In our Special Election Edition of BayBuzz Digest, now in distribution, BayBuzz puts forward a First Fifteen Change Team for your consideration. Here they are:

Hastings Council

Wayne Bradshaw (Havelock ward): No HDC candidate standing more deserves to be elected; no current Councillor is more persistent in pressing for financial prudence and transparency, or in raising the question “Is there a better way?”

Adele Mohi-McGoverin (Havelock ward) Havelock North needs to raise the bar on its other representation at Council; someone who will stay close to her constituency, emphasize basic services, be present, and actively participate around the Council table, where policy is made.

Simon Nixon (Hastings ward): he speaks for a sizable constituency; and if he loses for Mayor, he should still be at the Council table raising tough questions for his “back to the basics” constituency.

John Roil (Hastings ward): a solid, successful, independent-minded business voice; through his many dealings with Council, knows what needs to be fixed; a major upgrade in Councillor quality.

Sandra Hazlehurst (Hastings ward): the champion of Hastings CBD; will bring needed marketing savvy to the Council; ready to break some molds; knows the Council “system” and would hit stride quickly.

David Mackintosh (Kahuraniki ward): committed to spending restraint and a “back to the basics” role for Council; knows the rural community well; a straight shooter; strong on the environment … a great package.

Tracee Te Huia (Flaxmere ward): just what Flaxmere needs, a savvy and seasoned senior manager who can fight the “inside the Council” battles, complementing Henare O’Keefe’s values and vision; her professional knowledge of health issues and community partnering brings a needed dimension to Council.

Des Ratima (Heretaunga ward): a born leader; military service; thoroughly conversant with Council issues through his HDC/Maori Committee Chairman role; contributes tirelessly to the community at many levels; and committed to the environment. These qualities would make Des a superb Councillor.

I also support Des Ratima for Mayor of Hastings. He stands for values I believe in and has abilities I admire – he champions the social well-being of our community; he is a sophisticated, bridge-building representative of Maoridom; he has a deep, spiritual connection to the environment; he’s tireless; he has big ideas that don’t involve building edifices; he marries conceptual and practical thinking; and he meets the most genuine test of leadership – he inspires people to follow him.

He is my First Fifteen Team Captain.

Napier City Council

Maxine Boag (Nelson Park ward): a dedicated community leader, active in Grey Power, the Marenui Community Council, and Napier Rotary; but isolated in the current Council … needs some friends!

Robin Gwynn (At-large): former Councillor; has served as trustee of the Eastern and Central Community Trust, the Napier Community House, Radio Kidnappers, and on the Hawke’s Bay Trust for the Elderly; strong advocate on health issues.

Michelle Pyke (At-large): twenty years of experience at every level of community development; skilled team-builder and communicator; hands-on knowledge of the “people issues” that need representation; would be a force to be reckoned with at the Council table.

HB District Health Board

Jeannette Samundsen:  offers a strong business background (make no mistake, while human welfare is at stake, health care is a ‘big business’ facing tremendous financial pressures); a history of community involvement; and – as a provider of age-related residential care, respite and day care services in the region – brings insight into care for the elderly to the table … a significant advantage given the rate at which HB’s population will age over the coming years.

HB Regional Council

Liz Remmerswaal (Hastings ward): in my opinion, the only “dyed-in-the-wool” environmentalist on the Council now; consistent in her support of the environment, not opportunistically so, like several of her fellow incumbents; a reliable protector of our precious water.

Tim Tinker (Napier ward): former farmer and produce marketer; someone with practical knowledge of land and water issues needs to represent the Napier constituency; as an experienced hearings commissioner, he can apply his knowledge to fixing the HBRC consenting process, which he recognizes is seriously broken.

Tom Belford (Hastings ward): I will carry forward my proven “outside” advocacy for HB’s environment to a voting role at the Council table, insisting on integrating environment and economic growth objectives; as the only candidate with professional marketing experience, will provide leadership in promoting sustainable growth in Hawke’s Bay.

You can read BayBuzz profiles on most of these candidates here.

Time for Change

I have no idea whether it will occur, but I hope this election is about change.

In Hastings, a return to the basics. In Napier, a renewed commitment to look after the social well-being of the community. At the Regional Council, a wake-up call that more needs to be done – and more urgently – to protect our environment.

Change surrounds us, and the pace of change steadily quickens. Yet our Councils seem to be functioning on auto-pilot. Councils budget with a built-in assumption that their spending will grow … an assumption no business or household can make in today’s economy. Council borrowing increases steadily because there’s effectively no brake on the process. Decision-making that requires urgency, like more precautionary water management, moves at glacial pace. Slowly developing trends, like the graying and browning of the region’s population, or global warming, are more noted in passing than acted upon.

Part of the reason is that our Councils – our Councillors – have become too comfortable and set in their ways. The “same old, same old” is easy … no heavy lifting required. Whereas change requires energy, curiosity, homework, risk, breaking molds.

Out of 37 individuals, including two mayors, currently serving on the Hastings, Napier and Regional Councils, only five are not seeking re-election. Four are standing unopposed. Of the remaining 28, sixteen have already served at least three terms.

Our Councils suffer from institutional arteriosclerosis. They’re old, stiff, lethargic and fat at the waist. They get winded easily. Unfortunately, unlike with humans, the institutional condition is infectious.

That’s why BayBuzz has focused primarily on challengers. I naturally lean toward new faces in making recommendations for you to consider … the BayBuzz First Fifteen Change Team. I’ve listened to these individuals discuss the issues, read all of their online materials, watched most of them “in action” in other roles, and talked to many other people about them.

On that basis, I’ve made some recommendations, and they are simply that … the candidates who most impress me in terms of being potential change agents.

Yes, three of the First Fifteen are incumbent Councillors ending their first term. Each one – Wayne Bradshaw on HDC, Maxine Boag on Napier Council, and Liz Remmerswaal on HBRC – has been virtually isolated on their respective Councils, picking up the occasional supporter here and there, but effectively marginalised. Not because their ideas are unsound; but because they run against the grain.

I am hopeful that after this election, each will enjoy more reliable support from the others I urge you to consider.

Two questions might arise. Isn’t it the job of BayBuzz to remain ‘objective’ about such matters? And, who gives a hoot about what Baybuzz thinks anyway?!

To the first question. BayBuzz has always been a vehicle for investigating, interpreting and prodding. As editor, I’ve worn my ‘biases’ on my sleeve – our environment needs better protection; our councils need to manage our rates dollars more prudently; their decision-making needs more scrutiny and transparency; we need to ‘raise the bar’ for councillor performance; and we need more innovative thinking and to act more like a region to successfully meet the biggest challenges ahead. And the response to BayBuzz indicates many others feel the same way.

As we follow these issues, we inevitably watch the ‘players’ in action. Our issue concerns are given higher priority or are more effectively addressed by some than others. In fact, it’s impossible to separate the ball from the man (or woman).

Election time is when the connections must be made between issues and individual performance. Yes, I look at the candidates through the lens of the issue concerns noted above; and you will have your own lens, which might or might not have the same focus. None of us will bring “objectivity” to our candidate choices.

To the second question. My perspective on the candidates is based upon three plus years of closely following the issues and the players as Baybuzz editor. Attending hundreds of council meetings, hearings and issue forums. Reading thousands of pages of staff papers and reports, as well as countless submissions and independent expert material. Interacting with councillors, staff, community leaders and concerned members of the public on a daily basis. Digesting all this across three councils (HDC, HBRC, NCC). And trying to make some sense of it all for BayBuzz readers.

I hope you might find that perspective informed and useful as you weigh the candidates over your dining table. Add it to any other information you have at hand. Draw your own conclusions, and whatever you do … VOTE!

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. I read this piece and am concerned by one section…

    “Slowly developing trends, like the graying and browning of the region’s population, or global warming, are more noted in passing than acted upon.”

    I am confused. An aging population, with fewer people to pay and care for them, along with global warming are what I would view as future issues of crisis for all communities, here and abroad.

    I do however take exception to you placing the ‘browning of the region’s population’ in amongst the other 2 global worries. I fail to see what exactly you are referring to when you feel that they should be ‘acted on’. This is a most unusual statement that has been placed in a very poor context.

    If this is how you view our region, I am indeed happy and feel privileged to not have been ‘selected’ as one of your first fifteen change team.

    I only hope that if Maxine, Michelle, and a few of the others mentioned, read the entire article (which I assume they have not done properly), they would also be concerned by your views in this regard.

    Enjoy the rest of your week Mr Belford.

  2. Tom….What a load of bullshit you expouse in your first 15. A lot of those people will not even get out of the dressing room, let alone on the field.

    I presume that you are the hooker,captain and coach, as well as being the selector.

    We shod ourselves of Helen and Peter to the UN, thank goodness, at considerable expense to the country, maybe there is a job for you there too as head protagonist for the down and out.Go by all means….

    This country is too good and precious to be hijacked by an idealistic "Johnny Come Lately" who thinks he knows better than those who have lived here all of their lives.

    A posting in Afghanistan (at your expense) sounds like a good challenge and you will certainly make a big difference to how that country operates……….Yeah Right!!!

  3. Sheer brilliance D Appleton, but as you’ve identified your origins from your references, you’ll be dismissed & told to f*** off back where you came from if you disagree. Perhaps, soon, when NZ flyfishermen start making the long haul flights to enjoy quality trout fishing in England & the USA in their already cleaned-up waterways, they’ll look back & wonder what the hell happened

  4. Good article Tom, IMHO, only spoilt by the good ole emotive catch phrase ‘Global warming.’
    Pollution – certainly a local issue but Global Warming – not so, unless you are using a different definition – other than Man Made CO2 causing earths temp to rise, which has no verified linkage that i can find, and i have been looking for it since 2006. And even if there were; a Hawkes Bay population of approx 160,000 showing the world how it is done – give me a break!

  5. Happy that you support me for at large but sincerely hope I achieve the mayoralty Tom…time for a change & I HAVE paid my dues where it counts, out in the community where the REAL people live. Thanks for keeping the debates going.

  6. What an interesting first fifteen you have assembled, I read the list with interest! My only comment would be, to be truely representative of the community, a council should have an occasional councillor who works in a chalk-face profession (excuse the pun) like I do in a low decile school. It brings home to me, every day, the difficulties many of my students and their families face, and keeps me well and truely grounded. Some of the petty squabbles in Council pale into insignificance with some of the stories I hear every day.

  7. In his "scatter gun" blast at Tom Belford, Roger Gardiner rails against a "Johnny Come Lately" who "thinks he knows better than those who have lived here all of their lives."

    Well, a new person on the scene with the benefit of outside experience not infrequenty points up details unnoticed by those who have grown up locally and always accepted that what surrounds them is normal and wholly acceptable. Thomas Hardy, English poet and novelist, once wrote "he who only England knows, knows not England'" and that tends to be a truism, I have observed, of most single country residents.

    Nearly forty years ago, when coming to live in Hawke's Bay, I was disappointed to observe the indifference of most people to the continuing destruction of native forest and its wildlife; indeed, even the main national conservation society seemed slothful to oppose the continuing destruction of what they claimed to hold so dear and wish to protect.

    In Hawke's Bay, the kiwi was being driven to local extinction as the last areas of land capable of conversion to pine forest or pasture were being cleared and incinerated, along with the wildlfe present. What response did I get from local "industry" when questioning their continuing attrition of the area's wildlife: "oppose us and we shall go to government at ministerial level, you won't stop us," also "young farmer's need farms and there are plenty of kiwis in the Uruwera."

    Such comments came from those who had lived in Hawke's Bay all of their lives.

    While major revenue earners, forestry and farming lie second to tourism in dollar earnings and tourism depends largely upon our national image as a green land where people care about their natural environment. The industrial revolution adage from the English Midlands "where there's muck there's money" might be acceptable to some in New Zealand but there is absolutely no reason why the muck should convert our rivers to open sewers, our land continue to be degraded and the country's natural heritage trashed.

    It would seem that Hawke's Bay needs many more outspoken "new faces" who have benefited from an education while living in other countries as the alternative, parochially and greed driven policies prevailing, predict a grim, poorly sustainable future that need not be accepted as inevitable.

  8. I see Maxine Boag needs some friends. I believe I could be one of them – it is very hard being a change agent on your own.

    I am dissappointed you did not consider a broader field of people to support, however no doubt you have your own reasons.

  9. Unfortunately Tom your glossy brochure reads like everyone elses – too much on the to do list to make it realistic. What really concerns me is that no-one standing for the Regional Council (apart from the sitting member in Wairoa), seems to see the decimation of the Land Management Team under the current Council's watch as a problem. I don't agree with you often but I certainly agree with your "asleep at the wheel" comment. Any prospective councillor prepared to fight for the Land Management Department will get my vote for the HBRC.

  10. I completely agree there is a pressing need for change… but am a little disappointed the breadth of potential change is not fully articulated here. For example, Will Jenkins for Napier and Alan Baldock for HBRC are two I’d support. Overall however the “process of change” is kneecapped by the lack of people standing – especially for HBRC Napier seats. My advice for voters is to be very selective when voting – only vote for those you really want, because every “also” vote means an “also” candidate might win instead of your real choices.

    ps: my own selections will run in my next two HBT columns (Mondays) – was supposed to start last week but unfortunately got dropped in error. No comment.

  11. Amen Roger! Heaven forbid the above listed bunch of misfits get into council. What is the world coming to?

  12. Tom,

    I do not think that I have met you……..Why do you ask? I form my own opinions from what is presented to me.

    As a matter of interest, and this is heresay from a couple of sources, were you a Draft Dodger?


  13. Tom – I have thoroughly enjoyed your take on life in Hawke's Bay. The Bay Buzz has provided me with an interesting and often enlightening commentary on what is happening amongst councils and boards in our region. Thank you for allowing all voices, even when they disagree with you or stoop to personally attacking you. I'm with you though! Your views have been insightfully and intelligently written – a most refreshing change! Relating to the last so called slur on your character, I'm sure that if you were a draft dodger, you chose to be one, as many did in America during the Vietnam War in particular, for justifiable and soundly based moral reasons.

    I also think we need forward thinking to actively create a community that looks after both our environment and our people, and we need many more change agents in place to create this change. That is why I suggest you include Otto Mengedoht in your list of recommended candidates for the DHB. He seems to deeply understand how the DHB works, and his mandate is to provide a much needed voice on the board for patients and frontline service staff. As a concerned neighbour of the drug and alcohol addiction centre Springhill, I was one of those who engaged with the DHB to keep 'Springhill' in its present very beautiful premises. After that battle I now believe that our community needs more DHB board members who will listen and actively respond to the concerns of patients and staff.

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