Fresh Faces. Fresh Thinking. Fresh Start.

Over the two-month lifespan of this edition, we will learn who will be candidates for our 2013 local elections. The official window for declaring is 26 July to 23 August. Who will emerge? And what qualities in candidates might one seek?

One certainty is that virtually all incumbent officeholders will re-stand. Out of Hawke’s Bay’s 49 councillors, perhaps a half-dozen or so (Eileen von Dadelszen, Liz Remmerswaal, Neil Kirton, Kathie Furlong, Tania Wright, Margaret Twigg) will not stand.

Granted, a few incumbents have just recently begun public service and arguably voters will benefit if these individuals bring increasing experience to bear.

Tom Belford

But too many incumbent councillors are well past the gold watch stage … many like Alan Dick, Christine Scott, Kevin Watkins, Tony Jeffery and Faye White would be standing for a fifth term; some like Kevin Rose, Mark Herbert and Dave Pipe running for a sixth term; Cynthia Bowers for a pace-setting seventh term. Nice people one and all.

But how much of them is enough, when sheer longevity and name recognition confers advantages that squeeze out fresh faces and fresh thinking?

Of course, if you are wildly enthusiastic about the present direction of Hawke’s Bay, then you need look no further than the ‘stay the course’ hands of the established veterans. And no doubt ‘steady hands’ will be the claimed virtue of these perennials.

On the other hand, if you’re a voter who’s not thrilled with the state of Hawke’s Bay today, or where it seems to be pointed (horizontal at best, not up), then you might want to be taking note of who is standing, urging fresh faces to stand … maybe even thinking about getting off the sidelines and standing yourself (remember, August 23rd is your filing deadline).

It will come as no surprise to BayBuzz readers that I believe Hawke’s Bay is reclining, if not declining, under the ‘steady hands’ of our political veterans.

But I surely don’t believe that sleep-walking or muddling along need be our region’s fate. Just as I don’t believe we need to clamber aboard growth paths that bleed our environment and natural resources and defy sustainability.
Elected officials without baggage, not needing to defend past policies, and able to provide fresh perspective and wider experiences, can identify better outcomes and pursue them more vigorously.

With that belief in mind, I support term limits for elected officials – three terms or almost ten years in the same office is plenty of time to make a public service contribution, without becoming addicted to the ratepayers’ teat. I’d like to see new candidates pledge to limit their terms of elected service, and then find other ways to contribute further to the community.

Likewise, I support full amalgamation of the region’s five councils, as proposed by A Better Hawke’s Bay. Not as a solution in itself, but as a means to an end.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours monitoring council meetings (I refrain from using the word ‘deliberations’). And could write a book about the duplication of effort and expenditure, patch protection, back-biting and conflict over priorities I’ve seen that hold back our region from its better aspirations. If the stakes weren’t so high going forward, it would be a comic book.

We simply must re-boot Hawke’s Bay governance – reorganise our public sector to better plan for the future and more wisely use our limited financial and natural resources. I’m optimistic that the needed reorganisation will occur next year.

But both ingredients are needed for change to occur.

A new structure overrun by old faces will be infected by the habits of the past.

And conversely, fresh faces thwarted by existing counter-productive structures and processes will soon become dulled, disillusioned … and co-opted by council staffs quite content with the status quo.

Change is scary. But it’s what Hawke’s Bay needs this election year. Not a warm bath of reassurance from the old hands.

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1 Comment

  1. To the Editor “Bay Buzz”
    Re: Engineers and “What How and for Whom”
    What?
    Simple answer; 25,000 ha flat land, in need of some more water to produce more economic output.
    So the land is flat, but is it consistent in depth and soil type to be efficiently irrigated? Takapau Silt Loams (& similar adjacent soil types) are “Hydrophobic” and following irrigation, a high proportion of the water evaporates. Takapau et el soil types, have very high anion absorption, i.e. fertilise with Phosphate and less than 5% is plant available. Takapau et el soils are low in Organic Matter, coupled with shallow depth, and low bulk density, causes three problems: low water holding capacity, limited ability to supply plant available nutrients, and extreme difficulty in achieving perfect irrigation events.
    A perfect irrigation event is that irrigation water is applied; the wave front of water moves through the soil profile, and this irrigation water wave front is fully used by the plant or retained in the soil’s water holding capacity. Irrigation water escaping the soil profile causes leaching of the expensive fertiliser that is only 5% available to start with, and remember the cow defecating throwing excess nitrogen at the soil, which then allows for Nitrates into the river systems and aquifers.
    To talk about the climate differences, between the Ngatarawa Takapau Silt Loams and the grapes they grow compared to the much larger area of TSLs in Ruataniwha plains is another 500 words.
    How?
    Engineers have this one covered. My question is that, are we in a discovery and feasibility mode, and that the whole picture must be assessed, before the dam is designed? An Engineer assessing the failed irrigation dam near Seddon, “everything is fine, see it did what it was designed to do, nobody died,” (not a quote, but my interpretation on his spin on the situation.)
    For Whom?
    The existing landowner, Fronterra shareholders, Chinese Consumers, Philippine and Sri Lankan dairy workers, or Pacific Island fruit pickers…? My beef is that much more money of the $22 million should have been spent on Agronomic analysis.
    In the real world, not a consultants computer, Takapau Silt Loam’s Dry Matter annual production under irrigation are averaging 9 tonne / ha and an average non irrigated Waikato farm production is 11 ~ 12 t, including droughts. A dairy farm trying to be economic at 9 t / ha is very vulnerable to milk price fluctuations, unless they change their practices, e.g. adopting Biodynamic practices. (Note Biodynamic practices are not recognised as NZ Dairying Best Practices.)
    I propose that the most economic horticulture and arable land on the Ruataniwha plains has been identified and utilised. The over allocation of irrigation water rights on the Ruataniwha plains, does not need a $500 million dollar hammer to fix this problem. That any expansion of Dairy Farming must be very well modelled for economic benefit, and environmental sustainability, without the umpire changing the rules during the game. (Umpire = HBRC)

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