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.
Occupation: Retired farmer and company director.
Otago Field Days chairman Paul Mutch was born and raised on the Taieri Plain. He has spent the past 40 years working in property development and landscape architecture, including working as a beekeeper at Macraes Flat, building and managing central city motels in Dunedin and invigorating a large pastoral block for deer and cattle in Dunback.
Mr Mutch and his wife Robin have four children and 12 grandchildren.
In his spare time, he likes fishing and being near the water, art of all kinds and intrepid travel. He has been a professional tenor opera singer for years, and once performed at an All Black test match against Ireland.
Q Why are you standing for mayor?
I have considerable experience in infrastructure development, marketing, and promotion. I can see the potential of unrealised assets in our area and want to create a strong, proud defined identity for Waitaki. My aim is to help our industry promoting community and our community promoting industry.
Q What are the three biggest issues you see in Waitaki and how will you address them?
It’s an image issue. We need council to be the leader of innovation, enterprise and social policy. We need accessibility to affordable and sustainable, healthy, low-energy homes throughout Waitaki. Reinstate rubbish removal for all of Waitaki and development of first-class treatment systems.
Q Describe your vision of Oamaru Harbour 30 years from now.
I want to see the influences of a new generation of locally educated builders and designers reflected in the development of the harbour. This will future-proof the viability and enjoyment of the area. The new generation must be involved from the beginning.
Q Should the Waitaki district continue to pursue Unesco Global Geopark status?
I think, having started the process, we could keep in mind the end result. I don’t believe that a satisfactory outcome can emerge from the existing governance. We are under the watchful eye of a global forum who will be looking closely at our social policies of building, multiculturalism and land use practices. Also, our relationship with global climate change partners. We need a much clearer picture to be presented to the community.
Q Does Oamaru’s central business district need a revitalisation?
I believe the CBD needs to continue to be the beating heart of Oamaru. We must make sure it continues in this role by making it easy and inviting to users. Empty premises need to be used. I suggest that the establishment of a campus of vocationally focused courses would make excellent use of some of the spaces close at hand and at the same time increase the foot traffic and customer base. While parking charges are low, they are a nuisance and recover only a small amount of revenue, probably less than the cost of running them. Free parking is always attractive. Generally the street appeal is bright and cheerful, but all efforts must continue to keep that image.
Q Does Oamaru need an indoor sports stadium?
An indoor stadium sounds great, of course, but the cost needs to be offset by sponsorship. The costs should not be borne by the ratepayers. There are many small communities in the Waitaki area which would benefit greatly from improved local infrastructures.