Rotorua elections: Meet the new councillors

By Matthew Martin

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Rotorua voters elected three new district councillors this month. We caught up with each of them:


Peter Bentley

Born in Hokitika in 1950

Lived in Rotorua since 1959

Spokesman for the Sensible Sentencing Trust

Recently semi-retired

Is married to his best friend, Maggie

His parents Bruce and Margaret won a ballot for a dairy farm at Rerewhakaaitu in 1959 - Mr Bentley has lived in the region ever since.

"I have always had an interest in all politics, especially local body. Until recently I have had contracts with the council which precluded me from standing for council.

"When my wife, Maggie, became a councillor this reignited my desire to contribute."

He recently sold his landscape and gardening supplies business, saying he could devote more time to his council role.

"My priorities for council are to contribute by using my own business expertise and create an efficient, cost-effective workforce within council.

"I would like to see a 'needs not wants' mind frame within council and our very high debt levels need reducing.

"I totally support Grow Rotorua and look forward to being part of this council team."

Rob Kent
Rob Kent

Rob Kent

Born in Bath, England, in 1948

Lived in New Zealand since 1970, in Rotorua since 2010

Chief executive of Barkers Park

Has raced dragon boats in Singapore

Bath, in England, is famous for its more than 2000-year-old Roman baths built over hot springs in the city, so Mr Kent is no stranger to nature's power.

"I came to Rotorua to come up with a new business project for the [Barkers Park] property on behalf of its owners. My job there now is virtually complete.

"I have ample time to devote to my next challenge, which is to help get Rotorua thriving again and to explore other new opportunities which abound in our district."

He said his three top priorities were to reduce excessive staff numbers by natural attrition, "which will have a very significant impact on reducing expenditure and therefore rates and debt".

Also, to overhaul the District Plan, Resource Management Act and Building Consent processes to "eliminate all needless and counter-productive paper, making Rotorua the easiest and most inexpensive council to deal with".

He also wants to rethink the central city.

"I would like to see our best brains get around the table, set the objectives for our new city centre, then hold an international competition among the world's best architects to come up with the best design for a central Rotorua of the future, chosen by public vote."

Tania Tapsell
Tania Tapsell

Tania Tapsell

Was born in Rotorua and is 21 years old

Has almost finished a Bachelor in Management Studies at Waikato University

Is on the Ministry for Social Development and the Ministry for Youth Development advisory boards

Was a member of the New Zealand Maori U21 mixed touch team and has held national titles in cross-country and gymnastics

Ms Tapsell is almost at the end of studying for a Bachelor in Management studies, majoring in marketing and human development, at the University of Waikato.

She is also a member of various funding panels and advisory boards for the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Youth Development.

"I stood for council because of families, finance and future generations.

"Being young, I hope to bring a fresh perspective and new leadership to council as there was no one representing people under 40 years old. Rotorua has a young population when compared to other cities in New Zealand, so it's important that they are represented on council."

Her top priorities for the next three years are to reduce the $62 million debt for the airport, ensure there is a greater voice for families and young people and improve the environment we live in.

"I believe that the focus needs to shift to a Bay of Plenty regional airport and I will encourage a shared strategy and collaborative approach with the regional council.

"[I want to] ensure there is a greater voice for our families and young people, who are the essence of our community and need to be listened to [and] critically examine the initiatives currently run by the council to ensure a sustainable and targeted contribution to improving the natural and built environment. For example, in lake water quality and geothermal."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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