Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Big promises in local body elections

Photo / File
Photo / File

Some of the more colourful candidates in this year's local body elections are promising big even if their mayoral election chances seem small.

A moneyless economy, cannabis law reform and Reserve Bank loans to ordinary Kiwis are among the ideas being peddled by a handful of the country's 240-odd mayoral hopefuls.

Lesser-known candidates spoke to TV3's The Nation this morning about their campaigns.

Nelson mayoral candidate Richard Osmaston, a 49-year-old pig farmer and former pilot, wants the world to ditch money - starting with Nelson.

"The moneyless economy will solve basically every problem you can think of. We don't need any new technology. This is the answer - I'm utterly convinced of that. How we get there from here is more difficult," he told The Nation.

Mr Osmaston is part of the global Venus Project movement, which aims to set up a resource-based economy where nobody has to work and everything is free.

If elected mayor, he would leave day-to-day duties to his deputy and council officials, while he focussed on educating people about resource-based economics.

In Taumaranui, cannabis law reformer Dakta Green, formerly Ken Morgan, is using his fight with the local power company as a platform in his Ruapehu mayoral bid.

He bought an electricity generator after a tense exchange with the Lines Company, and said people had to produce power that was cheaper than what was being provided.

"We can't bow to monopoly pressures such as the Lines Company are imposing on our community," he told The Nation.

A veteran campaigner whose causes have included Saturday shop trading and an offshore casino, Mr Green also wants to revitalise the local economy by producing hemp.

He has served time for possession of cannabis, but said people would not be put off voting for him if they understood what the fight for cannabis law reform was about.

Otorohanga mayoral candidate Rachael Membery, who owns a liquor and lingerie store, is campaigning on the cost of earthquake-strengthening local buildings.

She told The Nation she was keen on male bikinis - known as mankinis.

"I have a fondness of selling mankinis which I think go better with alcohol than potato chips."

In Hamilton, preacher Jack Gielen wants to make the city the new Jerusalem - an equal society based on love and peace.

"I'd like to be voted in as father of the city, where all people live together as spirit beings, they all live together as one, where they walk streets of gold, the Holy Spirit leading the way."

Auckland mayoral hopeful Emmett Hussey, whose billboards have been noted for their stark photo of the 67-year-old handyman striking a serious pose, told The Nation he was "very happy" with the photo.

"Some others aren't - they think I should have smiled. But I said I was taking on a serious job so I had to look serious."

Mr Hussey has put up 100 billboards at a cost of about $16,000, which had come from his retirement savings. He has also delivered 10,000 pamphlets on foot, costing him five toenails.

He said he was campaigning because he was angry about foreign ownership of houses and the "stark raving mad" Auckland unitary plan.

In Christchurch, candidate Peter Wakeman gained exposure last month when he gate-crashed mayoral frontrunner Lianne Dalziel's campaign launch.

He told The Nation he was upset Ms Dalziel had been allowed to launch her campaign at the council-funded Christchurch Arts Festival.

Mr Wakeman wants to put pressure on central Government to make the Reserve Bank lend interest-free money to New Zealand's councils for infrastructure purposes - and he reckons he has a good shot at beating Ms Dalziel.

A serial campaigner, he has a weak track record in previous campaigns.

In the 1993 Tauranga by-election, he came third to Winston Peters and the satirical McGillicuddy Serious Party, and in the 2004 Te Tai Hauauru by-election, he angered some voters by standing in the Maori seat, despite not being Maori himself.

Voting in the local elections closes midday on Saturday, October 12.

- APNZ

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