Housing, health, rates, lifestyle among issues candidates passionate about

As part of the Oamaru Mail’s election coverage, we are profiling council candidates throughout the district. All candidates were asked two questions —

Q.1 Why are you standing?

Q.2 What issues are you most passionate about in Oamaru, and where would you like to see change?


Age: 25

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Q.1 I am standing for the Oamaru ward as I feel it is time for myself and my generational peers to take responsibility in guiding the development of the district. As we move out of a profoundly different period, new minds and ideas are the key to success. I hope to contribute innovation and fresh perspective to the Oamaru ward and district.

Q.2 Housing is the issue I am most passionate about. Without accommodation or a place to call home, Oamaru will struggle to expand and develop in the way we need to keep up with our changing demographic and economic situation. I see an opportunity for the council to make space for new building materials and techniques to fill the delay gaps that plasterboard and other build material supply-chains have caused. Other councils in the North Island have taken the initiative and are incentivising marginal land usage diversification. This is done via native forest planting as part of the ETS in exchange for new titles specifically for new housing. This strikes me as an excellent way to build and develop our district environment, create value for landowners and increase the speed of new building projects.


Age: 34

Occupation: Director aged residential care facility and part-time geologist

Q.1 I’m running to ensure we keep our focus centred around our great qualities — green spaces, historic character and community spirit.

Q.2 I’m passionate about Waitaki District Health Services: we have a once in a generation opportunity for the Government to make good on their promise to provide equitable health care. In this respect the hospital is directly linked to the vibrancy of our town. Good healthcare supports the business community and those who choose this as a place to live hence my focus on this as a key issue. The locality planning framework under Health New Zealand gives the council an opportunity. We need to stand up in partnership with WDHS to ensure we get the right deal, secure contracts for services that meet our needs and understand how the funding streams will flow all while maintaining our status as a secondary level regional hospital. Housing: Waitaki needs district investment in the smaller communities to create vibrant and affordable hubs. Oamaru does not need density development. We need to make this clear to our planners. We also need to ensure immediate implementation of the recent policy statement on protection and management of our high› class soils. Progress: what is progress in the context of a community? It certainly isn’t always synonymous with growth and development so there is a need to quantify the things that aren’t being measured by GDP, understand their social, and environmental value and assess the merit of business opportunity and productivity improvements based on what they will actually deliver to all members of our community.


Age: 53

Occupation: Co-owner of The Curly Fries Co

Q.1 I am not happy with the directionless attitude of our council towards any corner of Waitaki district that doesn’t involve Oamaru and its immediate surrounds and have become outspoken around local politics. We are seeing vast sums of money flowing in to the economic development of Oamaru. An Oamaru-centric approach has created an ‘‘Oamaru District Council’’ mentality, in both council and the town itself. Our ratepayers on the fringes of Waitaki district have been under-valued for too long. Where is the economic development for our smaller towns? I was asked to put my money where my mouth is, and stand for council. I did.

Q.2 I think the priority for every ward is inclusion. If we’re spending money in Oamaru, let’s be spending an equitable amount in Waihemo and Corriedale. Whether it is for water, waste, tourism, housing, economic development, or health, it all adds up to greater wellbeing for every resident of Waitaki. It’s time we stopped thinking as independent places within the district. We can retain our uniqueness in our towns and settlements, while working together towards our common goals as a district. Parochialism is holding us back.


Age: 63

Occupation: Heritage site manager

Q.1 I believe in the Waitaki as a special place with heart. A positive, kind-hearted community with a can-do attitude, that is prepared to roll up its sleeves and make things happen. Waitaki is blessed with the richness of our public assets, and in recent years, the restoration of many of the town’s heritage buildings has seen businesses establish and flourish. I’d like to play a part in realising the district’s economic and community potential.

Q.2 My immediate priorities for Waitaki to grow and thrive are: develop training and employment schemes to attract and retain young people, lead out on ways to offer affordable housing, explore a local transport service that connects us, get›in›behind a new results driven economic development agency creating business growth and jobs, help deliver social projects like the sports centre and Geopark that uniquely identify us, support household composting and help develop a kerbside recycling system, drive cost efficiencies and service improvements through council’s transformation, further develop a youth voice, refresh district signage.


Age: 43

Occupation: General Manager, Oamaru

Pacific Island Community Group Inc,

Waitaki district councillor

Q.1 I am seeking re›election for a second term. I have the governance skills to be able to contribute effectively with visionary leadership and strong strategic direction that focuses on the well-being of our community. I can represent our community cultural needs at the table when making decisions, I am visible and influential when advocating for the needs of our district at regional and national forums and it would be a privilege to continue to serve our Waitaki district.

Q.2 I have had a long standing career in public service. I am a registered social worker and currently employed as the general manager for OPICG, a pan›Pacific, not›for›profit community provider organisation, that delivers a range of social services in our community. I am passionate about economic and community development initiatives that meet the complex diverse needs of our community, particularly around employment, education, health, housing and social needs. I would like to advocate for a continuation of these opportunities for the Waitaki district. I am also supportive of the transformation programme of work that council is looking to undertake to help support a more strengths led service delivery that puts the customer and community at the centre. This sits alongside the future for Local Government reforms. I am also passionate about supporting the health reforms that includes a more integrated healthcare system across Waitaki using the locality network framework and leveraging the rural health strategy and Pacific health strategy and action plans to support the health and well-being needs of our community.


Age: 43

Occupation: Small business owner

Q.1 I’m re-standing because I’m still passionate about the little things that council can deliver on which help improve our everyday lives.

Q.2 Often we look through a lens of big issues needing big-think, big-money solutions, but more often than not, the solutions can be much simpler and the smaller things more appreciated. A school was experiencing recurring bullying cases in the locker room. The caretaker simply unboarded the old windows that had been covered up years ago allowing in the sunlight. The students were involved to come up with a new colour scheme and the locker room was repainted. It was a small price tag, a nicer environment was created, and the students felt some ownership. Outcome, the bullying ceased to exist. Let’s focus on building simple solutions into our planning. Every day we hear that mental health is an increasing issue. Small-step solutions can be as easy as installing new gutter accesses. An elder that felt isolated can now commute to the shops easier, where the social interaction is equally important as the goods. A new pump track or simply a new basketball hoop — the small wins where on a Saturday afternoon you can see three generations spending quality time together. We have issues emerging from Government reforms, but it’s an opportunity to have the conversations. What do we value, what do we need to improve and how do we afford new things? If we take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.


Age: 75

Occupation: Self employed

Q.1 I share the concerns and focus of my nominators, Colin Wollstein and Bernard Wilkinson. I believe we need to deliver what people want but must also find new ways to fund those things. We can’t keep having big rates rises year after year. We must live within your means and be affordable. Plus we must keep opposing Three Waters and work for a future with less Wellington and more Waitaki at its heart. The mayor says it’ll take experience and knowledge to give us that future. I agree. I’ve got the experience, the energy and the knowledge. Those things will be needed more than ever this term and I offer them to you.

Q.2 It was the buildings that drew me here first. I still love the character of the town. I also love the energy, the drive and innovation. We have so many creative, original businesses and adventurous entrepreneurs — more than you might expect in a town with 13,000 people. Also, as support for Rotary’s Bookarama shows, there’s great community spirit and a real willingness to help others. It’s a small town with a big heart. I want the council to encourage all those qualities. I want housing changes. We need to find an affordable way to build affordable housing. Council’s transformation programme must produce real savings. Finally, if we want the government to listen to us, then we must listen to the community. Which I’ve done and will keep on doing.


– No response received by deadline.


Age: 52

Occupation: Owner, Real 104FM

Q.1 Because I believe I have a skill set which is useful to help navigate our way through the post-Covid period. As a father of two teenagers, local business owner and employer, I understand budgeting, negotiation and prioritising needs. I also understand the difference between investment and expense. I want to see real opportunities and sustainable growth for our district to benefit everyone, and that comes from listening, learning and working with people.

Q.2 We have an ageing population and ever increasing costs, and need to attract new investment and people to keep ourselves moving forward and share the load. We also need to create an environment and opportunities which offer our young people a reason to return home after they’ve explored the world, and let us benefit from the skills, knowledge and growth they’ve gained. We have an enviable location and lifestyle potential, and we must leverage that to our maximum advantage. We need to ensure we have proper funding for our hospital and that it remains under local control in whatever form — a fit-for-purpose ED which can cope during times of pressure, and in particular weather related isolation, and isn’t putting undue stress on our fantastic staff. We need to build a fit-for-purpose sports and events centre and see it as an investment rather than an expense — it has so much to offer our local economy. We also need the council to be easy to do business with, welcoming and fiscally responsible. We must work together.


Age: 26

Occupation: Manager at Scott’s Brewing Co and Mother

Q.1 I’m standing because I care about our district, our people, and our future. I have a genuine passion for people and building connections within the community. I love Oamaru and I hope my daughter grows up to love it just as much as I do. I feel that it’s important that our generation is involved in the future decisions ahead for Waitaki. If elected I will act with integrity and will bring fresh perspective, energy, passion, and enthusiasm to our council. I’m standing to be an advocate for you, to ensure you feel acknowledged, heard, and well represented. My priority is that you hold confidence in the council to make the best decisions moving forward for our district.

Q.2 I’m passionate about: community well-being, removing barriers to education to provide knowledge, skills, and opportunities to empower our people, advocating the development of an affordable public transport network to nurture a connected, safe, and inclusive community, keeping our public open spaces, retaining ownership of our hospital and ensuring we are able to offer quality essential services. Where I’d like to see change: councillors to listen and respect the voice of residents, being more open and transparent with public, improving communication and consulting with public more, a bigger focus on community well›being. Educating and empowering people with knowledge, improved service between public and council departments, reducing the amount that we spend on consultants when not entirely necessary.


Age: 32

Occupation: Marketing and communications specialist

Q.1 I have a genuine passion for local issues, I truly care about Oamaru and Waitaki’s future and I would love to be part of the team that helps shape it and can make a positive difference. There seems to be a disconnect between the community and the council at present, and I feel passionately about getting more people engaged in local government, transparency, listening to Oamaru people and effectively communicating their needs and wishes at the council table. I have a good understanding of how local and central government works, I understand the challenges the district is facing and I’m ready to bring my fresh ideas, energy and experience to the table.

Q.2 There are many different issues I’m interested in and opportunities I can see. If elected, some of my priorities include: building a better relationship between the community and the council and improving communication and transparency, revitalising our CBD and supporting businesses to thrive, developing more opportunities for our young people, and making sure youth voices are heard as a regular part of the governance process, progressing the Waitaki Event Centre, advocating for our hospital and finding a better way forward under Te Whatu Ora Health NZ, reviewing how we deal with rubbish, looking for solutions to Oamaru’s housing issues and protecting our heritage and natural environment.


Age: 48

Occupation: Real estate

Q.1 Giving back to the community is important to me, and I realise that not everyone out there can juggle their commitments to be able to serve as a councillor. I am very fortunate in that I can, and it’s a role that challenges me, which I love. The past three years on council have been a huge learning curve, and to not continue for another term when I finally feel like I’m finding my feet in the council chamber would be disappointing for me.

Q.2 Dealing with the council can cause many people a lot of frustration. It’s a confusing operation, and we need to do the job better. The council exists to serve the community, and we need to be an enabling council that helps people through any necessary processes in the best way possible, with efficiency and a smile. We need to improve our communication by providing the facts whenever misinformation starts spiralling out of control. We need to become a council that all of our community is proud of and trusts. Waitaki will be stronger if we can all become more united as a team. We all want the same thing, a great future for this wonderful district, and if we get the basics right, it will make achieving all of the hard stuff that we are facing over the next few years so much easier.


Age: 29

Occupation: Cafe owner

Q.1 I am standing because I look to represent the people of Oamaru and be a voice for our generation. I have a passion for the community of Oamaru and being a part of it means a lot. As voices may not be heard through submissions, Ibelieve there is only one way to represent the Oamaru community and that is by directly having a seat in the chambers. I believe there can be some changes made to ensure us as ratepayers are getting value for money.

Q.2 I am passionate about improving health and well being in Oamaru. This can be achieved by ensuring that the stadium goes ahead and we get what we deserve and that it’s not underfunded. If we want our children to grow and develop within the community this is essential. Also I’m passionate about retaining and looking after the assets that we do own, from green spaces to water facilities. I would also like to see us take more pride in what we own in the district and to see the north end with more vibrant colour and urbanisation and even look into developing community gardens for the people of Oamaru North. With the lack of affordable housing, I would like to see change in the way we house people in our community e.g: medium density housing.