Rich Rates

A few years ago, billionaire Warren Buffett blasted a tax system that meant, without even trying to minimise his taxes, he paid less than half the tax rate of his secretary. He said government policy had “accentuated a disparity of wealth that hurt the economy by stifling opportunity and motivation”.

We have seen a similar situation is at work in New Zealand as Labour revenue spokesperson Stuart Nash revealed the average farmer pays only slightly more income tax than someone on the unemployment benefit and less than a couple living on the pension and since the top tax rate dropped in the mid 1980s income inequalities in this country have steadily increased.

This week Council will be deciding a recommendation from the Mayor that we ask government to increase the proportion of how much of the cost of Council services can be included in the Universal Annual General Charge. This would effectively add $100 extra to the rates demand on lower income households in much the same was as National’s income tax cuts and GST increases are shifting government costs from those who can most afford to pay their share on to the poor. While the $100 going on to the UAGC would be offset by a reduction in some other rate, the change would give benefits to the most wealthy and increase the amount paid by those living in lower value properties.

After a national consultation process involving international research, thousands of submissions and public hearings the Shand Report in 2007 actually recommended that government remove the UAGC entirely and base local authority rates on capital value alone.

Some people argue that the capital value bears no relationship to the ability of owners to pay the rates that their property values attract and therefore capital value based rating is unfair and illogical. The empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

Findings from a project co-funded by Treasury, the Foundation for Research Science & Technology and the Royal Society of New Zealand on these issues was published in 2009 by Dr Arthur Grimes and Dr Andrew Coleman from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. Part of that research analysed the relationship between income levels and property values. The study accounted for the issues associated with farms, Māori land and other factors that could distort the figures if only urban properties were used.

The report shows that there is a strong positive relationship, at the individual household level, between capital value (CV) and household incomes and an even stronger relationship between property CV and household net worth (i.e. household wealth).

Overall, therefore, while there will certainly be some income-poor (but possibly asset-rich) households in high CV houses, this is an exception. The relationship between CV and income is strongly positive. One way to get around the problem of income-poor but asset-rich retired households living in high CV houses is to allow them to accrue their rates to their estate as provided for by Gisborne District Council’s rates postponement scheme and rural properties get rated proportionally to their proximity to services through the five Rating Differential Areas.

Average rates increases for the next financial will be well under the rate of inflation, Council’s financial sustainability and affordability recently got a ranking of 26 out of 73 local authorities and economists at BERL ranked Gisborne District Council 12th of 72 for economic performance in 2010.

So, if there is independent analysis suggesting that there is not a strong relationship between household income and capital value it would be good to see it before we suggest government lets more rates be loaded onto the households that the existing body of research suggests can least afford it.

San Pietro and the fight against fascism

A navy tender carrying police moves in to apprehend the tribal fishing boat San Pietro, from under the bows of the seismic survey ship Orient Explorer in traditional fishing grounds off East Cape. Saturday April 23, 2011 Photo: Greenpeace/Malcolm Pullman

San Pietro has been critical in the fight against fascism – the Italian village, where 16,000 allied casualties resulted from a pivotal battle, was key to eventually driving the Germans out of Italy after victories in the North Africa campaign.
“It is significant that San Pietro was a turning point for the allies and I believe it will be in our local struggle too” said District Councillor Manu Caddie.
“Using our own military to defend a foreign corporation and arrest and detain fishermen undertaking their customary rights in their traditional fishing grounds is a national disgrace” said Mr Caddie.
“The real criminal is the Government who issued a deep sea drilling permit with no background check on the safety and environmental history of the company, no consultation with affected communities and no assessment of environmental effects.”
Mr Caddie said the New Zealand National Party policy of auctioning off the country for mining exploration was irresponsible and would no doubt be the subject of years of litigation for groups of people who had better things to do with their precious time and resources. “Dictating what will happen in our district by opening up national parks and our coastline to transnational corporations for fossil fuel extraction shows contempt for local wellbeing and will face fierce and sustained local resistance.”

You Give Ludd a Bad Name…

Opponents of Petrobras drilling off East Cape have been labelled Luddites. This month is the 200th anniversary of the British Luddite protests and I appreciated Mark Engler‘s exploration in ‘Dissent‘ magazine of whether or not those demonstrators of old should really be described as anti-progress.
The Luddites did not oppose technology per se, but rather asked some important questions about the ends to which new technological discoveries were being used and who in society would benefit from them.
The original Luddites were neither opposed to technology nor inept at using it. Many were highly skilled machine operators in the textile industry. Nor was the technology they attacked particularly new.
The Luddite disturbances started when British working class families at the start of the 19th century were enduring economic upheaval and widespread unemployment. The war against Napoleon had ‘brought the hard pinch of poverty to homes where it had previously been a stranger’. Food was scarce and rapidly becoming more costly. Then, on March 11, 1811, in Nottingham, a textile manufacturing centre, British troops broke up a crowd of protesters demanding more work and better wages.
That night, angry workers smashed textile machinery in a nearby village. Similar attacks occurred nightly at first, then sporadically, and then in waves, eventually spreading across a 70-mile swath of northern England. Fearing a national movement, the government positioned thousands of soldiers to defend factories and Parliament passed a measure to make machine-breaking a capital offense.
As the Industrial Revolution began, workers naturally worried about being displaced by increasingly efficient machines. But the Luddites themselves were totally fine with machines. They confined their attacks to manufacturers who used machines in what they called “a fraudulent and deceitful manner” to get around standard labour practices. They just wanted machines that made high-quality goods and they wanted these machines to be run by workers who had gone through an apprenticeship and got paid decent wages. Those were their only concerns.
Ironically opponents of oil and gas exploration in the Raukumara Basin are calling for more investment in clean technologies like solar and electric vehicles to replace our reliance on old technology. Arguments about technology (much like those about deep sea oil and gas drilling) often come down to legitimate debates over values. I would like to see some more discussion on competing values in the current debates on mining in this country.
One of the more prominent supporters of the Luddites is poet-farmer Wendell Berry. Berry writes: “Like almost everybody else, I am hooked to the energy corporations, which I do not admire. I hope to become less hooked to them. In my work, I try to be as little hooked to them as possible. As a farmer, I do almost all of my work with horses. As a writer, I work with pencil or a pen and a piece of paper.” When branded a Luddite, Berry rises to the group’s defense. “These were people who dared to assert that there were needs and values that justly took precedence over industrialisation,” he writes; “they were people who rejected the determinism of technological innovation and economic exploitation.”
We would do well to maintain such skepticism today, Berry contends. He does not reject new inventions out of hand. He flies in airplanes, drives a car, and cuts wood with a chainsaw. But he is not willing to accept technological “advances” for their own sake. He challenges us to ask “what higher aim” each new innovation serves, and what its likely impact on our communities will be.

Neighbours Day Everyday…

I met a wonderful couple this week, grandparents with huge hearts for their family and for other local families. Born into poor circumstances themselves, this couple know what it is like to really struggle. They have tragedies in their own extended family to deal with but wanted to know how they could help Kaiti kids reach their potential.

These grandparents want to connect with other people their age and younger ones to talk about how their generation can make more useful contributions to young families in Gisborne.

We talked a bit about Tairāwhiti Positive Aging Trust and other groups that support seniors to be active in wider community life. Healthy churches, marae and sports clubs are still great places for intergenerational relationships to be nurtured and life lessons passed on to younger people.

Neighbours Day this weekend is an opportunity for us to think about the people we live close to but may not feel close to. When we reestablish trust and care within our streets it has been proven to reduce crime, increase safety, school attendance, health and happiness. Every one of us should know that when we have reason to worry, celebrate or grieve, someone will notice and someone will care. Many people in our communities don’t have that support and it is so encouraging to hear when residents are willing to make an effort to be that special someone for a neighbour or family in need.

I also met with a young man this week who is concerned about neighbourhood safety and, with signatures of support from everyone in his street, has been trying to get Council to install speed inhibitors to prevent another crash that could injure or kill a child. Whether or not he succeeds with his campaign for the speed bumps or chicanes (I certainly hope he does), it is awesome to see young people taking responsibility for making their neighbourhood a safe and enjoyable place for those who live there and visit the area.

It has been heartening to see the people willing to make the effort to present their ideas and concerns to Council committees and public meetings over the last few weeks.

Submissions on the Draft Annual Plan are due by 31 March. Whether or not the local stuff you care about is mentioned in the Plan, it is an essential part of the democratic process and you can make a submission about anything you are passionate about.

In the future I’m keen to look at extending the influence residents and (direct and indirect) ratepayers have on the Council budget. Participatory budgeting is a small but energetic movement through which ordinary people directly decide how a portion of their municipal budget is spent. Pioneered in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1990 as a democratisation strategy, the process has spread to over 1,200 cities around the world. From Cologne in Germany to Entebbe in Uganda, the concept is giving more people more control over how their tax dollars are spent locally. An interesting discovery through the models developed to date is that as residents spend time deliberating on the budget with their neighbours they start making decisions based on the collective good rather than individual interests.

Perhaps on Neighbours Day this weekend you could have a conversation about what would be the collective good for your street and the district as a whole? Oh, and please let us know what you decide.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

A goal is not a strategy

A report released this week from independent think tank The New Zealand Institute should be compulsory reading for all local leaders. ‘A goal is not a strategy’ concludes that New Zealand needs to get more businesses to establish themselves overseas, ensure we have a high skilled, well supported workforce and put more focus on the science and technology of industries like farming, forestry and fishing.

The report concludes that lifting labour productivity depends on improving things like entrepreneurship, innovation, skills, investment and natural resources.

The report suggests New Zealand’s most important export sectors – tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing – have lower than average productivity so simply growing these activities without also substantially lifting productivity will not lift GDP per capita.

There are many opportunities in the areas Gisborne excels at, such as agriculture, horticulture and tourism. But information, communications and technology (ICT) and niche manufacturing, along with value-added goods and services based on primary production, are where we need to invest most aggressively.

Ngati Porou schools with support from the Ministry of Education have invested millions in ICT over the past ten years, Lytton High School has been producing world class computing graduates and some of our most successful local entrepreneurs found success through internationalising their business.

I was at the Federated Farmers presentation to the Community Development Committee of Gisborne District Council last week and have some sympathy for their frustrations about the high value of our currency. As the son of a farming family, in the early 1980s I saw similar stress on farming families from record droughts and 24% interest rates.

The reality is that unless our primary production sectors make a quantum shift from high volume, low value exports into new knowledge and technology based goods and services our region will be left behind. Local leaders need to get much better at building the case for attracting some of the billions available for research and scientific investment in our primary industries. The world is hungry and looking for more sustainable production of both food and construction materials. While we cannot feed and house the planet, we can provide new technology and productivity skills to other countries. Organics, biofuels, renewable energy are all industries with massive growth potential this century.

So, where is the strategy for retaining and attracting talent to our district? How can we support local businesses to internationalise their expertise? What are we doing about the social issues that impact on our children and their ability to reach their full potential? What is the Plan B once transport costs make our low value exports even less competitive? Who is doing the thinking and influencing to help our region step up as a model for the rest of the country?

The proposed Economic Development Agency has great potential to lead some of this work provided that it avoids being captured by special interest groups; appreciates the interdependent relationship between social, economic and environmental wellbeing; and encourages the development of national educational leadership from local schools.

We live in a region that has everything going for it – a wealth of natural resources, rich cultural heritage, world class innovators, a clean environment and caring community. We don’t need to follow the path of places like Tauranga that might have gained the world but in the process lost its soul.

Our regional development strategy has to be smart and sustainable in a way that enhances our communities, economic security and natural environment.

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.

Personal Race Relations

The last week has given me a few reasons to think about race relations with good progress in some areas and setbacks in others.

The joint visit by leaders of the National Party and the Maori Party last week provided an opportunity for us to reflect again on how Maori and non-Maori get along locally.

The same week we heard the apology issued by the South African government and two national Rugby Unions to the families of players denied the opportunity to face South Africa because of their ethnicity.

In spite of all its obvious failings, the current government has provided an example of how people with very different priorities can cooperate for the benefit of the whole society. So while John Key may have undermined the good faith of Treaty negotiations with Tuhoe, his government committing New Zealand to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a universal standard by which the decisions of government can be judged.

The Treaty claims process has been incredibly important for local tribes, but one of its many problems is that the process is quite removed from most Gisborne residents. There is a large part of our community who, unless they are highly motivated, will not have a chance to hear the stories or find out how the process arrives at its outcome. Te Ūnga Mai has done some good work in this area over the past few years in terms of trying to create greater appreciation of local history and focusing on schools is a good place to start.

My Facebook page recently became a forum for two extreme ends of the cultural politics continuum and, perhaps not surprisingly, the people who at first traded insults and stereotypes eventually found a way to coexist and reconcile some of their differences. It must be to our peril however if we have to rely on electronic communication to improve race relations in our country! Our leaders could make more effort to create safe space for everyone who wants to share family stories, express concerns and articulate hopes for the future. Instead of assuming that if we leave it long enough, the fear and misunderstanding that still exists will subside – history shows it usually just festers away and gets handed on to the next generation.

My message to John Key and Dr Pita Sharples last week was to encourage their respective local branches to work together around the country. Is anyone else interested in creating spaces that are safe for people from different cultural backgrounds to talk carefully about the things that are important to us – the stuff we have in common and the things we are not all agreed on? If we are going to mature as a country and a local community, we need to learn how to talk about the important stuff respectfully and build trust so we can all move forward together.

The best definition of a leader that I have come across is ‘anyone willing to help’, so I would be keen to talk to anyone else interested in progressing a meaningful and respectful conversation on local race relations. It is difficult. Maori are busy with their own issues and often non-Maori see it as a non-issue, but the conversation is essential if our region really does want to prosper.

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.

Committee Decision-Making

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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.

Young people want a voice

District Council meetings are not known to attract a great amount of attention from teenagers, yet tomorrow’s council meeting is drawing the attention of more than a dedicated few.
The ability for young people to contribute to local decision making will be debated at tomorrow’s Gisborne District Council meeting, following a recommendation that the council move to appoint a youth council.
This report recommends that council agree to appoint Tairawhiti Youth Voice (TYV) to be the youth council. TYV is an established group of young people with 23 signed members that operates throughout the Tairawhiti region with three local councils in Gisborne, Tolaga Bay and Ruatoria.
The group was originally set up to function as a youth council, but so far has had no formal recognition. “Our number one motivation isn’t skating, or running events, or even getting young people jobs”, says TYV member Vaughan Smith. “It’s about working with other young people, listening to their views and making decisions that consider the needs of all people, not just those who can vote”.
Despite the fact that approximately 46 councils around New Zealand have youth councils attached, the GDC has lagged behind in supporting one in Tairawhiti. At 39%, the Gisborne region has one of the highest proportions of people aged under the age of 25.
The proposal does not give any voting ability to the youth council, but rather is to establish them officially as a consultative body, that can be used by GDC in a formal way to provide a youth perspective on any issues that come before council.
Tairawhiti Youth Voice member, Andy Crowe, understands the unique challenges for young people to participate, “We’re not aware of the processes, we’re not aware of how to make our voices heard. We’re used to adults telling us what to do instead of dreaming up ways to make a difference. Young people need to be fairly represented, and what better way to recognise the voice of young people, than through young people”.
Crowe, who also works as a supervisor at the Alfred Cox Skate Park, has seen youth participation work in practice. “Last year, at the skate park, when we asked young people what they thought of the set-up they were really keen to give input into things that they were a part of”, says Crowe. “They were able to figure out amongst themselves ways of resolving differences and deciding on the best solution and finding the resources to make it happen”.
The staff report to Council suggests costs of establishing a youth council will be minimal, as formalising the current relationship with TYV will be far more affordable than starting a Youth Council from scratch. The ongoing costs of supporting a youth council will not be directly related to this decision, but will impact somewhat on the body’s effectiveness. TYV could also reduce some off the consultation costs that are currently born by council staff.
“This recommendation is the result of petitions and submissions over many years on the issue and it has been made possible following the establishment and development of Tairawhiti Youth Voice over the past 18 months and further submissions to the 10 Year Plan this year” said Manu Caddie who first proposed such a structure to Council in 1998. “It recognises the Council’s need for a more enduring solution to the issue of youth participation in local decision-making and it is pleasing to see the positive shift in Councillor’s opinions on the issue over the past few years.”
The decision is expected to receive strong debate, particularly from Councillors who prefer a more streamlined governance model. TYV member Vaughan Smith, for one, is unsure of the reaction that council will have. “We’ve been working really hard to establish ourselves as a group that finds out what young people want. What we’re about to find out, is does the Council want to listen?”
The report is expected to be discussed by the full council on Thursday morning at around 10:15. The meeting is open to the public and is held at the Gisborne District Council on Fitzherbert St.

Local Leakage

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Congratulations to the new Bunnings store on their opening of a ‘community friendly’ business. They did a great PR job. While it may be true that 50 ‘new’ jobs have been ‘created’, selling the same stuff in a community that already has businesses selling those products doesn’t create new jobs, it simply shifts the employment from one company to another… the equivalent of 50 people will lose their jobs because the demand for the product has not increased.

What this kind of change does is increase financial ‘leakage’ from the community as locally owned businesses shut down because the out-of-town and overseas owned companies take most of the money we spend out of the community instead of it being reinvested locally.

The simple economics suggest a net loss to communities when retail businesses who take profits out of the community replace locally owned shops. The more times a dollar is spent in a local location and the faster it circulates the more income, wealth and jobs there are in that location

Michael Shuman, author of “Going Local. Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age”, cites a number of recent studies that have shown how a dollar spent at locally owned businesses will deliver two to four times the economic impact of a dollar spent in businesses owned outside the community.

In recent presentations Shuman has criticised politicians for focusing on how to attract and retain large corporations and failing to champion the development and retention of small local businesses.

Shuman argues that local businesses produce better economic results for communities for three main reasons: 1. They stay put – they don’t usually have big ambitions for growth or need to manufacture goods offshore; 2. They spend more of their money locally – they use local business services like lawyers, stationary suppliers and advertising and any profits are retained locally; 3. There are significant environmental benefits from shifting our diets to eat more local produce and less imported food – packaging, carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption are all reduced when we eat locally.

Our region would benefit from better use of the $700m we take home in annual household income. It would be good to see an organisation like ECT investigate the opportunities associated with the establishment of a regional bank similar to the Taranaki Savings Bank in an effort to keep finances within the region rather than send both our savings and interest payments off-shore. Other communities in similar situations to our own have successfully created local currencies, local stocks and local exchanges (one recent example is: www.thelewespound.org). By spending local money in local outlets we can strengthen the relationships between local shopkeepers and the community. It also supports people finding new ways to make a living.

It may be useful if the Economic Development Unit at Council could provide ongoing analysis on the amount of financial leakage from our community to non-local business and to see Council adopt some concrete plans to reduce the leakage.

Letter to the Editor – Endless Summer or Last of the Summer Wine?

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Recent Statistics NZ projections that Gisborne is likely to have a lower population in 20 years time should come as no surprise. That we are likely to have the fourth highest rate of population decline should be concerning and something everyone in the region is committed to reversing.

I’m yet to see a clearly articulated strategy for attracting people to relocate themselves, their families and business to our great region.

The first place to start would be with the upwardly mobile young people who grew up and left to study, work and/or explore the world. One such young man recently contacted me from Queenstown and said he would love to live in Gisborne again. He thought more young people and families would choose to make the move if the following things were addressed:

  1. providing low cost, reliable access to high quality broadband and mobile coverage across the whole district;
  2. cheaper transport by air and rail in and out of the region;
  3. enhancements to lifestyle amenities like recreation facilities, cafes and entertainment options;
  4. promotion of the relatively low cost of land and houses in the region.

I would add to the list a proper analysis of the benefits of doing business in the Gisborne region compared to Auckland, Hawkes Bay and the Bay of Plenty. This analysis would include the cost of labour, rental comparisons for offices and warehouse space, road use intensity, port charges and education profiles.

It is encouraging to see the “Endless Summer” brochure going into Air New Zealand planes over the next three months, but I can’t help thinking this needs to be connected into a much longer and more strategic plan to carefully position the regional profile with potential residents and visitors. Such a strategy could be something that all of us understand and support for the future of this place we call home.

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:

Adults Attitudes Challenged

Youth advocate Manu Caddie says statements made by Gisborne Citizens Civic Awards winner Murray Ferris, and endorsed by Mayor Meng Foon at the Awards Ceremony last week were typical of the unfortunate and unhelpful attitudes local adults held about young people.

Responding to the comments attributed to Mr Ferris in the Gisborne Herald, Manu Caddie said it was clear such comments demonstrated Mr Ferris had very little knowledge of the positive contributions local young people make to the community.

“Claiming we need to ‘kick some butt’ and blaming young people for being selfish is like blaming the victim for the crime” said Mr Caddie. “Children and young people simply reflect the values of the community in which they are raised. The contradictory messages young people get from the adult world do not make it easy to feel like valued members of their society.”

A survey of over 600 young people undertaken in 2003 revealed that less than one in ten local young people felt that anyone other than their friends and immediate family cared about their ideas or opinions.

In 2004 over 100 young people made submissions to the Gisborne District Council Long Term Council Community Plan simply asking to be acknowledged as full citizens. “Those requests were ignored in the final LTCCP document and now we wonder why young people don’t feature in awards to recognise citizenship” said Mr Caddie.

Mr Caddie said there are hundreds of examples of young people making significant contribution to their community everyday. He questioned how the Civic Awards were promoted and decided upon – what the criteria was, who the judges were and whether it was promoted to young people in a medium that they would respond to. “Not everyone reads the Public Notices – did they take the nomination information into schools, youth groups and organisations working with young people? Did they post information up at the Skate Park and on Bebo, and do young people need to be recognised by some Civic Awards ceremony to actually be making a positive contribution anyway?”

Mr Caddie thinks adults in the Gisborne community need to take a long hard look at the way young people are treated here – it’s not about giving them everything they want, nor about blaming young people for things beyond their control. Children and young people should be acknowledged as full citizens who have the same fundamental rights as everyone else. Young people have some responsibilities as members of a community and research demonstrates that when young people are taken seriously and not treated as second-class citizens they always step up to challenge.

“I attended a public meeting of over 40 people that was on at the same time as the Civic Awards ceremony, it included two local teenagers leading a 30 minute presentation on a United Nations Declaration passed this month. They were not rewarded for doing their research and the presentation, they did it because they care about the future of this country and their generation.”

Last week the Gisborne Herald featured two articles on local school students raising funds for projects overseas and one group going to serve a community in a developing country for a week.

Mr Caddie suggested local adults consider the Circle of Courage as a helpful way of thinking about positive youth development. This model is based on the traditions of the Lakota peoples in North America and suggests that every young person needs to experience four things as they grow up: (1) a sense of belonging and identity; (2) a sense of competence and mastery; (3) a sense of independence and responsibility for making their own choices and living with the consequences; and (4) a sense of generosity and making a meaningful contribution to the world around them.   

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.