East Coast, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti & Waiariki Polling Places Analysis

A review of the polling places results courtesy of the Electoral Commission website suggests what many of us suspect – inland rural communities tend to vote for parties like National and ACT while neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of Māori and coastal communities prefer the Green Party and Labour. Wainui is an interesting situation, the Greens did extremely well (21%), Labour quite poorly (12%) and National slightly higher (58%) than what they got across the rest of the country.  This is a significant change from the last election where there was much higher support in Wainui for National than Labour or Greens.

Results in the East Coast electorate polling places are as follows.

ACT got less than 1% of the party vote and did best in small rural communities like Whangara, Waimana, Whatatutu, Patutahi, Matawai but also had some support in Wainui and Riverdale.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party received less than half of one percent in East Coast but did best in Tolaga Bay, Waimana, Muriwai, Opotiki and Kawerau.

The new Conservative Party got just over 3% and did best in Manawahe, Woodlands (Opotiki), Whatatutu, Muriwai, Kawerau, Edgecumbe, Waimana and Matata.

The Green Party’s best polling places were Omaio, Kutarere, Omarumutu, Wainui (21%), Hicks Bay and five Gisborne city polling places all (12-15%) retruned higher than the national average Green support.

Labour did worst in places like Waimana, Raukokore, Warenga-a-Kuri, Matawai, Tiniroto, Ormond, Rere, Thornton, Makauri, Whangara and Wainui, and best in places like Ruatoki, Waikirikiri, Kaiti, Whatatutu, Elgin and Ruatoria.

Mana, NZ First and the Māori Party did well in the coastal communities like Tikitiki, Te Kaha, Te Araroa, Cape Runaway, Ruatoria and Torere and generally did worst in the places National did best in.

National did best in the places Labour did worst like Rere (82%), Thornton (79%), Makauri (71%) Makaraka, Waerenga-a-Kuri, Tiniroto and Ormond and worst in Kaiti, Ruatoki, Te Araroa, Torere, Omaio, Ruatoria, Elgin and Tikitiki.

United Future got less than 1% of the electorate party votes and had a mixed bag with 11% of the 57 votes in Waimana and their next best result was 2.7% in Waerenga-a-Kuri and Te Araroa.

The Ikaroa-Rawhiti polling places that overlap with East Coast electorate had fairly similar results and a similar trend noticeable between inland rural communities, coastal communities and the urban centres.

ALCP did best in Makauri, Makaraka and Matawai but got no votes in more than half of the polling places in the Gisborne District.

The Greens got no Ikaroa-Rawhiti votes in Rere, Kotemaori or Tutira but did best in Hicks Bay, Whangara and Gisborne city – more than half of the Gisborne and Wairoa polling places recorded greater than the national average for the Greens.

Wairoa, Kaiti, Te Puia Springs and Tolaga Bay voters were the strongest supporters for Labour Party, and only Waerenga-a-Kuri and Makauri recorded counts lower than the country-wide party vote for Labour.

Mana did best in Muriwai, Ruatoria, Hicks Bay & Te Araroa and recorded no votes in 10 polling places, mostly inland rural communities like Ormond, Tiniroto and Matawai.

The Māori Party had the strongest support in Nuhaka, Tokomaru Bay, Muriwai and Tikitiki and no votes in Tutira and Makauri.

The National Party achieved 6% of the vote in Ikaroa-Rawhiti and did best in polling places of Makauri (31%), Rere, Wainui and Ormond (17%) and worst in places like Hicks Bay, Kaiti, Muriwai and Patutahi where they received either no votes or no more than 2%.

NZ First did best in Makauri (25%), Patutahi (16%), Tuai (15%) and Tutira (14%) but had not votes in places like Rere, Whangara and Tiniroto.

In Waiariki, the Green Party did best in Opotiki, Te Kaha and Omaio and the National Party got no more than three votes in half of the 180 polling places. The highest proportion of party votes for National was 14% in Ngongataha. Labour did best in the urban centres like Rotorua, Kawerau, Whakatane and Opotiki.

Overall the patterns seem to reflect similar trends over recent elections from what I can tell. The big surprise was the Green Party trebled their vote from the last election in Ikaroa-Rawhiti. Another interesting development was the stronger than the national average support for the Conservative candidate, which probably reflects Gisborne residents familiarity with Kathy as a District Councillor. New Zealand First also scored higher than the national average in the East Coast electorate even though the candidate seemed to have a very low profile and did little campaigning.

Māori Representation

At the risk of being called a sore loser, I think it’s useful to outline in more detail than the couple of lines possible in a newspaper story why I support the establishment of Māori wards for Gisborne District Council.

While the majority of Gisborne District councilors rejected the option last month, it is exciting to see that both Waikato Regional Council and Nelson City Council (unanimously) have followed Bay of Plenty Regional Council and chosen to establish Māori wards.

There seem to be two or three main reasons people don’t like the idea of Māori wards for Gisborne District Council.

The first is the suggestion that Māori wards will mean less representation for rural residents. The argument goes that the wards will be so large it will be hard for elected members to get around. By all accounts, BOP Regional Council’s very successful Māori wards arrangement has at least one ward larger than the whole Gisborne District. Our GDC staff proposal was to have two or three Māori wards, thereby keeping the ward sizes small enough.

In addition, the proposal would mean that rural residents have twice as many councilors responsible for their area as there would be two not one councilor covering every rural area. This would result in  more choice of councilors to contact and twice as much representation for both Māori and general electors. There is also a strong argument for what is currently Matakaoa ward to be considered isolated which would mean at least two general wards on the coast and one Māori.

Another criticism of Māori wards is that it doesn’t guarantee people with mana whenua (ancestral connections) to the area would be elected. The last census showed however that 90% of Māori residing in the district have affiliations with at least one iwi within Gisborne District Council boundaries and if Tūhoe and Te Whānau-a-Apanui are included it rises to around 99%.

So, it is highly unlikely that anyone standing for a Māori seat would not be connected to local iwi and boundaries for wards have been suggested as running along the Waimata River that usually demarcates the boundary between Ngāti Porou and Turanga iwi.

One of my main concerns with the GDC decision was that Māori in particular, but also the wider public, had not been properly consulted on the intention to reject Māori wards. Under the Local Government Act there are some pretty clear rules for ensuring proper consultation on these kinds of decisions. A number of Māori groups were informed that Council intended to make a decision but the information exchange was minimal. Māori certainly had little, if any, opportunity to take the proposals back to their communities to discuss and have input on the final decision.

Of course, really motivated residents could organise another petition and collect the necessary 1,517 valid voter signatures by the end of February.  I’m not sure however that enough people think this issue is a priority to give up their summer holidays for. As the saying goes, we get the government we deserve and I can live with that if others don’t think it is a priority.

A final argument is that Māori wards are divisive, unfair and even racist. Of course over the last 40 years much progress has been made at a national level in recognising the special status of Maori as indigenous peoples. International acknowledgment of the value of protecting the unique cultures of human civilization has enabled national legislation and policies designed to ensure indigenous peoples maintain customs, language and some semblance of control over natural resources. These have been required as for hundreds of years settler societies have imposed majoritarian systems of decision-making and resource allocation. These settler systems have usually overlooked or dismissed the interests of indigenous peoples who by design, tradition or choice have remained on the margins of local governance systems.

Nah man, STV is better…

In his defence of the status quo on 7 September a fellow Councillor suggests he would like to have access to more information on the case for STV as the preferred voting system.

Mike Reid who presented information to Council works for Local Government New Zealand, not the Society of Local Government Managers. His presentation was not “biased”, it presented the facts on the statutory process for representation reviews and the various options available to all councils. Some councilors took issue with the legislative requirements and chose to criticise the presentation but Mr Reid was simply delivering the message we all need to hear so we properly understand the process and spectrum of options available.

My colleague asked for more evidence on the benefits of the Single Transferrable Vote, I suggest a good starting point for anyone interested is the 2007 reportImproving the Representativeness of Councillors: An International Literature Review” by Rao, N., Grayson, L. & Young, K. The paper documents how STV has contributed to improving the participation of women, young people and ethnic minorities in local government leadership but cautions that changing the voting system is only one of many factors contributing to more representative governance. And considering all the evidence, the authors recommend the UK adopt a proportional voting system for local government to replace First Past the Post.

Another useful source of evidence on the benefits of STV is ‘Empowerment or encumbrance? Exercising the STV option for local authority elections in New Zealand’ by Massey University Professor Christine Cheyne and Associate Professor Margie Comrie (2005). The authors conclude:

STV has the potential to make our local authorities more representative of the communities you serve. It increases the likelihood that those communities within our society that feel isolated and marginalised from mainstream political life will have the opportunity for direct participation. That can only enrich the nature of political life in this country and strengthen the foundations of our democratic institutions.”

My colleague claims that STV wouldn’t be used in rural wards because “STV relies on more than one person to be elected and so our rural wards, which are represented by one person, would continue to be FPP”. I’m not sure where this idea is coming from as the Wellington mayoral race last year is just one example of STV working in an electorate with only one elected representative. Celia Wade-Brown won the election in the final round of the instant runoff count. She was ranked ahead of Kerry Prendergast on a significant number of ballots from the four trailing candidates after they were eliminated, which allowed her to overcome Prendergast’s lead after the first round of counting. The electorate got the Mayor that was most preferred.

One of Mr Reid’s most interesting revelations during his presentation to Council was that many councils have used independent panels drawn from respected local residents to make recommendations on representation arrangements. It sounds like this would be a useful way to avoid any claims of a conflict of interest or self-preservation and such a panel would no doubt deliver recommendations as robust as anything we councillors might come up with.

STV does have serious limitations and weaknesses, but if the outcomes of what the voting system delivers is most important then the people who have studied it more than most us all seem to conclude that at a local government level STV is superior to FPP.

Representation Review 2011 – STV vs FPP

The decision last week by 11 of my colleagues to support First Past the Post as the electoral system Gisborne District Council intends to use in 2013 was disappointing for me for a number of reasons.

There seemed to be a number of councilors who believed STV is some kind of threat to rural wards. Someone who should have known better said Wairoa had done away with its wards after switching to STV and now only one rural councilor remained there. But according to the Department of Internal Affairs, Wairoa District Council uses FPP and always has. Anyway, Council chooses the make up of the wards, the voting system has nothing to do with it.

A growing number of people seem motivated to collect the 1,517 signatures of eligible electors required to ensure the public have their say through an official poll on whether or not to change to STV. This means the decision last week is likely to cost the Council around $60,000 to administer the poll.

STV is a fairer and more democratic system. According to the official guidelines from the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM), the main advantage of STV is that it produces better outcomes than FPP. While Gisborne elections have had much higher numbers of invalids for STV than FPP, SOLGM and the Local Government Commission say most of the confusion is from having different systems on the same voting paper. Evidence gathered from comparing the results of STV against FPP elections has found that STV achieves
“broad proportionality in multi-member wards/constituencies
; majority outcomes in single-member elections; more equitable minority representation
; and a reduction in the number of wasted votes.” Why would we not want all of those outcomes?

I don’t give much weight to precedence from reviews undertaken by GDC in years gone by. We have got the responsibility and opportunity to review the situation now and whatever people decided previously is of little consequence to this decision. Similarly just because the majority of other councils still use FPP, I don’t see that as a reason we should – its pretty clear that those who have used STV get a Council that is more representative of their community in terms of age, gender and ethnicity, again I suspect other councils like the status quo that delivered them the power.

I agree with claims that more voters feel comfortable with FPP but that is a self-perpetuating cycle, if we don’t try the alternative (for both Council and DHB) then we as voters won’t make the effort to understand STV.

Yes STV is a more complex voting process and it does take longer to work out who won, so if a simple, easy to understand voting system is most important then FPP is the best option. However if we believe the most accurate system is preferable in terms of electing the people most preferred by the voters, then STV is far superior.

FPP is a bit like using a sledgehammer to open an egg, it gets the job done quickly and simply, but the results are not as good as if we use a more sophisticated approach such as an egg cup, a knife and a teaspoon.

To avoid any chance of a perceived conflict of interest in these important decisions around representation arrangements, the idea of an independent panel to draft a proposal has some real merit. Any volunteers?!

Hasta la Victoria Siempre

Socialism made the headlines locally and at a national level last week. The Prime Minister explained his admission that a socialist streak runs through New Zealanders by acknowledging he too holds socialist ideals. And an aspiring Mayoral candidate blamed socialists on Gisborne District Council for the increase in his rates demand, which he thinks is a form of wealth tax. Of course he failed to mention his properties are collectively worth many millions of dollars and the proportion of his rates to property value is less than one tenth of what the vast majority of us contribute.

As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, “the term socialist has been so evacuated of content over the last century that it’s hard even to use in any sensible way. The Soviet Union was called a socialist society by the two major propaganda powers in the world at the time. The west called the Soviet Union socialist to defame it by association with the miserable tyranny and the Soviets called it socialism to benefit from the moral appeal that true socialism had among large parts of the general world population.” But the Soviet Union was about as remote from socialism as you can imagine. The core notion of traditional socialism is that working people have to be in control of production and communities have to be in control of their own lives. The Soviet Union was the exact opposite of local control, the working people were virtual slaves. Chomsky suggests the collapse of the Soviet Union was in fact a great victory for socialism.

There are attempts today to describe a detailed vision of a socialist future and some of the most extensive and detailed are examples like Participatory Economics and the moves toward an extension of democracy to the industrial sphere through worker-owned cooperatives.

Philosopher and educationalist John Dewey’s main work concentrated on democracy and he pointed out that as long as we have industrial feudalism – that is, private power controlling production and commerce – our democracy will be very limited, we have to move to what he called industrial democracy if we hope to have democracy of any significance.

The way for individuals to realise the democracy “in their own hearts” was through community. As Dewey wrote, “it is through association that man has acquired his individuality and it is through association that he exercises it. The theory which sets the individual over against society, of necessity contradicts itself.”

Dewey believed that direct participation in a democracy would foster an unexpected talent for thoughtful deliberation in ordinary citizens. “We lie in the lap of an immense intelligence,” he said. The difficulty was to unleash this intelligence, which remained dormant until “it possesses the local community as its medium.” In The Public and its Problems — Dewey’s only work of formal political philosophy — he outlined an elaborate program of truly participatory democracy, one built around face-to-face interactions in “neighborly communities.”

The idea that people should be in control of their own destiny and lives including the institutions within which they work and the communities within which they live is traditional socialism.

So when the label socialist gets used pejoratively by people who should know better, I hope John Key is correct, that New Zealanders do all have a socialist streak and we are proud of that commitment to local, egalitarian democracy that protects us from the tyranny of both big government and big business.

GDC & Māori Representation

I’m presenting a short talk during a session on Local Government & Māori Representation at the 2011 Diversity Forum hosted by the NZ Human Rights Commission.

I’ll put the presentation up when its finished – a reference I’ve used is this extract from a 2009 report by historian Jane Luiten on the establishment and disestablishment of the Tangata Whenua Standing Committee:

GDC and Tangata Whenua Standing Committee

 

Happy New Year

So there goes 2010, and as 2011 rolls in we see petrol going over $2.00/litre in town, which probably means $2.50 up the Coast. This year the International Energy Agency referred to Peak Oil in the past tense, saying output will never again get to the “all-time peak of 70 million barrels per day reached in 2006.” Global demand for oil is increasing exponentially and the cost of production is going up as the stuff gets harder to extract.

The good news is that while the New Zealand government has acknowledged the need to plan for life beyond cheap oil, so has a growing number of Gisborne people. Planning to adapt our lifestyles seems like a better strategy than having change forced on us.

Local residents face similar challenges if we like the lifestyle the district offers. Gisborne District Council is an entity we pay money to that ensures decent roads, safe drinking water, some agreement about who can do what where and the provision of other basic services essential to maintaining our quality of life.

There has been a lot of column space dedicated recently to complaints about rates rises for some sectors of the community and suggestions we should cut Council services or delay maintenance and replacement work.

Despite all the table thumping, the good news is that a significant proportion of ratepayers will have a reduction in their rates and the vast majority will probably have an increase of less than $2 per week.

With the Reserve Bank predicting inflation of five percent next year, we should thank staff and the former Council for ensuring the average rates rises are well below inflation. While farmers and some businesses complain about the rises, we should compare them with last year when residential property owners in the city were hardest hit and faced increases in the poorest parts of town of over 16%. So we all have to do our share and while legislation prevents rates from being used as a mechanism for wealth redistribution, if you have a multi million dollar property that is also a business, you expect to contribute a bit more than the average.

As a recent editorial pointed out, Gisborne is no longer in the highest bracket for rates in the country and while we have high levels of poverty we also have a lean Council, expensive rural roading and flood protection infrastructure to maintain in the face of decreasing central government support.

Gisborne has 360,000 hectares of grassland, 150,000 hectares of planted trees, 40,000 hectares of native bush and 9,000 hectares of horticulture.

Gisborne also has huge areas of ‘Maori land’ a lot of which is termed ‘unproductive’ (because it’s not being intensively farmed or forested) and ‘unrateable’ (because the multiple owners are either deceased or impossible to track down to recover rates from).

If a fraction of the time, passion and resources committed by councillors, staff and lobby groups to cutting Council services was redirected into developing a strategy for attracting long-term residents to the district, we could have a really effective campaign.

Part of such a strategy should focus on attracting Maori with connections to Te Tairawhiti to come home to work and build on the ancestral land everyone seems so proud of.

We also have a great opportunity to profile our community as a potential new home for the thousands of visitors here over summer. We have no traffic jams (except at New Years!), no air pollution, no crowded waves, no in-fill housing, no crass multinational strip malls… in fact, there’s not much here except a beautiful environment, laid back lifestyles and a lot of very friendly people.

GISCOSS Candidates Survey

Here are the results of the Gisborne East Coast Council of Social Services – Questions for DHB & GDC Candidates…


1. Do you think Gisborne District Council should continue to facilitate the process for desired community-wide social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes even if it was not a requirement in legislation?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Yes – Definitely. Though we may be in partnerships or collaborations for this purpose.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe Yes
Brian Wilson Yes
Manu Caddie Yes – it’s a no-brainer… GDC is the only district-wide, public institution that can coordinate these aspirations, if GDC does not do this then no other organisation is going to and we will have a much more fragmented community as a result.
Murray Palmer Yes
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg Yes – so long as it was only to facilitate and coordinate
Tina Karaitiana Yes – it seems a shame that a Council would require legislation being the Local Government Act to do so.  Communities work best when we consider all of the things that impact on people’s lives, and not just rubbish, roads and rates.  All of these areas do not stand alone, they are all inter-related and are each in their own right critically important to our identity and our ability to create a community that is progressive.  In a nutshell, we will never meet the needs and do our job as councillors’ justice if we don’t know what outcomes the community want us to achieve.
Don Blakeney No comment
Larry Foster Yes
Nona Aston Yes Definately

2. Which Community Organisations have you had active involvement with in the past five years?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston
  • Council Committees: Community Development, Wastewater Management, Civil Defence and Environmental and Policy.
  • Volunteered on to Youth Transition Service which I chair.
  • Youth Voice
  • Heart of Gisborne
  • Arts and Culture Advisory Panel
  • Gisborne Boardriders Club (Executive member)
  • Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti (Trustee)
  • Wainui Community Group
  • I attend virtually all the community consultation meetings in the city ward
  • Affordable housing is an area of interest
  • Also in the past have been a Board of Trustee member for Awapuni School and Lytton High School
Clive Bibby
  • Tolaga Bay save the Wharf Trust
  • Dr Paratene Ngata Coastguard Rescue Boat – Tolaga Bay
  • Tolaga Bay Foreshore Development Trust
Allan Hall
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Holy Trinity Church
  • Rotary

Anne Pardoe

  • Chamber of Commerce (past president)
  • Rotarian Gisborne West Rotary
  • QUEST Charitable Trust (Foundation Trustee)
  • SPCA
Brian Wilson
  • YMCA
  • Tairawhiti Youth Voice
  • CPHAC/DSAC health board committee
  • Healthy Homes Retrofit steering committee
Manu Caddie
  • Waikirikiri School, Board of Trustees (Chairperson)
  • Gisborne Cycling Advisory Group (Chairperson)
  • Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group (Convenor)
  • · Presbyterian Support East Coast (Board Member)
  • Whanau Ora (Tairawhiti Regional Advisory Group Member)
  • Te Ora Hou Te Tairawhiti Trust (Trustee)
  • Gisborne Council of Social Services (Executive Member)
  • Tairawhiti Men Against Violence (Foundation Member)
  • Gisborne Chamber of Commerce (Executive Member)
  • · Rongo-i-te-Kai Marae (Treasurer)
  • · Te Puna Reo o Puhi Kaiti (Whanau Committee Member)
  • · Te Toka o Te Kokonga Te Kohanga Reo (Whanau Committee Member)
  • · Council for International Development (National Board Member)
  • Tairawhiti Youth Workers Collective (Chairperson)
  • National Youth Workers Network Aotearoa (National Working Party Member
Murray Palmer
  • Te Iwi o Rakaipaaka Inc.
  • Te Rakato Marae
  • Tairawhiti Environment Centre
  • Whakaki Lake Trust
  • Te Penu Marae
  • Transition Tairawhiti
Owen Lloyd
  • Truancy
  • BOT Lytton and Whatatutu
  • GISCOSS
  • NZCOSS
  • Social Services ITO
  • YOTS
  • Te Kupenga net Trust
  • Tairawhiti District Police Advisory Group
  • Trustee of Mangatu marae Arts in Public Places.
Rehette Stoltz
  • Whataupoko Playcentre
  • Montessori Pre-School
  • Sunshine Service
  • Central Baptist Church
Steve Scragg
  • East Coast Hawke’s bay Conservation Board
  • New Zealand Fish and Game Council
Tina Karaitiana
  • Tairawhiti Men Against Violence
  • Women’s Institute
  • Maori Women’s Welfare League
  • Women’s Refuge
  • Te Whare Whaia Matauranga
  • Eastland Helicopter Trust
  • Super Grans
  • Gisborne Budgeting Services
Don Blakeney
  • Ngati Porou
  • Uawa FM
  • Whanau Whanui Kohanga Reo
  • Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu (correspondence)
  • NZ Film Commission
  • Tolaga Bay Area School
  • Gisborne Netball Association
  • Uawa FM Netball Club
  • Tokomaru Bay Netball Club
  • Uawa Rugby Club
  • Uawa Boardriders Club
  • 48Hour Film Festival
  • Dancing with the Pa’s
  • Anaura Bay Youth
  • Anaura Association Charitable Trust (Chairperson)
  • Public Health Nutrition Ltd
  • Sport Eastland
  • Cre8tive Tairawhiti
  • Tolaga Bay Area School Netball Club
Larry Foster
  • Heart of Gisborne
  • Gisborne Port Company
Nona Aston
  • Te Whanau Aroha Positive Aging
  • Te Kupenga
  • Cancer Society
  • GISCOSS
  • Problem Gambling
  • Kaumatua Group Road Action Committee
  • Safe Tairawhiti Housing Action Group
  • E Tu Elgin
  • Aikinson and Taruheru Crescent
  • Mangapapa Residents
  • Rotary Gisborne
  • Sister Cities keep Gisborne Beautiful
  • City Safe Youth Council YTS Chair
  • Health Camp School now
  • Age Concern

3. Do you support the idea of a bylaw requiring a Warrant of Fitness (to ensure basic health and safety requirements are met) before any property is rented in the District?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Yes – I am often horrified by the standard of many rental properties. Renting property is a partnership with responsibilities sides and often a higher standard by the landlord will be met with a higher standard of upkeep by the tenant. Unfortunately many landlords do not seriously assess and meet their responsibility and are coming up well short. It is a shame that a bylaw would be a requirement but a sad reality that sometimes the right thing needs to be enforced.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall No
Anne Pardoe Yes – This is a residential tenancies act
Brian Wilson Yes – In principal but would need to see the ramifications first of doing so
Manu Caddie Yes – I have been promoting the idea through the Tairawhiti Housing Advisory Group
Murray Palmer Yes – but note possibilities for work in lieu of rent where house safe etc
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg No – I see this as a role of the Department of Building and Housing and the Health Department.
Tina Karaitiana Yes – on the basis that the proposal is not beaucracy gone bad and not another strategy to generate huge amounts of revenue from landlords.  My support is on the basis that healthy housing is a basic fundamental of good health and that we need to support standards that could increase the living conditions for the most vulnerable in our community.    We lead many of the worst health statistics in the country and we need to think wider about how we can work collaboratively to address this.  These are not good statistics that boost the image of our community.   Those landlords who rent out safe, clean and healthy homes will have nothing to worry about.
Don Blakeney No comment
Larry Foster No
Nona Aston Yes I would the problem would be the practical vetting of it

4. Would you support a proposal to require a permit to consume alcohol consumption in public places?

Names of Candidates Responses
Andy Cranston Yes – It is generally not necessary or desirable to consume alcohol in public places. It would be fantastic if alcohol consumption was partaken in a responsible and considerate manner, but that is very often not the case. Should an event or initiative be planned where consumption of alcohol was deemed to be appropriate then I believe the controls around meeting permit conditions would offer an appropriate enforcement tool.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe Yes
Brian Wilson Yes – again I would support some extra controls on alcohol consumption but would need to see the pros and cons of doing so
Manu Caddie Yes – especially around parks, reserves and beaches
Murray Palmer Yes – if that was the consensus of health providers etc
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg No – not with out further information on its implementation

Tina Karaitiana

No – when we think about what we are trying to address when we put restrictions on drinking in public places it is to generally address drunkenness, violence, damage to property and harm to people, even perceived feelings of being unsafe.  The people that are likely to get a permit are unlikely to be offenders in any of these categories and the offenders unlikely to get a permit, so a waste of time and paper.  There are already laws available to the police to address this type of behaviour and drinking in public places is currently under Sale of Liquor Act review so direction on this issue would be lead nationally and not at a local level.  However liquor bans can be used at a local level to
address problem areas or to protect areas that alcohol shouldn’t be publicly consumed at, ie children’s playgrounds.
Don Blakeney No Comment
Larry Foster No
Nona Aston Yes definitely again it is the practical vetting. I would rather see a by law saying which places it was allowed.

5. Do you support the proposal for Tairawhiti Youth Voice to have a non-voting seat on Gisborne District Council?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Undecided – As a member of Youth Voice committee I absolutely want to say yes but there are some very practical issues to be worked through first.  This of course would set a precedent to dozens of other organisations to have a seat and the council process could very quickly become compromised and unwieldy. This initiative is a great tool for our Youth though with regards to learning and mentoring and it is definitely worth further consideration. As a start point I would be trialling a non voting seat on the Community Development Committee.
Clive Bibby No
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe No
Brian Wilson Yes – as I am one of the ones promoting this idea
Manu Caddie Yes – this is an excellent proposal and would require some ongoing support from GDC staff and local youth workers
Murray Palmer Yes
Owen Lloyd Yes
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg Yes – but would rather see a Tairawhiti youth council, we need to grow, develop our future community leaders
Tina Karaitiana Yes – I believe that youth voice is critically important for our district. However I’m unsure whether a non-voting seat is the most effective way or only way to achieve this.  What I do know is that we have a high youth population, they are our districts future and we need to get it right.  I would need to speak with TYV to see how they think the relationship between Council and TYV could work best but I am in support of TYV and the young people who give their time to make our community a better place.   We definitely need to utilise their skills more and the fresh perspective that they can bring not just to youth issues but to community issues in general.
Don Blakeney Yes
Larry Foster Yes
Nona Aston Yes definitely

6. Overall do you think GDC is effective in involving people affected in decisions that affect them?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Yes – GDC has been putting a lot of effort into consultation and really trying to find a way. There are frequent community meetings which are strategically placed throughout the region to enable high level participation. Management have continued to work with staff to enhance their customer service levels. I believe as councillors we have huge responsibilities in this area and should be available and participate at every opportunity. Our vote is on behalf and it is absolutely appropriate that we understand the community views on all manner of issues. We must be available and participate with all affected persons to have the ability to make any decisions on their behalf.
Clive Bibby Yes
Allan Hall Yes
Anne Pardoe Yes
Brian Wilson Yes – Council has got a lot better at doing this in the last couple of years but still needs to work on clever ways to more involve the community.
Manu Caddie No – but there have been some real improvements since the new CEO has been in the job and new managers for Engineering & Works and Community Planning & Development.
Murray Palmer No – not always – but very variable
Owen Lloyd No
Rehette Stoltz Yes
Steve Scragg No
Tina Karaitiana No – but I appreciate that often council is stuck in a hard place, with very limited resources, limited room for negotiations and many competing priorities however we can do better and we need to acknowledge the skills, ideas and local knowledge that our communities and subsectors of the community have.  And to be honest, Council is more likely to get it right when we fully understand how these decisions that we make will affect people in our community.  It’s far easier to consult properly and make well informed decisions than to be going back to redress poorly informed decisions, not to mention the cost of doing a job more than once.
Don Blakeney No
Larry Foster Yes
Nona Aston Yes I think it is now on the right track . There is still a lot of work to be done but the staff have been really good and need support to get it better.

7. How confident are you that GDC has effectively implemented the Disability Strategy?

Name of Candidate Response
Andy Cranston Confident – The strategy has been ratified and is a work in progress. I believe awareness is growing and there is a lot more appreciation of the purpose and need for such a strategy.
Clive Bibby Confident
Allan Hall Confident
Anne Pardoe Confident
Brian Wilson Confident – at least that is what feedback I am getting from this sector. However the area that has not been dealt with sufficiently so far is the access of people with mobility scooters and other disabled people crossing roads especially at intersections and round a bouts.
Manu Caddie Confident – there have been a number of practical actions taking such as installing ramps and fixing the crossings near roundabouts, kneeling buses, larger more obvious mobility parking spaces in the CBD, etc. but much more work needs to be done including a pedestrian crossing on Childers Rd near the CBD, responding to the needs of residents with disabilities in rural areas and an audit of Council facilities in relation to the needs of children and young people with disabilities
Murray Palmer Not Sure
Owen Lloyd Not Confident
Rehette Stoltz Not Sure
Steve Scragg Confident/ Not Sure
Tina Karaitiana As a new prospect I am unable to answer this question, the best people to answer it are the disabled community, their families and workers in the sector, they would see daily the differences that this strategy may have made to their lives and if I was elected, I would be sure to involve this sector of the community in all stages of the strategy, making changes as we need to along the way so that they are able to participate as fully as possible in our community
Don Blakeney Not Confident
Larry Foster Confident
Nona Aston Confident we can keep it up together

The Meanings of Democracy

For some people democracy simply means ticking a box for a preferred person or political party once every three years. For others, like those who designed the participatory budget process in Brazil, it means people at the street level having monthly input into the decisions of municipal governments and the priorities of the public purse.

In Gisborne there are also a range of views on what democracy means. For some councillors it means they have been elected with a mandate to make decisions without any input from residents – for others it means council has a leadership role in helping our communities arrive at the best solution to common problems.

GDC staff recently proposed council focus on improving the way the organisation engages with residents of the region. A sensible, well thought out project with no additional costs was put to councillors and immediately dismissed by the majority of our elected representatives. Why did they do this? The councillors said council staff don’t need to encourage more community involvement because the councillors are the community and know everything about it!

Many people in our district don’t realise we have the power to influence positive change for our family, the wider community and the natural environment. The full potential of all citizens needs to be unlocked if this region is going to really prosper.

People connected to the poorest parts of our district need to be on Council so the issues holding us back are properly understood by decision-makers and effective action can happen. How many Councillors have we had who live in Munroe Street, Belfast Crescent or Tyndall Road? How can we encourage a greater sense of civic responsibility amongst residents from every neighbourhood?

I am keen to be part of a Council that helps realise the full potential of our region by encouraging rather than dismissing new ideas. A Council that wants to ensure everyone in the District has access to basics like healthy housing, quality education and decent jobs. That doesn’t mean Council has to provide all these things but it should be an advocate for urgent improvements in these areas.

We need to establish a ’50,000 by 2020 Taskforce’ to work with the whole community on strategies to attract educated young families to relocate here. A more educated, skilled and settled population will help spread the cost of rates and ensure we can live in an attractive, vibrant and safe city.

My campaign website (www.manu.org.nz) contains my views on a wide range of local issues over the past few years. There is information about my family background, details on my track record of community involvement and a list of endorsements from respected locals. It also provides a space for residents and ratepayers to share concerns, ask questions and promote ideas.

To make an informed decision when you vote please check out the website or give me a call to find out more about what I will be standing for if elected to Council.

Profile & Priorities

Te Poho-o-Rawiri, Waitangi Day, 2010

I am standing for Council because I want to encourage much more public participation in discussions and decisions about the future for our communities. Diversity around the council table is important so the district leadership truly reflects the people they serve and we all move ahead together.

I moved to Gisborne with my wife Natasha Koia in 1998 to provide care for her elderly grandparents. We still live with her grandmother and now have our own family with two young children.

I have a degree in communication design, a post-graduate teaching qualification and have worked as a graphic designer, teacher, researcher and community organiser. My research and project management business was established in 2004 with local, national and international clients including the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education and The World Bank. I currently hold governance roles with the Board of Trustees for Waikirikiri School and Presbyterian Support East Coast, and I served three years on the board of the NZ Council for International Development.

More information about my priorities, track record and a list of respected locals who endorse my election are available at: http://www.manu.org.nz

– – – – –

Question 1. Rates

Our region currently has huge infrastructure, transport and energy costs, low incomes and limited employment options. I would support Council appointment of a skilled advocate to influence central government so that any impact of national regulations are fully understood and compensated for by central government not ratepayers.

GDC needs to get much smarter at securing external resourcing for major projects. We need much more sophisticated negotiation skills to make the case for private and public investment in local infrastructure.

We should establish a ‘50,000 Taskforce’ with the goal of reaching this population by 2020. Design and implement an aggressive national and international marketing campaign to attract world class talent to relocate to the region bringing expertise and increased earnings.

– – – – –

Question 2. Infrastructure

Cycling and walking needs to be made much easier and safer than it is at present.

We need to urgently establish alternatives to more logging trucks in the city. We need the companies benefitting to pay for the constant road upgrades required.

The rail needs a rescue plan in place by April – based on a robust study of the options not rushed reports.

We need ultra-fast free broadband to every home by 2012.

We need a bylaw requiring all rental homes to pass a Warrant of Fitness to reduce the negative health, education, financial and social outcomes from substandard housing.

The community needs to think about and decide how we best support local businesses and how much big box retail we want in our town. We should take a different development path to places like Tauranga.

– – – – –

Question 3. Council involvement with economic and community development

The sobering social and economic issues in our region are not just statistics – they have faces and names as friends, family and neighbours.

Council doesn’t need to lead economic development but needs to ensure it is smart and takes into account potential impacts on social, environmental and cultural wellbeing. Similarly council doesn’t need to lead community development but needs to work with residents and other stakeholders to ensure communities lead their own development.

Local authorities should have a key role in coordinating central government funding coming into our region for social and economic development to make sure it is lined up with local priorities. I will encourage council support for residents groups at neighbourhood and village level to determine local priorities and development plans.

Question 4. Council provision of facilities and events for young people

Council doesn’t need to provide these directly, but should work with young people, community organisations and businesses to develop more opportunities for young people. This could include computer clubhouses, homework centres, all ages music venues, business incubators, community gardens, and sports and recreation facilities.

Young people are full citizens and Council should provide a non-voting seat for the Tairawhiti Youth Council around the Council table and on all committees.

– – – – –

Question 5. Biggest environmental problems

Significant challenges facing the district include farm and beach erosion, waterway sedimentation, agro-chemical pollution, minerals exploration, native habitat destruction, increased risk from extreme weather and our dependence on oil-based energy.

However one of the most important issues is the need to secure a collective commitment to adjust our lifestyles to ensure future generations are also able to enjoy the abundance we have been blessed with.

Council should lead by example – using more solar energy, providing loans paid off by rates for solar water heating, switching to hybrid vehicles, using bicycles around the CBD and planting vegetables in public gardens.

Council should facilitate more environmental education and community action and establish a regional Environmental Forum with statutory agencies, businesses and non-government organisations to identify, plan and monitor action to address priority environmental issues.

– – – – –

Wainui/Okitu Issues

Wainui Beach Erosion - accelerated by subdivision stormwater?

Wainui Beach Erosion - accelerated by subdivision stormwater?

Wainui/Okitu Residents & Ratepayers Association Inc. (www.wainuibeach.org.nz) sent a set of very good questions to all city ward candidates to respond to – below are my responses.

This community has had a difficult time dealing with GDC over the years and a lot of goodwill has been lost – I hope it is starting to be rebuilt and that a new Council can make a much better effort to listen and respond in supportive ways to the wisdom and priorities of neighbourhoods, villages and communities.

– – – –

1. Wainui/Okitu has been noted for its existing special character.  What do you think of Wainui/Okitu’s unique character, and what would you do, as a Councillor, to enhance, nurture and protect this asset?

As a Councillor I would support the development and ongoing monitoring and review of medium and long term community plans for Wainui/Okitu and Makarori that would be determined through a participatory, consensus-building process by the residents of these communities with support from GDC staff and other stakeholders including DOC, NZTA, local hapu, local business owners, etc.

I have been working with Jennie Harre-Hindmarsh, as a representative of the Wainui/Okitu Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc., and GDC staff on the development of a set of Guidelines for Public Engagement processes for GDC. The current Council rejected the need for such a project but senior GDC staff and communities around the region recognise the importance of making significant improvements in the way Council works with residents and stakeholders so the project is continuing. Having a clear set of Guidelines that are developed with the input of interested residents and ratepayers can provide a valuable mechanism for citizens to hold staff accountable to as we collectively seek to enhance, nurture and protect the areas we live in.

Wainui/Okitu has a unique set of challenges including pressures on land and waterways from higher density housing and farmland converting to residential properties, coastal erosion, increased logging trucks travelling through the community, large fluctuations in property prices and rates, and a history of being treated badly by GDC and other agencies like NZTA – all issues that I would be keen to learn more about and help residents find sustainable solutions for.

– – – –

2. What are your views on development in Wainui/Okitu?  High Rises?  Infill Housing?  Section Sizes?

I would be keen to hear more about local residents and landowners views are on future development. I know the development up Lysnar Rd has been controversial and unpopular amongst many Okitu locals. As mentioned above I think there needs to be much more local control over development plans, the ability for residents to retain the special character of their community and the ability for residents to be assured the benefits of any new development outweigh the cost to their local environment, social, cultural and economic wellbeing.

I grew up in Tauranga and have witnessed the transformation of Ocean Beach at Mount Maunganui, and in fact, all around Tauranga habour and beach coastline in a very short space of time. Many public recreation and water access points are now shut off from locals. At the Mount there are horrendous high rise apartments that have turned a sleepy strip of holiday bachs into a playground for the very wealthy after they pulled down an iconic hotel and hundreds of humble holiday homes. A few individuals with significant influence in local government made a lot of money out of those changes. I doubt this is the kind of direction Wainui/Okitu residents are keen to see your community go in.

My uncle John Minogue bought a small house at 52 Douglas St in the 1970s and built another house on the property a decade or so later. I don’t think it looks too bad but I’m not sure Wainui/Okitu people would want to see any smaller sections than that example. Again, I think the important thing is that local residents reach agreement on what you can live with and that should become the plan governing development in your community until there is consensus to change it one way or another.

– – – –

3. What would you do as a Councillor to encourage the development of the cycleway from Wainui to the city?

I will continue my involvement with the Cycling Advisory Group that I was part of establishing last year and my subsequent involvement on the Gisborne Cycle and Walkway Trust that I have recently been invited to be the Council representative for (a bit premature but I accepted on the condition I am elected!). The latter group has worked hard for many years to see the Wainui cycleway established and we need to step up the campaign to make NZTA funding for this cycleway an election issue for Anne Tolley now! The change in public policy this year by the National-led coalition government was a disgrace as the funds tagged for the Wainui cycleway were diverted to “roads of national significance” in the major centres including the ‘holiday highway’ north of Auckland. The trucking lobby are significant donors to the National Party and have had a big influence on public investment in roading. We need to join with other cycling advocacy organisations around the country and groups like the Campaign For Better Transport to make cycleways much more of a priority for roading funds. More cycling in the city has to be good for everyone (other than the multinational oil companies). We need much more strategic and vocal leadership on this issue and we need it now.

– – – –

4. What do you know about the effects of subdivision water runoff to the beach.  What is your position on this?

I am aware there are significant concerns about the volume of water flowing from the new Sponge Bay development into the Wainui Stream. My understanding is that the official GDC view is that the rate of flow is no more than it was before the subdivision was installed because the size of the pipes restrict the rate. Pictures I have seen suggest there is a significant increase in volume and while the rate may be the primary determinant on erosion, if there was erosion anyway then increased volume, regardless of rate, will accelerate the erosion. Now there are concerns about the new subdivisions on the hills above Wainui/Okitu and up Lysnar Rd.

I have received copies of the Environment & Policy Sub-Committee agenda and minutes for the past few years and read some of the staff reports on efforts to “naturally protect” the stormwater runoff from the Sandy Cove development in the “Schools” carpark on Wairere Rd. I have had a look at the carpark and ponding process after recent rain – it looks to me like it is probably eliminating erosion that would otherwise have occurred, but I would be interested in how well residents feel it is working. I agree with local submitters on the proposal that developers should definitely have to contribute to the costs associated with this kind of work if it is to prevent environmental damage attributable to their business activity of property subdivision.

– – – –

5. Are you in favour of Wainui/Okitu being a ward in its own right and having its own Councillor?

Generally I am a fan of local wards. I would support taking Wainui/Okitu out of the city ward and establishing a ward that incorporates something like Makarori, Okitu, Wainui, Sponge Bay, Wheatstone Rd and the new subdivisions on the hills above Wainui/Okitu as I would support at least two wards (or Councillors) for Kaiti/Tamarau. If this did not happen I would support the establishment of a formal Community Board for Wainui/Okitu that has its own budget to manage on behalf of its community. I also support a reduction in the number of District Councillors to 8-10 in total instead of the 15 we currently have (including the Mayor).

– – – –

6. This Association was formed to collaborate with the GDC and inform the Wainui Residents and Ratepayers on issues affecting them. Would you support our Association in this role.  If so, in what way?

I helped establish Ka Pai Kaiti ten years ago, this group has similar aims and objectives for Kaiti as your Association does for Wainui/Okitu. I have been disappointed with the lack of mutually meaningful engagement between GDC and Ka Pai Kaiti, while I think we have been able to significantly influence GDC thinking and some priorities, it has been much harder than it need to have been if Councillors had a different attitude to their governance role. My political philosophy requires elected local government officials to not just ‘represent’ their constituents and to make decisions on behalf of everyone else, but to actively involve people affected by decisions in deliberation on the issues and in the decision-making process itself.

I think Gisborne has the potential to be an international leader in participatory local government and I would like to see residents associations for every geographic community that chooses to identify itself and establish a group to coordinate and communicate within the community and with external stakeholders including local authorities.

I would see GDC providing proactive and strategic support for the establishment, growth and maturing of residents collectives and associations as a priority issue for my time in office if I was elected. New technology provides many opportunities for developments such as participatory budgeting, e-democracy and community asset mapping. I would advocate for GDC to seek significant external investment from central government, philanthropic foundations and private business to accelerate our progress toward a far more participatory model of local governance, community development and resource management.

There are a wide range of options for increasing residents influence on Council, the challenge for GDC will be to ensure that the capacity and capability of residents groups is built as consistently as possible over the next 5-10 years so that we develop good processes within our neighbourhoods and villages and share learning and resources between communities in the district. To this end I have been working with Ka Pai Kaiti and representatives from other resident groups from Wainui/Okitu, Elgin, Ruatorea and Mangapapa, and GDC staff, on the idea of a 1-2 day symposium in October that will include presentations from innovative and inspiring community-led development from other centres including neighbourhoods in Whanganui, Hastings and the Bay of Plenty. I have been suggesting for some time that the residents associations in our district cooperate more and this is just one example of what I hope will be many opportunities for civil society and residents groups in Gisborne to support each other and present a strong, coherent voice to Council staff and Councillors.

Is voting over-rated?

‘What me vote? Why should I bother? – anyway those councillors just go on and do what they like anyway!

As the local body elections loom this statement and others like it are constant topics around the coffee-table, over morning tea and pub meals.

Sadly the statements are often true especially when elected people ignore the comments and criticisms expressed by the citizens of our District.

However we should always remember that a vote for all is a very powerful and precious privilege that has been carved out for us by our ancestors. There are many countries in the world where the ordinary person is just a bystander who can only watch as powerful dictators or special interest groups run their countries, unusually for personal gain. These autocratic regimes are always corrupt and often involve persecution, ‘disappearance’ and killing of people who disagree with the politicians.

However one should never underestimate ‘people-power’. There have been very vivid examples where the poor, neglected disenfranchised people have risen up and said ‘enough’.

Now of course radical action like this is unknown in New Zealand (apart from the early civil wars of the 1800s or the labour strikes of the first half of the 20th Century) and the major changes in recent New Zealand have been made through the ballot box.

There is always the argument that ‘well I am not a ratepayer’ so it really doesn’t affect me. This too is a fallacy as we all live in dwellings, pay rent and contribute to the running of the household. Rents themselves are imposed by landlords based on rates and charges that they have to pay to the Gisborne District Council on an annual basis. These rate increases are then passed on as increased rent.

Every time we use a road, footpath, park, streetlight, Olympic Pool, theatre, rubbish bins, toilets, library, cemetery, fresh water tap, go to the toilet or are helped by Civil Defence, dog control or noise control we are using facilities and services that we can have a say about. If you feel these facilities and services are not up to scratch or need improving you can make change. There is one chance you have every three years to make such changes and that is to use your vote.

Take the time to learn, read about the key policies that candidates for council say they are going to support. Ring them up and check to see how serious they are. Have a close look at what they have contributed to in the past to help our community grow and thrive. Are the people who are just good talkers or are they people who encourage others to work with them and achieve results for the whole community?

Also make sure that you are enrolled for the election so that you can vote and make your presence felt. Watch for you voting paper in your letterbox mid-September. Nothing could be simpler – you just have to mark the voting paper for the people you want to make the changes you desire and then post the letter the next day (or even better the same day!).

So go on – make a promise to yourself today –“there is a good reason to vote and I will be a well informed voter in the Election 2010”.

Universal Access for Gisborne?

A recent survey of households in Kaiti found that 90% have a mobile phone and more than one in three have broadband internet in the home. Gisborne residents are obviously committed to using new technology to help with communication, education and involvement in society.

Given the isolation of our region relative to the big cities and overseas markets, access to high speed internet access and affordable information technology should be the centre-piece of any plan for a prosperous region.

High-speed wireless internet access for all residents is becoming a top priority for local authorities around the world.  Whanganui District Council has just subsidised free wireless to two low income neighbourhoods in their town and in Canada advertising is being used to sponsor wireless access to poor neighbourhoods. Given the high access rates charged by the telecommunications companies in New Zealand, electronic infrastructure is quickly being recognised as a public good that requires democratic control rather than just private owners.

Gisborne District councilors wouldn’t even allow staff to setup a Facebook page for the Annual Plan this year. Thankfully Corporate Affairs Manager Douglas Burt has championed Council involvement in broadband initiatives and projects like Computers in Homes and getting broadband to all our rural communities.

Bristol City Council over the past twelve months has been using Participatory Budgeting, including online ways for citizens to set the city spending. The council put aside funds for three city wards to allocate spending through an online discussion.

To carry out the project, the council used Open Source (free) software which enables residents to suggest ideas for what the money should be spent on, and allows other citizens to vote for the ideas they support. While the final decision on spending can’t legally rest with ‘the internet’, the council committed to stick by the decisions made by participants, so long as they are legal.

Half way through the pilot project results are showing that 130 people had registered on the site, a participation rate that is much larger than the numbers who usually turn up to public consultation meetings.

The age of participants has moved down about twenty years in age compared with attendees at traditional public meetings, showing 40% of participants are under the age of 40.

The site asked people who responded to state their location, and this has shown that most respondents come from the three wards in which the funding will be spent. So people are engaging in their local area, but others are having their say too, just as intended, especially given one of the wards covers the city centre, used by pretty much all residents from time to time.

Gisborne District Council will be interested to know that a sizable proportion of the ideas submitted in Bristol turned out not to need funding at all, and could be undertaken right away. These ranged from some ideas actually being issues that could be passed on directly to council officers for action, to users being able to help each other. In one instance, a user suggested it would be good to fund having bus timetables on your mobile phone, and another replied saying that they’d already worked out how to do it, and gave instructions on how to do so!

The council has thus benefitted from another channel for receiving customer feedback as well as encouraging the wisdom of crowds, in addition to the benefits hoped for by the project itself.

Universal access to high speed broadband is fundamental to transforming the economic performance of Gisborne but a key question is whether or not prospective councilors and local voters consider this infrastructure essential for the future of our region.

What’s Wrong with Drilling East Cape?

Last month the influential publication Bloomberg Business Week made the dire assessment that the Brazilian owned Petrobras is ‘more exposed than any oil company on the planet to the risk of an accident similar to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest in U.S. history’.

This is the same company that the National government has just awarded a five year exploration licence to drill over 12,000 square kilometre area off the East Cape.

Claims that Petrobras have cleaned up what Forbes magazine called a ‘poor safety record’ overlook the concerns raised by petroleum sector academics in a Reuters report published in May. These Brazillian experts suggest Petrobras operations pose an even greater risk than extraction in the Gulf of Mexico given the technology has not yet been developed to manage deep sea extraction safely: “Depth is associated with the failure rate of the BOP (blow-out preventer), which showed itself to be inadequate at preventing a leak in the case of BP,” said Segen Estefen, a naval engineering professor with the COPPE, an institute linked to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “The entire industry thought the BOP was adequate, but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “We need more effective equipment than the current BOP,”

The Petrobras P-36 Rig sank after exploding in 2001

Gordon Campbell (www.scoop.co.nz) points out that most of the Raukumara Basin is more than twice the depth of the Deepwater Horizon bore and it would be much further from the kind of emergency response equipment that the Gulf of Mexico has easy access to.

While the Big Oil public relations machine set to work after a couple of hundred Coasties expressed concern about the Petrobras plans, we can expect to see a massive green washing exercise as opposition grows and politicians and the industry try to reassure us that local fears are unfounded.

At present there are no internationally agreed rules, standards or common practices for mobile drilling rigs. Given the glaring gap in regulations that the Gulf disaster has exposed, many, including the Obama administration, are urging a halt to any new deepwater drilling operations. “We should hold off on exploring in some of the deeper basins” Tina Hunter, an assistant law professor at Bond University in Queensland who studies offshore oil regulation, is quoted as saying in a Business Week article in June.

According to The Economist, questions have been asked about the $224 billion spending Petrobras has committed to for current projects, such as developing offshore-oil assets. A planned share issue of $25 billion was recently put on hold because of a delay in a government valuation of its offshore reserves.

Claims by local commentators and national politicians that the exploration will create a boom in jobs are a joke. Multinational petroleum companies import workers who need years of experience and global qualifications to work on the rigs. And it is very unlikely that they will use Gisborne’s port as Tauranga is much better placed to host the operation if the company choose to use a land base.

As the easy to extract oil and gas has already been found and taken, those who protested were communicating a simple message: as a region we need to urgently decide how much risk we are prepared to expose our environment, and by association our economy, to in return for some quick cash. The reality is our region bares all the risk, and if something ‘worth’ extracting is found, the Gisborne district will not receive any remuneration commensurate with the level of risk being imposed on us by Wellington.

Gisborne-Napier Rail Fact Sheet

A document I compiled with assistance from the Campaign for Better Transport and distributed at today’s public meeting including Hawkes Bay mayors, Regional Transport Committee and Chamber of Commerce.

SUBSIDIES

  • The cost of maintaining the rail line is $2 million per year.
  • Roading is far more heavily subsidised than rail.[1]
  • The Ministry of Transport did a study in 2005 (currently being updated), which concluded that trucks only meet 56% of their costs while motorists pay 64%, buses pay 68% and rail 77%.[2]
  • Roading is NOT self funding through user charges. The shortfall is $1.5 billion per year for state highways, plus ratepayers fund local roads. So any official that claims that is completely incorrect.[3] That shortfall, made up by taxpayers, is already several times what is proposed to be spent on the rail operation and is far from the only taxpayer subsidy given to roads.
  • The government is planning to spend $21 billion on roads, local road networks are also heavily subsidised through local authority rates (about another $1 billion a year).[4]
  • There are the greater “externalities” of road transport that should also be factored in: road trauma ($3.5 billion), health problems caused by air pollution, noise, loss of amenity, severance of communities and damage to the environment (including greenhouse gas emissions, which have increased by more than 70 per cent since 1990).[5]
  • The cost of maintaining roads (excluding state highways) in the Gisborne region alone is $19.15M (incl. ratepayers contribution of $7.85M).[6]
  • The government will happily sink millions into the Hawkes Bay airport run way lengthening even though there are no airlines guaranteeing to bring in larger planes… or even if there is a market for larger aircraft at the airport. So if the government will take a gamble with that, why not invest in setting up a successful tourist rail service in the region?[7]
  • The government is spending over $40million straightening a short piece of the Napier-Gisborne highway which will result in a net travelling time gain of less than 60 seconds over a 3 hour journey time.[8]
  • Investing $2-10 million on the line would provide the Gisborne region with a line with higher increased speeds for trains. That includes some work on two tunnels (KiwiRail mentioned cost of around $200,000) to allow Hi Cube containers to be moved on rail instead of road (the trucking lobby will be worried about this).

POLITICAL INTERESTS & THE TRUCK LOBBY

  • Anne Tolley received a personal campaign donation of $5,000 from the trucking lobby group Road Transport Forum.[9]
  • The National government is committed to support the trucking industry which is one of the Party’s biggest campaign donors.[10]

EMPLOYMENT

  • A number of local roading contractors will lose their jobs shortly[11]. Having the rail line functional again would mean immediate and long term maintenance and logistics jobs for the region.

RAIL FREIGHT

  • Until Tranzrail killed off wagon loads out of Gisborne (1999-2001) the line had two return freight trains a day and one a day in weekends.[12]
  • Hikurangi Forest Farms new mill may generate enough product to fill 200 wagons a week and other exporters are also interested in the option of rail if it is competitively priced so there could be more than one ‘anchor’ client and the line shouldn’t depend just on HFF.
  • The train speed between these two cities is the same as trucks (and often better due to poor weather, ice and washouts on the state highway).
  • KiwiRail could run the line to the local business conditions. KiwiRail should have a sales manager based in Gisborne and Napier. They should load single wagons if clients only require that. They should have some contracting trucks to pick up freight from clients premises.
  • One train can carry the equivalent of 280 trucks or more. While road vehicle efficiency stagnated over the past 30 years, trains fuel efficiency has increased 104%.[13]
  • Currently the line has one freight train a week, sometimes two.

PASSENGER RAIL

  • It is the most scenic route in the North Island as the line runs along the East Coast, high on cliffs for much of the trip.
  • There is current demand for Gisborne-Napier passenger services and a number of bus services run between Gisborne-Napier (with trains going onwards to Palmerston North and Wellington) there really is no reason why passenger services could not be re-started.
  • Passenger rail demand on some lines has increased over 50% in the past 12 months according to Kiwirail figures.
  • Next year Tranz Scenic will have a number of spare large window carriages as new rolling stock arrives for the South Island long distance services).
  • Passenger rail has many advantages over buses – the scenery is far better (that’s why the Tranz Alpine train contributed to the end of bus services between Christchurch & Greymouth); on-train buffet car, toilet facilities, larger seats and tables for working while travelling, larger windows and open air viewing platforms; rail line has been less susceptible to closures/washouts than the highway.
  • A daily passenger train could also be used to haul some freight wagons (as the Northerner did until the 1990’s, and many trains do overseas) – this would mean more freight options for Gisborne clients.
  • Gisborne can benefit in more ways by keeping the rail line open and running better freight services. The passenger services will be the cream on the top to bring the region forward to more tourists, both domestically and internationally. Perhaps even Hawkes Bay airport would benefit with future airlines connecting from Australia, then passengers taking the scenic train service to Gisborne? The Tranz Alpine service was once almost about to close until one entrepreneurial staff member at NZ Railways came up with a tourist train. 20 years later it carries the most passengers out of all long distance trains! The same could be done on the Gis-Napier line thanks to its scenic opportunities.
  • The Dunedin City Council owned Tairei Gorge Railway, based on a scenic branch line out of Dunedin which was threatened with closure in 1990. It is now a highly popular and successful operation.

[1] NZTA report, Oct 2009

[2] www.transport.govt.nz/research/understandingtransportcostsandchargesuttc/

[3] NZ Herald, 22 June 2010

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

[6] GDC Annual Plan 2010-2011

[7] http://alturl.com/e2cf

[8] www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0902/S00145.htm

[9] www4.thestandard.org.nz/nats-still-involved-in-dodgy-donations/

[10] http://alturl.com/ys3z

[11] The Gisborne Herald, 21 June 2010

[12] The business case of using KiwiRail only for bulk freight came about during the failed “Beard Era” of chairmanship of Tranzrail (1999-2001). Beard, at great cost of traffic and revenues to Tranzrail, closed down freight terminals and sidings to factories throughout NZ. Just a few years earlier under chairmanship of Ed Burkhardt Tranzrail built the Gisborne line up to 20+ trains per week.

[13] http://alturl.com/j52k

Keep ECT under community control

The Council meeting on Thursday this week should be of interest to every resident of the region. At stake is over $200million in assets held by Eastland Community Trust on behalf of all Gisborne residents.

ECT Trustees want to change the rules that govern how they are appointed, they want to take the decision making away from Council as the sole decider of who should govern the Trust on behalf of the community.

The Trustees also want to limit the capital due back to GDC to the amount originally provided when ECT was established rather than the capital base that will have been grown by the time the Trust winds up.

And they want to make these big changes, at least one of which appears contrary to the rules under which the Trust was established, very quickly.

The report that Council CEO Lindsay McKenzie has put to Thursday’s meeting suggests Councillors don’t have to ask the community what our preferences are on these matters. He also expects to put new information before Councillors at the meeting on Thursday which the public will not have access to prior to the meeting. Mr McKenzie suggests Councillors take into consideration the views of their constituents, but given the rushed nature of this process, I wonder how those Councillors, who want to consult, could canvas a representative sample of residents in such a short time.

ECT say they want GDC out of the full control of Trustee appointment because it prevents ECT from being exempt from income tax on the profit made by the Trust’s investments. My first problem with this suggestion is that the only evidence presented on this being an accurate assessment of the situation has come from a lawyer acting on behalf of the Trustees. What GDC need to know is whether or not IRD and the Charities Commission will grant the Trust charitable status. The next problem with the proposal, if IRD say ECT can’t be income tax exempt, is whether the less than $1million the Trust would save in tax payments is worth losing democratic control of the Trust for. In a worst case future scenario we could see the Trust assets captured by a small group of ideologically motivated individuals who look after their mates at the expense of the region’s economic and social wellbeing.

ECT are proposing an electoral college structure with two appointments being made by the Trust and two coming from GDC with the fifth coming from the Law Society. They are justifying the need for more ECT membership of the electoral college on the grounds that ‘Trustee skills, acumen and contribution’ are conveyed and considered in the appointment process. I’m not sure why the Chairperson needs to be on the decision-making body, he or she is already able to convey their preferences and needs to the appointment panel under the current structure. Given the demographic imbalance of the Trustees to date, it is hard to see under-represented sectors of our community having a greater chance of being appointed as a Trustee under the proposed regime.

If the Trust did need to change the appointment process to become charitable, and if the benefits outweighed the costs of changing the process, a more effective way to choose Trustees could be through tri-annual elections that could be held at the same time as local authority elections. This would ensure we retain the principle of community control over the Trust.

ECT is the economic nest egg for future generations established with community resources and it needs to remain under community control for community benefit as long as it is in existence.

What we need is an independent regional think tank…

The quality and importance of a number of recent publications from the New Zealand Institute reminded me of the value of independent think tanks. I believe we need a regional equivalent – something like ‘The Gisborne Institute’.

The purpose of such an entity would be to stimulate debate and progress on critical issues facing the region and to influence regional leadership and policy-making – primarily on economic issues but also social, cultural and environmental development.

Such an institute would collect, analyse and promote the best thinking and evidence from local, national and international sources that can be used by everyone in the region to accelerate sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental development.

To realise this kind of function and to retain any kind of independent voice it would need to be autonomous from but have constructive relationships with political institutions (regional authorities including Council, iwi organisations and central government), local business networks, special interest groups and political parties.

Why do we need an independent entity to stimulate thinking, debate and action? GDC does not have any spare change and is chronically under-resourced for the responsibilities it has to fulfill. Limitations exist within local authorities and interest groups to think outside the box and undertake the robust independent research and analysis required to find solutions to our most pressing issues.

We need locally focused thinking that isn’t constrained by the pressures on politicians and limitations on what they think is possible – even to investigate. We need good research on what works here and elsewhere that can be learned from and adapted to solve our problems.

The criteria for choosing issues to work on could be based on similar questions to the three that the New Zealand Institute uses:

  1. Does it matter? (Is it a critical issue for the future of the region?)
  2. Do we think we have something new/different and useful to say on the issue that others aren’t looking at?
  3. Is there a window of opportunity to make a difference? (What is happening in the current political/economic environment that would support or limit policy change on this issue?)

Critical issues facing the Gisborne/Tairawhiti region world may include things like:

– population change and positioning the region to attract talent (scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, etc.) and financial investment to support the innovation and development these highly skilled people often need to realise their ideas;

– managing environmental changes including planning for the impact of rapid oil price rises on the region, carbon credit trading, hill country erosion control and the maximising productive use of available land and water resources in the region;

–  increasing net inflows of money to the region from external sources without compromising the assets of the region – primarily through more high value goods and services being sold to customers outside the region;

– cost of living issues including housing affordability and rising fuel and electricity prices;

– reducing disparities in health and education – particularly for young Maori;

– better alignment between the workforce needs of high value industries and training opportunities available to residents;

– the digital divide and the quality/rate of telephone/broadband access in the region.

Such an entity could initially employ just one full time researcher/advisor with a discretionary budget for expert assistance on specific projects, communications and administration overheads.

The institute could exist as a stand-alone organisation or it could be connected to, but at arms length from, the Eastland Community Trust.

A small governance group with representatives from the business and community sectors would oversee the institute with advisory members from the education, cultural and environmental sectors.

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.

Council & Housing

affordable_housing

Residents group rejects claim Council being asked to subsidise housing

A spokesperson for Kaiti Residents Association Ka Pai Kaiti, is rejecting claims by Councillors that the Gisborne District Council are being asked to subsidise housing costs for low income families.

Manu Caddie has pointed out that the proposal he put to the Community Development Committee last month specifically said that no new money needed to be spent by Council on the issue.

“We had three simple suggestions – the first was that accurate information on housing in the region be monitored by the Council; second, that an Affordable Housing Strategy be developed; and third, that an advisory group be established to provide input to Council and other organisations like Housing New Zealand on local housing issues.”

“All of these activities can be done within existing staffing and are squarely within the responsibilities of Council as defined by the Local Government Act” said Mr Caddie. “A number of Councillors view the GDC public housing portfolio like an albatross around their neck and these recommendations would actually provide some clarity in terms of the role of Council in relation to housing. Some decent deliberation on the issue might provide opportunities for alternative arrangements including a local housing cooperative or housing trust that could own and manage social housing instead of GDC or Housing NZ. Some estimates suggest this could realise up to $10 million in addition to ongoing savings if Council was no longer a direct provider of social housing.”

Mr Caddie believes it is a waste of time waiting for central government to come up with a solution for affordable housing.

“The skills, resources and commitment exist within our region to develop housing options that fit our people – what we need is political support, particularly from local authorities to coordinate a regional approach.”

Mr Caddie said he spoke briefly to Phil Heatley, Minister of Housing, last week about local housing issues. “The Minister seemed genuinely interested in supporting communities who know their needs, identify sustainable solutions and are clear about the respective roles that both central government and local authorities can play in facilitating positive change.”

Last week Housing New Zealand started advertising a number of local properties for sale and Ka Pai Kaiti are afraid the houses will be snapped up by absentee landlords.

“I hope these properties are purchased by people who will actually live in them and contribute to making our neighbourhoods places we can take pride in” said Mr Caddie. “If we had a regional housing strategy in place, residents may have been better prepared by putting structures in place to take advantage of the opportunity for the public good rather than just private gain.”

Mr Caddie also took issue with claims that the issue of affordability had yet to be clearly defined and referred to a 2004 report by the Centre for Housing Research Aotearoa New Zealand entitled ‘Housing Costs and Affordability’ that provides a comprehensive discussion on ways to assess housing affordability and a clear definition from the New Zealand Housing Strategy Affordability Report published in 2003.

“We agree with Councillor Cranston that lifestyle priorities and financial management skills can have a big impact on whether housing costs are met – Ka Pai Kaiti has supported a range of projects in these areas over the past ten years. But we also know that hundreds of families in our community are not wasting money and are still struggling to keep the roof over their head, food on the table, clothes on the kids and turn up to work every day.”