John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Green wizard seeks to become Tauranga's mayor

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Noel Peterson speeds towards a healthier future on his battery assisted bicycle by bidding to become Tauranga's Mayor. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
Noel Peterson speeds towards a healthier future on his battery assisted bicycle by bidding to become Tauranga's Mayor. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Tauranga's green wizard and environmentalist Noel Peterson has entered the race to become the city's mayor.

He has joined six others who have seized the opportunity to run for the city's leadership after Mayor Stuart Crosby decided to not seek re-election.

Mr Peterson, 63, said Tauranga needed to be working towards being a carbon neutral city, embracing new technologies and new ways of thinking.

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The part-time worker for the Tauranga Environment Centre says he had the credentials for the job because he religiously followed city issues for many years and was a frequent submitter to the council. He twice stood without success for Environment Bay Plenty before the name changed to Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

His passion for the environment has led to Mr Peterson regularly donning a green wizard's outfit for community events. He calls it a hobby that was an arts and dance thing, but with a serious green message. "The wizard has been very successful."

Mr Peterson said the decision to run for the mayoralty and council was the culmination of years of groundwork. "I have seen Tauranga grow from a seaside village into a city - I have an excellent understanding of our city."

He wants people to move towards clean efficient transport, and has put his money where his mouth is by buying a rechargeable battery-assisted bicycle.

His philosophy was to create a sense of community pride and for Tauranga to be a friendly, happy and caring city. "People come first - there are a lots of issues with social services."

Mr Peterson believed he had the ability to steer the city in the right direction, saying legislation had made councils somewhat powerless. "I want more power returned to elected representatives."

He dedicated 35 years of his life to the disability sector, including 25 years with IHC. Mr Peterson now runs the Environment Centre's four food gardens at the Historic Village, selling most of the produce and returning profits to the centre.

His activist activities included membership of Harbour Watch and trying to save Herries Park back when luxuriant gardens separated The Strand from the railway line.

GREEN WIZARDRY: Tauranga's green wizard Noel Peterson is making a bid for Tauranga's mayoralty
GREEN WIZARDRY: Tauranga's green wizard Noel Peterson is making a bid for Tauranga's mayoralty

"Progress happens and I have moved on. I am now talking about becoming involved in putting mobile edible garden art on the waterfront.''

His environmental concerns include the need for councillors to get their heads around the impact of global warming and rising sea levels, including long-term impacts on Papamoa.

Mr Peterson was also a big supporter of Bay's fledgling film industry and would like to see a Hobbit-sized movie made about a green wizard tasked with saving mankind from itself. It could bring $600 million into the Bay.

Confirmed mayoral candidates

Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout

Former Tauranga councillor and bus driver Murray Guy

Business development specialist Max Mason

Regional councillor Doug Owens

Gardens manager Noel Peterson

Former Trustpower community relations manager Graeme Purches

Tauranga councillor John Robson.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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