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TCDC Council candidates

This week we present four of the seven candidates standing as Councillors for the

TCDC Mercury Bay Ward in the upcoming local body elections. The remaining three - Grahame

Christian, Deli Connell and John Grant - will be published next week. The Informer expresses

no political bias. The Mayoral candidates were presented from A to Z, this time the candidates

are listed from Z to A.

Candidates for Thames Coromandel District Council

There are seven candidates from Mercury Bay area standing for Counil (TCDC). Only four can be elected. Vote carefully.

Candice Van de Ven – candidate for councillor TCDC, Mercury Bay Ward

“I am standing for Council because I believe we as a community are in for some significant changes and challenges moving forward; we are facing economical struggles, housing shortages, rising sea levels and labour shortages to name a few. Many of these changes are inevitable after the past two years of Covid, as well as with rising temperatures and accelerated climate change. Councils will need to work collaboratively and strategically in order to plan ahead, be pro-active and ensure progress rather than downturn for our area. Strong community and council relationships will be vital in order to achieve progress. I have the energy, passion, and willingness our region needs to be pro-active, ensure infrastructure is well planned, and delivered where and when it is needed. I believe we need to futureproof our region and work at making it a place young people want to, and are able to, live, work and thrive”.

A dedicated mother of four young daughters aged between 2 and 10, Candice is currently working as a part-time teacher at Mercury Bay Area School. She grew up in Thames as a teenager, went to Waikato University where she studied to become a teacher and returned to begin her teaching career at Thames High School. Candice and her husband currently live in Matarangi, where together, they own and operate a building construction company that works peninsula wide.

Candice is extremely passionate about the wider TCDC community, the resources we have available on our doorstep and the lifestyle, it allows everyone to enjoy.

“In 2016, when our third child arrived, I realised there was a desperate need for baby swim lessons in Whitianga, and proceeded to open a learn-to-swim under five swim school, which had over 147 little children enrolled. After my fourth baby was born in 2020, we moved to Matarangi and in 2021 I went back to part-time teaching at Mercury Bay Area School while still being an integral part of our building business. I am extremely passionate about swimming, water safety and the importance of having an all year round swimming facility in the Mercury Bay Area. We are surrounded by water; learning to swim, survive and be comfortable in water is an essential life skill that we need to have available for all ages in our area. Youth sport is also a passion and I love to coach, and be involved with children achieving their sporting goals.”

Candice has a strong affinity with our younger community whom she would like to see remain in the area and become active and contributing members of society. “Helping to develop pathways for our youth from school through to full employment and contributing to the local economy and feeling empowered and valued is high on my agenda. I would like to encompass our ‘small town’ values, support local, work together, help each other, and work collaboratively in pursuit of a shared goal”.

She says she is never afraid to get involved or speak up and will not sit on the side-line and wait for things to happen. Candice says, “I will be a trusted voice for our Mercury Bay Community, representing them with honesty, integrity, reliability and relatability, as we collectively face the challenges ahead.”

Ivan Steenhuis

Ivan says he would love the opportunity to be part of a team that is motivated to drive Mercury Bay and the greater Coromandel into the future. To do that he says, good communication and listening to the community is vital.

“For some time I have felt compelled to become involved in local council and to encourage community based solutions to the issues we will face in the near future. Being involved within the wider community is nothing new for Ivan and his wife Irma. Since moving into the Coromandel region from Auckland some 22 years ago, they have both been involved in a number of community activities including various children’s programmes, the St Andrews by the Sea church extension and the church op-shop. “It’s a great way to meet, get to know and learn more about the wider community’s needs “says Ivan.

Ivan and Irma have lived in Whenuakite for the last 20 years and in Whitianga for two years. “Over the years I have been involved in a number of different trades, including baking, building and landscaping. For the last 16 years, we have been running a beekeeping business so consider myself well-rounded and able to adapt and work with people to help achieve common goals”.

They are also both very passionate about the environment and walk-the-talk as much as they can.

“We moved here for a lifestyle change and try to live as eco-friendly as possible, living off-grid in a earth brick house that we built ourselves and are passionate about recycling and minimizing waste, restoring our native bush and planting edible gardens. I believe things like community gardens and permanent farmers markets would go a long way to help mitigate food shortages that are possibly imminent within our wider community in the future.”

Keeping a tight rein on Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) spending is also important to Ivan. “We need to eliminate unnecessary costs and carry out proper due diligence in regards to any future budgeting and spending. As a Councillor, I would also actively support any moves to ensure that the older generation is looked after in our community, such as provision for housing that is close to all necessary amenities.

Ivan believes the Government’s Three Waters plan should be avoided. “It will remove the control we have as ratepayers and I also believe that local councils should be self-governing. I would like to see the Coromandel Peninsula become more of a destination, rather than a thoroughfare and to do that we need improvements in roading, boat ramps, footpaths and increasing the cycle trail network.”

Rekha Percival

Rekha has served two terms on the Mercury Bay Community Board. She was appointed Deputy at the start of the first term and when the incumbent chair, Paul Kelly, died part way through the first term, it became a baptism by fire. However, Rekha says, “I brought a fresh new voice and a perspective of a young family returning to Mercury Bay. I grew up here, went to school here and then left for university and travel. In travelling, my partner and I worked in Australia, Netherlands, London, before returning home to New Zealand. It was our plan to return here.”

Rekha has done a thorough apprenticeship on Community Board, and has learned a lot about the workings of Council and understands the needs of the local Community Board. She is passionate about this district and is proud of some of the achievements of which she has been a part - the main street upgrade, new play park area and skate park in town, the groins installed at Flaxmill Bay (for example) and the boat ramp upgrades.

“I bring organisational skills and I can build a team and without that, we are not going to achieve anything. We need to work closely with businesses. Hames Coromandel District Council, on which I hope to be elected a councillor, is the ‘steering of the Coromandel Peninsula ship’. There are things that will require steering through to enable people to navigate these as a district and understand them - Three Waters, Resource Management Act, Local Government Act. There are big changes coming and none of us can be certain just exactly what the changes will look like. We cannot do away with all the problems, but we can provide alternatives that are progressive and positive to help residents and businesses, plus add to the quality of life for everyone.”

Rekha is clear that this election needs to produce some leaders to enable everyone to navigate through the changes and adapt. “I bring experience and I will continue to act with honesty and I will continue to deliver. It’s time to take my Local Board hat off and be a councillor on TCDC.

I’m a business woman and wife and mother of three children. I understand spending and overspending and want to unlock just how the overspending occurs and how we can achieve the necessary improvements without overspending.”

Caroline Hobman - Standing for Thames Coromandel District Council and Mercury Bay Ward

Caroline is standing for TCDC and the Mercury Bay Ward because she believes greater consultation and communication for the local communities is needed and long overdue.

“I firmly believe that sharing the journey of finding solutions to local challenges and having a stronger local representation on issues that impact where we all live is vital. As an example, I would like to see more regular public meetings take place which would provide opportunities for people to endeavor to find local solutions for local matters. Generating discussion will also assist achieving what I believe we all strive for, which is attractive and sensitive development of the Mercury Bay Ward”

Caroline is also committed to finding constructive ways to address the lack of housing. Her past work history has taken her far and given her the confidence to move into any new challenging role with a view to making a positive contribution. “I’ve worked for the New Zealand Governement’s Department of Lands & Survey and NZ Forest Service on digital aerial and satellite mapping and have lived and worked overseas and undertaking different jobs and responsibilities along the way. For 16 years I worked in the natural health industry whilst a student, then as a qualified naturopath and medical herbalist in Auckland before moving to the Coromandel permanently with my husband in February 2016.” Herbal and natural medicines have always interested Caroline and still do to this day.

Finding a home for the massive amounts of unused fruit is another pet project she has set her sights on if elected. She would love to set up a “Coromandel Gold Campaignto coordinate the collection and distribution of the massive amounts of unused citrus fruit to those in need. Caroline firmly believes she has the ability to make a positive contribution to Council overall and to the Mercury Bay Ward in particular. “I believe my key strengths are retaining an open mind, being a good listener, being able to generate discussion, tease out and understand what peoples wants and needs are and advocate and clearly communicate on their behalf. Being a pragmatic person, I can see when things do, or do not, make sense. I am not afraid to ask difficult and challenging questions on behalf of the community”.

Caroline says the Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places to live in the world and would like to play her part in keeping it that way by being a Councillor on TCDC and/or a member of the local mercury bay Community Board.


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