Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Grey Power meet the candidates (+video)

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Rotorua's Bainbridge Centre was almost bursting at the seams with many of the city's more senior citizens eager to find out what their mayoral candidates could do for them.

Grey Power Rotorua hosted a mayoral candidates event today with about 250 people turning up to hear the policies of Rotorua's seven mayoral candidates.

Grey Power president Russell Hallam said he was pleased with the turnout and reminded candidates the organisation's 1900 or so members were all voters and were up with the play when it came to politics in general.

The candidates - Steve Chadwick, Mark Gould, Rob Kent, RangiMarie Kingi, Frances Louis, Dr Reynold Macpherson and John Rakei-Clark - were each given three minutes to introduce themselves and their policies.

Each candidate was also sent three questions in advance of the meeting and got two minutes each to answer them.

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They were about an amendment to the Local Government Act 2002 that includes a proposal to extend the powers of the Local Government Commission to restructure district councils without consultation with ratepayers and if the candidates supported the move.

The second question was what business acumen would they bring to the mayoralty of Rotorua.

The third question asked candidates how they would address the housing needs of senior citizens over the next 15 years.

Rotorua's seven mayoral candidates line up ready for questions from Grey Power Rotorua.
Rotorua's seven mayoral candidates line up ready for questions from Grey Power Rotorua.


No questions were allowed from the floor.

First up was Mr Kent who told the audience he was the councillor who asked the hard questions, was against the building of the shared library and children's health hub and the Te Arawa partnership in its current form, and rallied against what he called "token debt repayments".

Mrs Louis said she was tangata whenua and her only affiliations was to the "eight beating hearts of Te Arawa".

"But, we can't help our town or its people if we are not united."

She said she was standing for the people who had no voice.

Mrs Chadwick reminded people she was voted in on a platform of change, growth and partnerships, all of which she had delivered.

"We wanted to work with the people, not just for the people."

She said all economic indicators in Rotorua were up, due to the diligence and hard work of the council's portfolio leaders.

Mr Rakei-Clark said he had tried to listen to his elders growing up, but in hindsight now knew they were "always right".

"Our culture has been broken and this town is dying."

He said he wanted to deal to crime in the district and had already been speaking to leaders of such gangs as the Mongrel Mob and Black Power.

Mr Gould said now his long-running family photographic business was about to close he promised he would put all his time into running the city.

"I understand Rotorua's needs. Our community and council needs strong decisive leadership and strong community consultation," he said.

Dr Macpherson said his primary concerns if elected mayor would be to "restore democracy", reform council management and committees, reform financial management and "seriously reduce debt".

Ms Kingi said she wanted to introduce "duty of care governance", protect water and reduce the amount of "chemical medications" used by the elderly.

She said she wanted to promote Maori medicine and natural healing practises.

Going by audience applause alone, and if a winner could be decided by just that, it would have been a close run thing between Dr Macpherson and Mr Kent, with Mrs Chadwick third.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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