A few days back we featured Napier MP Chris Tremain’s supportive views on amalgamation.

Now it’s the turn of a dissenter, Napier MP Stuart Nash. He argues that in a combined council, “competing factions would ensure a degree of gridlock that could stifle economic progress and growth necessary to carry the region forward” and that “two very passionate and competent voices advocating for our region, as well as for our unique Hawke’s Bay cities, is better than one.”

Why I am against Napier – Hastings Amalgamation
By Stuart Nash

I have always said that before I would ever contemplate supporting an amalgamation of Hawke’s Bay councils, I would need to see a robust and compelling business case that showed a clear set of advantages to all the residents and businesses of Napier. As yet I haven’t seen anything even approaching this. In fact, like you, all I know is what I have read in the paper.

What I would need to see as a starter before even entering into the debate is:

1.    How the debt differential between Napier and Hastings city councils would be managed. There is no way I would accept a significant increase in Napier rates to service Hastings debt at the expense of further infrastructural, cultural, social and economic development in our city.

2.    How the unique characteristics of Napier would be managed, maintained and enhanced in competition with Hastings interests.

3.    What economic, social and cultural benefits would accrue to the businesses and residents of Napier over and above what we have now.

4.    How a level of accountability to the people of Napier will be maintained when over half the councillors won’t live in Napier or have an affinity to our city. This cuts to the heart of the democratic right of every Napier resident to have a say on what they want to have happen in their city.

5.    Finally, but most importantly, a governance model that ensured the voice of Napier residents and businesses is heard around the council table. I am told an example where this isn’t the case is the management of HB Regional Council leasehold property. Napier-elected regional councillors understand the situation and work hard to find solutions, whereas every idea put forward to alleviate the distress suffered by Napier leaseholders is blocked by a number of out-of-town councillors who do not have, in my view, a real appreciation of the magnitude of this Napier issue.

My strong gut feel is that a combined council wouldn’t serve either region as well as the current model, as competing factions would ensure a degree of gridlock that could stifle economic progress and growth necessary to carry the region forward.

I do believe that regulatory consistency should exist across the region, however, we don’t need amalgamation to achieve this. I know that Mayors Arnott and Yule, and their respective councils, work very closely together on projects that benefit Hawke’s Bay whilst managing the expectations and requirements of their unique cities.

Cooperation is very important for regional development, however, we also need to recognise that Napier and Hastings are quite different cities. This is not a case of where ‘bigger is better’. And surely, two very passionate and competent voices advocating for our region, as well as for our unique Hawke’s Bay cities, is better than one.

I do not support a Napier amalgamation with Hastings.  We are doing just fine, thank you very much Mr Yule.

Stuart Nash

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  1. Just shows how out of touch, National’s supposed Napier MP Chris Tremain, truly is with what the vast majority of Napier people want. Which is, for all the good and common sense reasons, clearly spelt out by Labour’s Napier List MP Stuart Nash.

    PS: As reported in the H B Today. If Mr Tremain is sincere about the Westshore Primary School (PRIME REAL ESTATE) Not closing during his watch -how come a real estate companies sign bearing his name is to be seen on the scool grounds facing Ferguson Avenue, opposite the Westshore Surf Life Saving Club?

  2. Stuart is talking like an MP for Napier -unlike Chris Tremain who talked like a 'national' MP.A practical based approach rather than an idealogical one. I know which one I will vote for next election.

  3. Mr Nash seems to have missed the point. Amalgamation is about what is best for Hawke’s Bay, not what is best for Napier. Stop living in your own backyard and look at supporting our region – if you are a true black and white supporter amalgamation is the way forward where we will create a stronger, vibrant and more united region for our future generations.

  4. “…amalgamation is the way forward where we will create a stronger, vibrant and more united region for our future generations”.

    Really? It’s a bold assertion, but one not backed up with any evidence other than the anecdotal commentary. Explain why it is the way forward and how this will actually work. Rather than making bold statements Anna, answer some of the five points raised by Stuart Nash!

    I like many others have not seen anything to convince me to support amalgamation (from either a Hastings or Napier perspective). The current system may not work as efficiently as we might want, but maybe we should look at improving what we have rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    I, like Stuart Nash and others, won’t be changing my view in favor of amalgamation until I see something more than 20 word sound-bites with no substantive argument to back them up.

  5. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to local government. It’s a question of what arrangement is best in the particular case. And as a Napier citizen I really object to the business lobby, and the local politicians who speak for them, like Yule and Tremain, trying to push through a twin city amalgamation to make things easier for themselves. I like Napier City Council just fine the way it currently operates, and I’m pleased to see Stuart Nash MP speaking out for the majority of Napier residents who feel the same way. Any change needs to be based on far better arguments than we’ve heard so far.

    Napier is

  6. Good on Stuart for sticking up for common-sense.

    It's refreshing to read the views of an MP who isn't just cutting-and-pasting lines provided for him.

    Tremain's 'opinion' was clearly drafted for him by Local Goverment Minister Rodney Hide or his staff.

    We need MPs who want to represent us – not just do the bidding of their political masters.

    Good on Stuart – we need more MPs like you!

  7. Thank you Stuart Nash – you reflect my views precisely…. I moved to the Hawkes Bay 14 years ago and chose to live in Napier because that was where my work was. At that time, I found it hard to understand that there were two councils so close together and, on the eve of the referendum, when I intended to support amalgamation, I had reason to visit Hastings District Council Mayor and management. My welcoming comments (by some neanderthal long gone) "don't worry – you are going to part of us before too long" – I voted against amalgamation!

    Venture Hawkes Bay (aka Hawkes Bay Inc; aka Vision 20/20) demonstrates that the region is incapable of working as a single region, genuinely supporting growth and economic development. Do I think we should amalgamate? Absolutely not! In principle, just as Stuart Nash comments, we can do that NOW! We don't…. So what we are talking about is a takeover! If the key players spent more time on working collaboratively and less time on competing, amalgamation would be an unecessary waste of money, time, and energy.

  8. Anna Lorck seems to have missed the point. Wouldn't Napier want to do what is best for Napier? Why amalgamate for the good of Hawke's Bay when it will likely be to Napier's detriment. Why should we prop up Hastings? I know who I'll be voting for.

  9. The reality is that Hastings and Napier, as "tribes", are two totally different enititys from a hospitality, to a retail , to a residents perception level.. and more..and i'm sure most locals on either side of the river are quite happy with that point of difference!

    I think the salient points Stuart Nash makes are well-thought through and are given from a practical, rather than emotive level..

    Other than the bottom line accounting rationale for amalgamation ( which probably make sense) I think that the upbranding of the differences between the two cities will serve greater Hawkes Bay better than a morphing into one ?.? ( fill in the dots?)

    The point made above by Pauline Elliot about Venture HB, probably sums up the impossibility of single regional branding.

    Maybe one day it will come about, but not in this immediate future…

  10. What do you want councils to do? Planning, building consents, make the water come out of the tap, dog control…? These are all needs that are not so different. I'm astounded that people see councils as a key component of their cities' identities. They are largely irrelevant. The people, their activities and the landscapes make a city what it is. My city slicker friends come to HB for sun, beaches, vineyards, restaurants…and they visit parts under the control of both the HDC and NCC, without realising there are two councils, let alone two marketing campaigns. Hawkes Bay is already a single brand. Surely no one really credits councils for bringing tourists to the region. Napier needs the wineries (of which they have few); Hastings needs the art deco (of which they have much less). The only big issue is the debt, and some sort of differential rating will sort that out.

  11. Paul, what I want a council to do is represent me as a constituent of it… I accept that all the activities you list are the same no matter which council you are under, the difference comes in how these are paid for.

    You mention Dog control. In Napier it costs $85.90 to register a dog. It costs $127.00 in Hastings. HDC will tell you that they have extra costs for Animal Control because of the number of roaming and dangerous dogs in certain area’s of their city. Why should I as a dog owner and Napier resident be expected to pay for that (are you seriously thinking that an amalgamated council would reduce all fees to the lowest level as charged by either of the two original councils)?

    Also you declare that your “city slicker” friends come to Hawke’s Bay “without realising there are two councils”. If this is the case, what harm is it doing having two councils that are working for the people of each city (not for the benefit of your “city slicker” friends)?

    The point still remains, if the Napier and Hastings Councils were serious about cooperating on areas of common interest (such as marketing and branding), they could do that NOW, without any need for amalgamation.

  12. Napier and Hastings act as one unity. We all know how many Napier residents work in Hastings. Napier is the main gateway to HB (port and airport) while Hastings is the larger producer. And as mentioned Tourism is interconnected between Napier in Hastings with Wineries/beaches/Art Deco etc. The two cities heavily rely on each other and small issues of debt could definitely be sorted with different rate schemes for say a 10 year period or until equalized. I am however against CHB and Wairoa being part of the amalagamation as they are considerably further from the Napier Hastings area and are hence very different. And as for people who say Napier and Hastings are different, just think how many Napier residents work in Hastings. Speaking as a Napier resident

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