Rural ward candidates share their views
Council role in promoting te reo Ma¯ ori acknowledged
In this year’s local government elections, there are five candidates vying for the four available seats in the Stratford District Council rural ward. There is no election this year for the Stratford mayoral seat, the Stratford Ma¯ori ward, or the Stratford urban ward, as in each case, the number of candidates matched the total number of seats available, meaning those candidates were elected unopposed.
In alphabetical order, the candidates standing for the Stratford District Council rural ward are Steve Beck, Grant Boyde, Amanda Harris, Vaughan Jones, and Nicole McDonald.
Voting packs will be delivered to enrolled voters from Friday, September 16, and voting will close at noon on Saturday, October 8. The Stratford District Council uses the First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system, which means the four candidates with the most votes will be elected.
The Stratford Press contacted all candidates by email on Wednesday, August 24, giving them a list of 12 questions to answer by noon on Friday, August 26. They were asked to keep each answer under 100 words. Their answers to these questions will be run in the Stratford Press over the next few weeks, in the leadup to the election. Their answers will also be available online a few days before they run in the print edition, for our Premium subscribers.
One candidate was unable to respond in the original timeframe due to a family bereavement, however, they have now submitted their answers to the remaining questions and as such they are included from now on.
This week, candidates answer questions on their governance experience, te reo Ma¯ori and the introduction of the targeted roading rate aimed at properties with substantial forestry planting.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. What governance experience do you have?
■ Steve Beck: I have operated my own successful businesses since 1985 (farming, trucking, sawmill and farm supplies, engineering/fabrication workshop). I also served as a deacon and elder in a local church for many years.
■ Grant Boyde: Many years of directorships, board-appointed positions, committees, and training courses. Six years on council, chair of farm and aerodrome committee and council-appointed role on policy and planning at Taranaki Regional Council.
■ Amanda Harris: I have served one term as a councillor along with many years being involved in various community organisations.
■ Vaughan Jones: Served on the Toko School Board of Trustees and
fundraising committee for 10 years. Secretary/treasurer of Toko Rugby Club for eight years. Nine years of secretary/treasurer roles at the Stratford Golf Club and currently completing my first term on Stratford council as a rural councillor.
■ Nicole McDonald: I have been on several club committees holding offices as a member and secretary, and I also own and run a successful real estate business and farming operation. We are seeing the reintroduction of te reo Ma¯ori in many areas of New Zealand society, do you think local government has a role to play in this and what do you think Stratford District Council should do or not do around this? ■ Steve Beck: I think councillors must weigh up, and balance, the response to te reo Ma¯ ori for all people of Stratford, and the response should be proportionate to the number of Ma¯ori that make up our community. This can’t be just a “feel-good” thing to do, it must honour and encompass Ma¯ori and non-Ma¯ori alike. This upcoming term will see a Ma¯ori representative becoming part of the decision-making process. I believe we can have some honest discussion on a way forward that better encompasses our entire community.
■ Grant Boyde: Local government certainly has a role to play in this area
and council currently has training and processes in place to address this.
■ Amanda Harris: Local government and local councils are able to provide a specific te reo Ma¯ori link to their communities. I believe this enables them to make it local, provide iwi with space to share their stories and acknowledge te reo alongside English to support a better understanding.
■ Vaughan Jones: Any language is about communication. If the message is not being received or understood then it won’t be meeting its purpose. ■ Nicole McDonald: I think it is great that as a district council we embrace our native language of New Zealand as it is part of our heritage, but we also have to remember some of the community who don’t have the understanding or knowledge of te reo Ma¯ori and still need English as well to function in a bilingual community. Council has recently introduced a targeted roading rate aimed at properties with substantial forestry plantings. This is an attempt to recover some of the specific costs incurred through the damage to the local roads as a result of forestry work. Do you support this
rate and why / why not / what would you do instead?
■ Steve Beck: I do not support the current proposal. Sometimes the fix is found by looking at a situation from a different perspective to find a way forward that doesn’t single out this one industry. Take the average dairy farm for example, approximately 9000 tanker movements would occur over a 30-year period, which is the time to grow and harvest a forest. That equates to around 270,000 tons of logs, yet dairy farmers are not charged for this. There must be a way that is fair on all industry. I feel that more robust discussion is needed with affected parties.
■ Grant Boyde: I absolutely support the targeted rate. In the last five years all ratepayers have paid nearly $1.5 million of unanticipated emergency reinstatement work — this has taken away funding from planned roading expenditure. It is not a sustainable model. The targeted rate is shifting a small amount of the burden of rates to a different type of ratepayer, who have been identified as creating the need for increased expenditure that is being specifically allocated. This only goes into roads, it doesn’t cover the cost of bridge damage or damage
to culverts that ratepayers have also been covering.
■ Amanda Harris: Yes — I support this rate. Although it doesn’t recover any additional funding for roading activities, the rate does allow for the cost to be more fairly distributed to those properties where the land use means more roading activity and damage.
Vaughan Jones: Yes — I support it. Our rural roads were never designed for the impact of logging trucks. QV for this land does not take into account the value of the forest. Even all the rates taken over the last 20 years wouldn’t cover a fraction of the work that would need to be done to improve and maintain the roads for the impact of logging trucks.
■ Nicole McDonald: Yes, I do support this rate at present, but I believe there will be better ways to recover the cost on the roads through technology in the future that could be more targeted, for example through a different RUC for logging trucks and GPS similar to Fonterra trucks.