, church and kapahaka; and

–           to keep their children connected to school.

Every young person needs a strong sense of belonging to a group of people, a sense of mastery and being good at something, a sense of being independent and a sense of contributing to their community.

If they don’t find these things at home or school they will look to their peer group to provide guidance on what is acceptable and unacceptable. The difficulty is that these young people are often also disconnected from home, school and their cultural and geographic communities.

Having been involved in a range of youth development research projects in Gisborne over the past five years, I’m still waiting for local and national leaders to make any significant commitment to a coordinated regional plan for the wellbeing of children and young people.

Positive Ageing

I spoke at the Positive Ageing Expo last week and read from the draft Positive Ageing in Action Accord:

“Positive ageing in Tairawhiti will only become a reality when society respects all seniors, values their knowledge, wisdom and skills, and acknowledges the considerable contributions they make to family and community life…

“For positive ageing in Tairawhiti to become a reality, people of all ages must acquire deep respect for the dignity of seniors and the wisdom they have gained from many years of experience. Our history resides in their memories.

ACTIONS:

3. Promote inter-generational programmes in schools and communities to overcome ageist stereotypes, build inter-generational bonds and enhance the understanding of a wide range of historical topics, social issues and cultural perspectives.

I said I thought these statements and the proposed action should be much earlier on in the document as I think attitudes in the wider society present the biggest challenge and opportunity to realising positive ageing for everyone.

By the time I am 65 years old there will be twice as many people aged over 65 as there are today. Our country and community will see this as a great opportunity only when we all appreciate the treasure that our elders are to us and the world. The ageing population is not a liability, and not a problem to be solved – it is something we need to plan for but it is about realising the value in every person who has a story to tell, critical perspectives on a wide range of issues and experiences that we all need to learn from as we honour those passing on and those still to come.

Cycle-Centric City?

In response to a request from the 900 members of the cycling-stakeholder mailing list held by GDC, I made these comments: 

 – – – – – –

In my submission to the GDC Annual Plan earlier this year (before I had decided to stand for Council) I included the following recommendations:

Bi-cycling, Public Transport & Carbon Neutrality

Recommendation:

  • That GDC increase the number of cycle lanes and include space for bi-cycles on all road bridges in the city.
  • That GDC provide more incentives for people to use public transport and reduce reliance on private motor-vehicles within the city areas.
  • That GDC provide more incentives for people to use bi-cycles and horses for transport in rural townships.
  • That GDC adopt a goal of being a ‘Carbon Neutral’ region and develop an action plan to achieve this by 2012.
  • That GDC adopt a goal of being a ‘Carbon Neutral’ organisation and develop an action plan to achieve this by 2010.

Rationale:

The future of humanity and a number of other species is threatened with extinction if we do not change our behaviour and it is the responsibility of community leaders to demonstrate through their influence and decisions a commitment to a sustainable future for present and future generations.

– – – – – –  

Thinking about it a bit more, I should have added other rationale including:

  • the health benefits of cycling over car use from more physical and less sedentary activity;
  • the social benefits of cycling as an opportunity to meet neighbours and other commuters;
  • the economic benefits of being less dependent on oil, reduced road maintenance costs and reduced vehicle fuel/maintenance costs – and the increased ability of people to maintain their own transportation;
  • the environmental benefits of improved air quality, less noise pollution and a greener city overall.
  • the safety benefits of fewer accidents as cyclists have to contend with fewer ‘motorised missiles on wheels’.

I spoke to my submission in front of the full Council and when asked about these recommendations I talked about the danger I have experienced trying to negotiate Wainui Road and the Gladstone Road Bridge on bicycle – also some of the country roads could be made much safer for cyclists with a few simple measures like the “One metre bubble” warning signs that we see around Whakatane and other places that value the safety of cyclists.  

– – – – – – 

Q. Would you actively pursue policies that would enable utility cycling to develop along the lines that have made it the transportation mode of choice for so many in Copenhagen?

As shown above I have been advocating for these already and would be VERY interested in working with the ‘cycle lobby’ to access good quality research and case studies that make strong economic, environmental, social and health arguments for improving the region for cyclists.

Q. Would you lobby to rescind the law that compels cyclists to wear helmets in order to make it discretionary on the rider (as it is wherever utility cycling is well-established ) ?

I would like to read the research on how much protection helmets actually afford cyclists. I know for me, the incoinvenience of wearing a helmet is a significant disincentive to ride. On the other hand until we force cars to slow down or set and reach a goal of having at least 30% of traffic in the city by bicycle, it may be that helmets continue to protect cyclists from the dangers of inconsiderate, dangerous or absent-minded motorists.

Q. Would you give preference to a comprehensive network of cycle lanes over retaining the right to curbside parking?

Definitely.

Q. Would you lobby to rescind the law which prohibits cyclists from using pavements (at least as an interim measure for the years it will otherwise take to establish real separation from motorized vehicles)to enable ‘slow cyclists'(e.g.the elderly)to take up utility cycling?
 -Before you answer this question, next time you’re out driving, take note of how few pedestrians are actually using our pavements and keep in mind that there are places in the world where cyclists and pedestrians co-exist harmoniously in significantly greater numbers.

There are many opportunities for providing cycle ways on footpaths as they have in places like Tauranga and Wellington. I would be interested in learning more about the specific safety risks associated with this practice before saying yes I would lobby for to rescind the law. My only concern is the danger of vehicles reversing at speed from driveways, but the same danger is present whether the cyclist is on the road or footpath – just sometimes hedges and fences block drivers vision to the footpath and it is clearer by the time they get to the road.

Q. ‘Leaving it to the market to decide’ is not working as virtually none of New Zealand’s bicycle importers or retailers are taking the initiative to either promote or make available the types of bicycles and technologies which would make utility cycling practicable by a much broader range of people(e.g. the elderly ) or practical (e.g. for carrying children or shopping).

To ensure that fleets of utility bicycles become established throughout New Zealand’s urban areas, would you promote or support a campaign that will create awareness of utility cycling technologies among the public to help to stimulate consumer demand ?
e.g. actively lobby for the acquisition of a fleet of
utility bicycles for  council staff to get around town on.

Definitely. I would also support the establishment of neighbourhood bicycle workshops similar to the one my friends at 128 Abel Smith Street in Wellington provide. That way people can access specialised tools and replace parts from bicycles that are broken – it’s also a community-building opportunity in all sorts of ways .

Q. Would you lobby for the installation of bicycle racks on ALL public transport vehicles ?

Yes, I’m not sure why they don’t have them already!

Q. Do you cycle yourself? – And if not at this stage in your life, what would it take to get you to take up ‘utility’ cycling in the future ?

I own two bicycles, a Repco Victory Tri-A road bike that I bought off TradeMe. And a Healing Road/Mountain Bike that I got free with a video camera from Chris Fenn Appliances. I did a lot of riding a couple of years ago around the Poverty bay flats with my friend Dave Tims, and went on a few of the twilight bike rides with the club. Recently I haven’t been riding so much but having just got rid of one of our cars I am using the bike more. I also take my 5 year old daughter riding over on the courts/carpark at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae – she’s almost ready to loose the training wheels!

Q. Would you recommend that other people (children/ the elderly) cycle?

Definitely. I do have safety concerns for children – our neighbours kids wear fluoro jackets just to bike to school – they have to cross Wainui Rd. And my wife’s Uncle Dave is 80 years old and still rides his ten speed with turned up handle bars into town from Kaiti.

Do you care about the future of Gisborne?

I have been talking to lots of people lately about what kind of place we want Gisborne to be.

This is the kind of Gisborne that I want to live in :

–  GISBORNE as a model for the country and the world, demonstrating how people from different cultures can live together, accept each other and celebrate our ability to achieve great things as a united community

–  GISBORNE attracting world class scientists, artists, athletes and entrepreneurs who together create new knowledge, new understanding and new products for the benefit of people here and across the globe

–  GISBORNE developing carefully to ensure housing is affordable for both our elders and young families, where rates make up no more than 50% of Council income and debt is no longer a burden

–  GISBORNE as the most sustainable city in the world – producing safe high quality food, generating our own power and zero waste

–  GISBORNE people knowing our neighbours, feeling safe and taking pride in the quality of our relationships

If elected to Council I will work hard for the benefit of every person living in this region – regardless of race, gender, religion or socio-economic status.

In many ways I represent the future of this country. Within me I hold on to the best of my European and Maori heritage.

As a father, husband and self-employed businessman,  I know the importance of taking responsibility for myself and my family and for making a positive contribution to the community. I believe I have been a positive role model to other young people in our region.

Council needs to include a diverse range of people who understand the different communities that live and work in our district. I appreciate what is important to people with young families, so I have ideas about what is needed to get talented people to move back here.

People have said that I personify the potential of our region. I believe that every one of us have a crucial role to play – working together is the only way to realise the full potential of this great place we call home.

If you want people on Gisborne District Council who base their decisions on sound principles and good information, who can work well with a diverse range   of people and who are committed to a united community, then please help me make a real difference.

What about those of us who are NOT Maori?

As I have been talking to local residents over the past few weeks, a number of people have asked me this important question.

If elected to office I will work extremely hard for the benefit of every person living here – regardless of race, gender, religion or socio-economic status.

My mother is a fifth generation New Zealander. While our family has a rich history in this country as settlers and citizens, I am extremely proud of our deep roots in Scotland, Ireland and Spain.

I have been a strong advocate for Maori and young people – mostly because I think they get a raw deal sometimes and because unless we address some of the unmet needs that exist in our community, in 30 years time we will be in much the same place as we are today.

If Europeans had disproportionate rates of school failure, poor health and high crime rates – then I would be advocating for their rights and needs. Of course there are Europeans and other sectors of society who have real unmet needs – that is why I have been a strong advocate for children and young people – who don’t get a vote to choose the community leaders and who often ignored by decision-makers. Our elders, particularly those on the pension, people with disabilities and illness, single parents and people on low incomes all have significant needs that Council regularly overlook.

I believe we can get to a place where everyone has their basic needs met in this community – personal safety; affordable, healthy housing; and high quality education, employment and recreational opportunities.

As someone who understands both Maori and European worldviews, there have been many times when I have been able to bring diverse groups of people together, united under common values and working toward shared goals.

My wife and I are planning to living in the Gisborne region for the rest of our lives – this has to be the best place on Earth. We want to join with others and contribute in whatever small ways we can to making Gisborne even better!

What do I know?!

My wife and I are both 34 years old. We have two children. We both have bachelor degrees and post-graduate qualifications. We own two businesses and are involved in a wide range of local community organisations in addition to the marae committee, Kohanga Reo and the school our five year old daughter attends.

We are part of a demographic group that Gisborne needs to appeal to as a place to live and work.

Tarsh grew up around Tauwhareparae, Makarika and Kaiti. She left Gisborne during her last year at high school and went away to university. I grew up in Tauranga and did the same. We both ended up in Wellington and moved home 10 years ago to live with and care for Tarsh’s grandparents who raised her.

We understand what needs to change to make people like us want to move back to Gisborne to raise a family. We can count at least twenty outstanding individuals that we can claim some responsibility for influencing their decision to move to Gisborne over the past seven years.

I believe Council needs one or two people of my age and experience around the decision-making table. Some others need to move on!  

Working with teenagers for the last 15 years has given me a good insight into the way young people think about their future, their families, neighbourhoods and the wider community. I have recently been working with a local project that brings a group of elderly women and a group of teenage girls together regularly to learn from each other. This kind of interaction is what our community needs much more of and the positive outcomes flowing from these relationships will benefit generations to come. 

Living in a neighbourhood that even the pizza delivery people won’t come to has some good and not so good things about it. Every human being has an absolute right to personal safety and to know they are valued members of their community.

We all have contributions to make. Young people have idealism and energy, parents and working aged people provide social and economic security for the less enfranchised, people with physical and intellectual impairments teach all of us to appreciate whatever we have, elders provide their wisdom, knowledge and experience to guide the next generations. Maori and Pakeha share rich histories in this region, new immigrants bring fresh ideas and different ways of doing things that we can all benefit from if we value diversity and create an inclusive community.

As a self-employed researcher I like to have all the evidence before making a decision and I understand that there are pressures on this region that other areas of New Zealand do not experience as severely. I also recognise that for a large proportion of the world’s population, this place would be considered Paradise.

I was pleased to see the recent Rates Enquiry commissioned by central government recommended that rates make up no more than 50% of Council income. This signals some relief to rates rises as central government contributes more to costs incurred by local government. But the key I believe relies on us becoming more self-sufficient so that as a region we can rely less on external influences and develop the capacity and resources within the region to care for ourselves and make this the place we all know it has the potential to be.

For more information about my views on a wide range of issues visit my website: http://www.manu.org.nz (or invite me for dinner)

Council involvement in economic and community development

Councillors need to provide strategic leadership and decisions based on high quality information and long term goals that encourage wide understanding of and participation in the key drivers of economic wellbeing and community development.

Council staff have a facilitation role to increase cooperation within the region and advocacy capability and capacity on behalf of the region.

Council should be advocating for far more local accountability of public funds spent in the region but currently answerable only to Wellington.

The Council urgently needs a well considered policy statement and plan, developed in partnership with the community, for its role in Social Development. This could have a similar structure to the recently released Draft Economic Development Strategy (A Framework for Sustainable Prosperity) which provides an excellent overview of how Council can best contribute to ensuring a sustainable future for the region.

Gisborne Young People

Four years ago I helped organise the largest number of submissions on a single issue that Council received for the 10 year Long Term Council Community Plan. It basically asked Council to acknowledge only one thing – that young people are full citizens of our community. In the end only one line in the LTCCP referred to young people and it was silent on the recommendations made in the submissions.

Council does not need to provide facilities or events for young people as much as it needs to be asking itself how young people are thinking about and relating to their communities, how young people are organising themselves and under what circumstances young people are prepared to commit to the wellbeing and development of this region.

Rekindling intergenerational relationships are critical at this time – but those relationships must be based on mutual respect and appreciation of each others gifts and limitations.

I recently attended a planning meeting organised by GDC that considered what Gisborne would look like in 30 years time. There were less than five people aged under 30 years in a room of over 60 people. If young people are not actively involved in planning the future of the region now, they will have no ownership of the developments that occur and will join the masses leaving instead of contributing to a better future for all of us.

Infrastructure Priorities

– renewable and secure energy generation (electricity and fuel)

– safe, secure and affordable drinking water

– safe, healthy and affordable housing

– decent public transport, cycle-ways and pedestrian-friendly corridors

– robust flood and erosion protection

– well maintained roads