Rural ward council hopefuls talk threats and opportunities

4:53 pm on 10 September 2022
About 30 people gathered to hear the thoughts of Wairau-Awatere council and mayoral hopefuls on Thursday night.

About 30 people gathered to hear the thoughts of Wairau-Awatere council and mayoral hopefuls on Thursday night. Photo: LDR / Maia Hart

By Maia Hart, Local Democracy reporter*

There was little Marlborough's Wairau-Awatere council hopefuls disagreed on as they talked climate change, Three Waters and significant natural areas at a meet the candidates event.

The impacts of the recent rain event and the state of Marlborough's roads were also hot topics at the event hosted by Federated Farmers on Thursday night.

Five Wairau-Awatere ward hopefuls spoke on their goals should they get elected, including current councillor Gerald Hope, alongside Scott Adams, Sally Arbuckle and Mike Insley.

Mayoral and Wairau-Awatere hopeful Chris Lippiatt also attended, as well as current deputy mayor Nadine Taylor, who is running for the mayoralty.

About 30 people gathered at the Rapaura Hall to hear the candidates.

Arbuckle, wife of Blenheim ward councillor Jamie Arbuckle and hairdresser by trade, said she would work "tirelessly" to improve the state of local roads, and advocate for small townships.

She said she was a strong believer in storing water, so it was available during a drought.

"I realise I may not be your number one pick for council, as I do not have a farming background, however I do believe I would be a good pick for number two as I would bring balance within the community," she said.

She thought the council could do their bit to combat climate change, such as putting solar panels on council buildings, where possible.

Hope, chief executive of the Marlborough Research Centre, told the group he was standing with three main focusses; the future of local government which he thought was under "threat", Three Waters, and the Resource Management Act reform.

Asked about the government's proposal to map all Significant Natural Areas in New Zealand, he thought the way Marlborough had done this to date had been effective, and had been built on a "relationship of trust".

Insley, a viticulture consultant and former chief operating officer at Yealands Wine Group, said he was standing because it was time to give back to Marlborough.

He said Wairau-Awatere councillors needed to have a good understanding of how Government decisions affected the rural community. The role of a councillor was to listen and to ensure the rural voice was heard within the council.

He thought the challenges' council faced were Three Waters, the RMA reform, and Local Government reform, and the Government's review of land transport.

He said he supported the stance the council had taken on its response to Three Waters.

Adams, Marlborough Federated Farmers president and Renwick resident, said at 36 he was the youngest candidate standing.

"It is important that council consists of councillors across a section of ages, so that the views and issues from different generations have their voices heard," he said.

Adams stood for council in 2019, just losing out on the seat which was too close to call when preliminary results were first released.

"Standing for council is a continuation of my commitment and hard work in making sure the rural communities voice is heard loud and clear at the council table."

He said there was no doubt there needed to be some basic standards around drinking water, but not by stripping it out of local Government hands as proposed in Three Waters.

Taylor said she had been fortunate to gather a lot of experience in her last six years on council.

"We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, but we also have a lot of opportunities. I want to make sure that we are tackling the challenges and making the most of the opportunities."

She said the bigger challenges council faced included Three Waters, the damaged Kenepuru Rd, and increasing Government regulations, but the opportunities in Marlborough were "endless".

Lippiatt, a comedian, did his best to draw some laughs from the crowd.

"The reason I'm running for mayor, is again I need to run, my doctor said so ... but even more than that, I love this town, I love this place," Lippiatt said.

"All my siblings are gone, I'm still here. I'm going to be the voice of you, I don't want to tell you what I want, I want to know what you want."

Mayoral candidate Matt Flight did not attend, or Richard Osmaston due to the closure of State Highway 63.

The elections are held by a postal vote, beginning on September 16 and closing at noon on October 8.


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