Last week we presented four of the seven candidates standing as Councillors for the
TCDC Mercury Bay Ward in the upcoming local body elections. The remaining three - John
Grant, Deli Connell and Grahame Christian -
are published here along with a candidate from Tairua, Chris New, who is also standing
for the Mercury Bay Ward. The Informer expresses no political bias.
The Mayoral candidates were presented from A to Z, these candidates are listed from Z to A.
John is a businessman and one who has taken measured risks in his life and helped others do so.
It is no small achievement to establish a locally owned radio station and make it thrive. John has done that with Coromandel FM, now studios in Thames, Whangamata and Whitianga and employing five staff. This is just a recent achievement since 2019 and it has occurred after many years of senior roles in marketing and insurance in Australia and New Zealand. John spent 10 years overseeing earthquake recovery work in Christchurch where his company managed over 200 staff and or contractors working ‘on the ground’. This was in the field of disaster management and provides John with a wealth of experience in leading teams through change and unknown territory.
“My principal place of residence is in the Mercury Bay Ward area. I live, work, and play in Whitianga with my wife, Lynda. We have two children and four grandchildren. I have a principal shareholding in Coromandel Insurance Services Limited and I am a registered financial adviser specialising in general insurance. The company employs six contractors/employees.”
The Informer asked John about his particular intentions standing for Councillor on TCDC. “I want to respond to the disappointment and even disillusionment with the current TCDC. Fundamental changes are needed. I don’t support co-governance. I will work for a more efficient transport system across the Coromandel Peninsula; a sealed runway is needed. These are two specific examples but this area has been poorly looked after in terms of allocation of resources. People who have paid their rates for over 50 years have seen so little upgrade or improvements to the water supply, roading and sewerage where they reside. Money for core services has not been applied to the people and the areas in which they live and work and they have more than paid for them. There are expenditures and activities that are carried out in the name of TCDC that have not been communicated and certainly not received endorsement from the ratepayers and residents of this Peninsula. That needs change.”
In response to the issue of Three Waters, John says, “We have already spent 110 million and we have been offered 16 million for our assets. It isn’t reasonable and does not take the rate payers seriously or take into account the work we have done to ensure safe water. The power of committed lobbying with central government is vital and elected councillors will need to ensure that the Mercury Bay Area is always a priority and that the people are informed and it should not be from the stance, ‘we know best.’
I'm passionate about the Coromandel peninsula. If elected I will bring my experience to Council and will represent with pride and unstinting effort, the Mercury Bay Ward area.
My principal place of residence is in the Mercury Bay Ward area.
My background is in education and sustainable development in which I have held management roles and represented New Zealand overseas. I am honoured to have served three terms on Mercury Bay Community Board and am well-equipped to step up to the role of District Councillor.
Having lived in Mercury Bay for nearly forty years, I have engaged with many organisations, community groups and individuals from Whangapoua in the North to 'Hotty' in the South.
My background is education and sustainable development. These communities and their environments are diverse, and 'one-size' decision making does not fit all.
I am particularly mindful of the need to balance our rich cultural heritage and natural environs with tourism and business interests ensuring the best lifestyle possible for our people - young and old.
The future is a season for the next Thames Coromandel District Council to ‘hit the ground running’ and do so for the next three years. To do this, will require experience, an understanding of local government processes, knowing what is governance and what is management; discerning what lobbying is required beyond our own realm to achieve benefits and what must receive priority action. Enacting every change to bring results for our residents will cost money and TCDC must lobby wisely and strongly and listen to the issues that matter to their constituents. We will have to deal with legislation from central government, and ensure that the Coromandel Peninsula and in particular, the Mercury Bay Area, gets ‘a piece of the pie.’ We will have to be agile enough that in the event of a change of government next year, we will be able to carry through the changes and always keep the priorities and needs of our people front and centre.
I believe together we face four main issues - climate change, coastal erosion, the Three Waters legislation, and increasing pressure on our overall infrastructure. A fifth pertinent issue for this town that is long overdue and has gone unheard, is housing for pensioners with limited income. There is a long waiting list and evident frustration that land has not been allocated for this. Along with that is the matter of housing for disabled young adults who could live with dignity in sheltered housing. It’s the land that is needed, as the people passionate about this will make the structures happen.
To become a Councillor is not something someone does when they are retiring or are tired and need a change. This is gruelling work and service; it’s a calling. I count it as a privilege to have the opportunity to do just that by standing for TCDC.
Grahame is from this region. He was born in Thames, where his mother’s family and Iwi are from and has returned to Whangapoua, where his father’s family and Iwi are from. He is a permanent resident of Mercury Bay.
“I am entrepreneurial and have a broad and strong background in business and life in general. I founded a company from zero and grew it to 500 staff nationwide, focusing on resource recovery and recycling. I sold this company to a New Zealand owned private equity and I remain a shareholder and Director. Through growth and acquisition, the company now has nearly 800 staff. I also hold property and other investments. I have the time, focus and skills to make a significant difference as an elected councillor on Thames Coromandel District Council.”
Grahame brings a wide variety and depth of experience in the community. He served in the New Zealand Police, where he received the Commissioner’s medal for bravery. He has played touch for New Zealand, then coached and served on the board of Touch New Zealand. He was invited by the then Mayor Glen Leach to serve as a member of the TCDC Economic Development Committee. He was invited to chair the Pare Hauraki Asset Holding Company, with substantial quota, cash and shares in aquaculture and fisheries in the Hauraki region. He sat on the Board of WasteMINZ, was previous Chair of Preserve New Chum and remains a member. He recently assisted with the purchasing of the headland at New Chum, making a donation and a substantial loan to acquire this land.
Currently Grahame mentors several local businesses, and assists Mercury Bay Area School. He participates in motor races, enjoys boating and fishing, plays a new sport called pickleball, where he plays locally and in national tournaments and is on the local committee.
The key messages from Grahame are:
· I am here for Mercury Bay and the region. If the region benefits, so will we, and vice versa. Examples of regional benefits would be the removal of one-way bridges, and/or a transport/transit hub in Thames that serves the area.
· We have to make best use of every ratepayer dollar and hold ourselves accountable, and function more like a business, where we are outcome focused
· We must agree on what is important and must direct and hold the CEO accountable
· We have to deliver on key services first and what we invest in must be durable and scalable so that it is not a burden on our future
· We have to focus on reducing the bureaucracy, red tape, delayed decision making and increasing costs of compliance and act more like a business that is there to serve its constituent ratepayers
· A holistic approach to Environmental, Cultural and Community are key elements of the future wellbeing of our region
Chris New is standing for councillor on Thames Coromandel District Council because he believes it is too long since Tairua Pauanui ward had representation around the council table. He has had two terms on Tairua Pauanui Community board, in 2010/2013 and 2019/2022.
“I’ve lived in Tairua over 40 years as a self-employed plumber and drain layer, employing up to five staff. I have been in Tairua Volunteer Fire Brigade 39 years and promoted to Chief Fire Officer in 2001 after former CFO Warwick Brooks retired.
“My lovely wife Gail and I brought up three children here and now have six grandchildren. I’ve put a lot of time into this area I love. I was instrumental in the building of Tairua boat ramp and wharf while on Tairua Harbour Committee and I was recently instrumental in getting Tairua Men’s Shed a home. Tairua-Pauanui ward has suffered from under-representation for approximately 15 years, because of having no local councillor sitting at the table. The two councillors we have are both from Whangamata and only one attends our board meetings. We need proper representation!
“We need to push for our one lane bridges to be upgraded, two in Tairua, one at Coroglen and Hikuai Bailey Bridge, allow trafficking to move more freely and better road safety. As a fireman I know when we have long queues, people get impatient and take risks.
“When a councillor you represent the whole electorate, but Southeast Ward economy is important to our area. Aquaculture Industries on western Coromandel are now huge employers. The new Kopu Marine precinct will be great for Thames and Whitianga is growing rapidly. Southeast Ward, I believe it could do with a developmental push.”
Chris expresses concerned about the handling of our solid waste and is against the Three Waters Model. “Council needs to bring more efficacies into the operation. It’s the only way we can minimise future rate rises without dropping the level of service.
“I’ve a lot to learn about inner workings of local government, but I have the time, and the heart to make the Coromandel a great place to live and bring up families.”