An empowered community where no-one is left behind

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What do you know about the three candidates who are contesting the 2019 Waitaki mayoral election? The Oamaru Mail puts questions to Katrina Hazelhurst, Gary Kircher and Paul Mutch.

Katrina Hazelhurst

Age: 54

Occupation: Home renovator

Katrina Hazelhurst has put her hand up for the Waitaki mayoralty.

Mrs Hazelhurst moved to the area from Wellington 20 years ago when her husband, Andy Hazelhurst, took a role at Network Waitaki.

She is a mother of two adult children and has business and management experience, most recently in renovating and restoring houses.

She has been visible in the community in her role with Friends of Oamaru Harbour and volunteer work building walking tracks and dog-friendly areas in Oamaru.

In her spare time she is a keen gardener, furniture restorer and reader.

Q Why are you standing for mayor?

My involvement with community groups has highlighted, for me, the need for greater inclusivity and transparency from the council. I want to establish processes and governance that fully incorporate local knowledge and input. I want leadership that demands, and demonstrates, accountability, and that is based on ethical conduct and a balanced playing field where all residents get fair representation.

Q What are the three biggest issues you see in Waitaki and how will you address them?

1: Social responsibility. We should ensure nobody is left behind in our region’s growth, by supporting the most vulnerable members of our community and by addressing the issues of isolation, community housing and crime.

2: We need transparency and public engagement so that residents are fully informed and empowered to participate in council decision-making processes.

3: Our core services need renewed focus. Maintaining and upgrading infrastructure – especially roads – throughout the district is a priority.

Q Describe your vision of Oamaru Harbour 30 years from now.

I envision a harbour area popular with both tourists and locals that can continue to support fishing, recreation and the special wildlife in the area. The public has already indicated in overwhelming numbers that they want our historic buildings and wharves maintained, and that any new development must preserve the tranquillity and charm of the area. Low-cost and community-led initiatives such as landscaping, additional water activities and picnic areas should be encouraged, along with walkways and cycleways to link the Harbour, town centre and Cape Wanbrow. I would like to see the farmers’ market given shelter and better facilities, and Graves Track reopened.

Q Should the Waitaki district continue to pursue Unesco Global Geopark status?

Becoming a Unesco Global Geopark is an opportunity for the Waitaki district to showcase its unique natural landscape on the world stage. Public perception of this project is mixed, with many people confused about the purpose and true impact of a geopark designation. I propose a full review of the project, working with the Geopark Trust and with tourism operators, and I support restarting initiatives – such as guided field trips – to get the entire community on board.

Q Does Oamaru’s central business district need a revitalisation?

A vibrant town centre with a wide range of shopping and services is beneficial to both residents and visitors, and enables both retailers and landlords to make a good living. I would like to explore how council could support businesses in upgrading retail premises, as well as the potential for more residential accommodation above shops. This could provide much-needed housing space, bring life into the area after hours, and more customers for our retail outlets. I would also support time-limited free parking to encourage people to come into town and visitors to stop here.

Q Does Oamaru need an indoor sports stadium?

Yes. A modern sports centre with competition-standard facilities would be a community asset, as a venue for events and sports tournaments, including revenue-generating regionals and nationals. Community consultation would ensure that the final design accommodates as many clubs and classes as possible and the centre would offer activities for young and older residents alike. We should explore possible funding through large private donations that could help bring this project forward from the currently proposed time frame.