As part of our 2017 Election coverage the Northland Advocate has asked candidates from the Whangarei, Northland and Te Tai Tokerau electorates a series of questions.
We hope their answers help you make a decision on who to vote for.
Today the Whangarei candidates answer the question: What is the biggest single issue facing your electorate and what would you do to address it?


Robin Grieve, Act Party:

Preserving what we have after the election. It is hard to believe that a four lane highway from Auckland to Whangarei is on the way. I was excited to see the massive earthworks that are well under way north of Puhoi. This is the highway that Labour, the Greens and NZ First all opposed, so luckily for us they lost the last election. We also have one of the first partnership schools set up under the coalition agreement between Act and National.

This school is having a positive impact by providing education choice for those who cannot afford the school choices that wealthier parents have. It is a new programme and its ability to allow innovation in education will drive improvement in education. Te Kapehu Whetu is making a positive difference to young Maori students in particular.

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It is hard to believe that Labour, The Greens and NZ First want to smash the hopes and dreams of these students and shut the programme down for no reason other than ideology. Because they lost the election last time we are getting a motorway to Auckland and we got one of the first partnership schools.

The biggest single issue facing our electorate now is that if Labour, The Greens and NZ First don't lose this election, Whangarei will lose our motorway and an inspirational educational pathway for our Maori students.


Ash Holwell, Greens:

Honouring Te Tiriti. As I am Pakeha, I can only speak to the Pakeha reading this, as we have been speaking over Maori for too long. I invite you all to understand that our honouring of Te Tiriti, an agreement our ancestors signed on our behalf, is our biggest opportunity to create a world we all desire.

Firstly, it allows us to live here, and, like most of you, I want to stay living here.

Secondly, the average wealth of a NZ European/Pakeha in Aotearoa New Zealand is $114,000. For Maori it is $23,000. That's deeply unfair, we can all see that.

Thirdly, Maori are over represented in prison, suicide, poverty and bad health statistics. There are many reasons for this, though racism, inter-generational neglect and lack of representation create them all. Honouring Te Tiriti solves them all.

And finally, we have so much to learn from tangata whenua about living with our land, looking after our rivers, creating community, providing for everyone, and creating a strong, inclusive, and supportive culture. We are lucky to share this land with a people whose knowledge, wisdom and understanding can add to our own so powerfully. It is no longer acceptable to be afraid of genuinely sharing, and upholding the rights of others.

We must be brave, strong, caring and compassionate in order to create the Aotearoa New Zealand we all dream of, and Te Tiriti is an integral part of this.


Chris Leitch, Democrats for Social Credit:

Overcoming government neglect of the Northland region is the biggest challenge facing Whangarei. The evidence for this is high unemployment, high levels of crime, high numbers of people relying on welfare to live, emergency housing providers unable to cope, large numbers of empty shops, high numbers of young people leaving the area to further their education or careers, healthcare providers stretched to breaking point.

The lack of government investment in our region is because with only two exceptions (Social Credit in 1963 and Labour in 1972), Northland's two electorates have been safe for National. In both cases where National lost the seat, government investment poured into the region in an attempt to convince voters that National did indeed care about the forgotten North. That's also happened since National lost our neighbouring electorate in last year's byelection (10 new bridges and more). It's happening here (four lane highway, Hundertwasser funding, new school buildings, etc) as they looked likely to lose Whangarei this election.

I would fight hard for much more government investment in the region to see jobs growing, houses being upgraded, roads improved, etc. Michael Joseph Savage's Government did it with Reserve Bank funding after the Depression. There was no cost to taxpayers through Public Private Partnerships and wasted interest payments to overseas owned banks. Both Japan and China use that mechanism. We should too.


Marie Minhinnick, Independent:

The biggest challenge facing my electorate for 2017 is getting people, especially young adults, to come out and "meet the candidates" so they see the importance of what they stand for and a lens view of the person whom they should vote for to make a difference in their lives for their future.

We are also faced with lack of educational information on how to vote. Probably why they have no understanding when the elections come around, and they don't bother to turn up to vote. How do they vote for a "party vote" or a "list vote" this will allow most people, and targeting our young children to understand how important their votes will make a difference in our districts. I would provide all high schools from Year 9-13 with an educational beginners' material pack and set up an online election quiz making it compulsory so they have a lot more better understanding and why their vote is so very important to them.

These election material packs will change every year to an advance stage, where they will be so proficient that they will be so ready. When they are ready to vote they will identify the ramifications, and will see that elections have consequences for areas such as education, employment, healthcare,employment and housing opportunities and so on. we seem to take things for granted.

Perhaps now, the next generation may be what you have been waiting for and yes, your votes do make a difference and even more.


Shane Reti, National:

Whangarei is growing, tourism is booming and employment is rising. This growth revitalises the community, giving us new personal and business opportunities. It also gives us the financial resources to break the cycle of welfare dependency and to tackle difficult, ever-changing social issues.

What remains as the top concern in Whangarei? From what you have told me - jobs and the economy. Last election I promised 3000 jobs in three years. Last year, by working together, we created 5600 new jobs in manufacturing, construction, forestry, farming and tourism. In May, the ASB regional quarterly rated Northland with the second highest growth in NZ and in July, the Household Labour Force Survey showed Northland with the biggest drop in unemployment of any region in New Zealand.

My commitment to you - to keep the momentum going, creating more jobs and training opportunities, and to diversify the economy. The National Government is a government investing in the infrastructure and people of Whangarei. Together, we have lobbied for jobs and projects such as the $500 million four lane highway from Whangarei to Ruakaka roundabout, the $50m Whangarei Boys' High School build, the $21m Hundertwasser build and the $20m Portland Waste Tyre Management build. We invest $12m pa in trades training and apprenticeships just in Whangarei alone.

My name is Dr Shane Reti - Whangarei deserves a local MP who is passionate about our electorate, with a proven local track record of compassion, commitment, hard work, and bringing jobs to Whangarei.


Tony Savage, Labour:

The effects of poverty is the biggest single issue facing the Whangarei electorate. We see these effects in the education system where children who are not getting enough food, live in cold damp houses, move house frequently, and do not have warm enough clothing. These children are often ill, and fail to learn properly at school.

Many of them leave school without qualifications, without hope in life, and often turn to gangs and crime as a lifestyle. Others suffer from poor mental health and can also end up in the justice system. This is costly both for the country, and for our district. Very young women can become young parents, and the cycle repeats itself into the next generation.
Labour's goal is to eradicate child poverty and we will bring in policies to do this.

Increasing the number and quality of state housing is one answer, insisting that landlords provide warm healthy homes is another. Reforming Kainga Whenua and Welcome Home Loans schemes to allow Maori to access home loans more easily, and to build collectively on iwi land will help.

We have budgeted for free doctors' visits for children, assisting families into their own home rather than renting, lifting the minimum wage, providing 26 weeks paid parental leave, making state primary education free, and removing secondary tax from those who work two or three jobs to make ends meet.

These are just a few of the policies we will bring in to reach our goal of eradicating child poverty.


Jim Taylor, Conservatives:

Youth crime. The Conservative Party believe that our preoccupation with "rights", with very little reference to "responsibilities", has left us in a situation where some young people realise that they can do whatever they like, with little or no consequences. This sort of freedom leads to isolation and lostness.

The consequences of the resulting crime must outweigh the benefits, but when you simply get dropped off home after committing a burglary, or bounced between family group conferences, police and the courts, there's no disincentive, so the crime continues.
My wife and I have cared for over 400 high at-risk youth over 15+ years. We see first-hand youth crimes becoming much more violent. They've escalated to aggravated assaults, armed robberies, P, and domestic violence to name a few.

The Conservative Party have three policies to address youth crime issues. They are, Youth Crime Policy, Justice Policy, and Youth Boot Farms Policy. Within those policies solutions include, coming down hard on first time offenders, an overhaul of the current Youth Court system and Adolescent Mental Health Services, reparation that fits the crime, and an educational achievement linked to court sentencing.

Another huge contributor to youth crime is the breakdown of the family unit. I'm committed to stemming the governmental degradation of this unit, and would introduce family friendly policies and strategies, aiming to strengthen, promote and rebuild this pillar of our society. Our youth policies in full detail: www.conservativeparty.org.nz.