Local body elections: Third candidate enters Waikato District mayoralty race

2:42 pm on 27 July 2022

The race for the Waikato mayoralty is gearing up to be one of the most hotly contested positions in this year's local body elections.

Ra Puriri - standing for Waikato District mayoralty

Ra Puriri wants better public engagement and greater transparency for ratepayers. Photo: LDR / Ra Puriri

Raglan resident Ra Puriri has joined the race to be Waikato District mayor, in a contest with the current deputy mayor Aksel Bech and Waikato businesswoman Korikori Hawkins.

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They will be battling it out to succeed long-standing incumbent Allan Sanson, who is retiring as mayor of the district, which has more than 85,000 residents.

Puriri wanted better public engagement and greater transparency.

"(I want) to find immediate solutions to the lack of community engagement and access to information on key community issues," he said.

"There are three technology-based solutions that would immediately improve engagement and access to information: Antenno, ePlan and Google Docs."

His mantra for change was "less talking" and "fewer meetings".

"(I also want) to improve the pace of learning, innovation and change… To lobby for annual support for every community house in the district… (And) to support the funding of community gardens."

Puriri also wanted to see more autonomy for Waikato District's five community boards to make final decisions on some community matters.

Water, too, was a matter of concern. Puriri said more work was needed to find solutions to the stormwater infiltration issues from businesses and houses across the district.

"This is a serious public health, safety and water quality issue," he said.

When asked how he would fix this issue, Puriri said notifying the public daily would be a start.

"Daily public notification of when the effluent pumps are discharging treated and untreated sewage into the river and ocean. Better swim at your own risk signage."

Puriri said as an elected official, he would ensure that the public was notified when effluent was being dumped into the ocean or the river from any of the treatment plants around the Waikato.

He said a traffic light system could be installed in every location, notifying when the effluent pumps are turned on, and when they were being discharged.

Puriri will have stiff competition from Korikori Hawkins and Aksel Bech in October's local elections.

Aksel Bech and Korikori Hawkins - candidates for Waikato District mayoralty

Aksel Bech, left, and Korikori Hawkins Photo: LDR / Ra Puriri / Korikori Hawkins

Hawkins said she planned to invest in job opportunities, growing small businesses and creating safer communities, while Bech envisions a place where all people can be housed, including facilitating and supporting affordable housing initiatives.

"Most elections become a mind numbing contest of promises. I will do this and I will do that," Puriri said.

"Very little time is spent discussing the nitty gritty of how, plans, innovation and change strategies. People are tired of the promises.

"They only want to know how you are going to get things done. I focus on the how."

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the News Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

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