Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Meet Raj Kumar - Rotorua's new district councillor

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Raj Kumar and his wife Jagruti Vanesha Patel at their Springfield home.
Raj Kumar and his wife Jagruti Vanesha Patel at their Springfield home.

Rotorua's only new district councillor may be well-known to the people of Springfield, the community he serves as the owner of Springfield Superette, but who is Raj Kumar and what will he bring to the council table?

Raj (Rajmesh) Kumar, 49, was born in Suva, Fiji, but has called Rotorua home for the past 17 years since he bought the Springfield Superette in July 1999.

It's his first foray into local body politics, or any sort of politics for that matter, and he's keen to get stuck in when the council is sworn in at the end of the month.

Yesterday, he was back at work still pinching himself he had been elected, but had some strong opinions about what the council should be doing.

"Normally I don't work Sundays and I can't believe how many people have come in to see me.

"I want to thank everyone at large, our local Indians, the farmers and rural people and our ratepayer group."

Mr Kumar said he was a happily married man with three kids and "Rotorua is our home and is our identity".

He met his wife, Jagruti Vanesha Patel, who is originally from London, at his younger brother's wedding in Fiji.

He's a big sports fan and keen golfer and will "need to change my golf day, which is a Thursday, but the city comes first".

"Rotorua is growing and as a council we need to be more productive and consenting toward progress rather than hide behind archaic regulations that stunt growth.

"I want to address the youth issues in the city and I believe driving them back into the suburbs is not the right idea and we need to work to a better programme and give them hope, not ignore them."

He said the council focused too much on tourism and he wanted to see more done for the rural sector, "especially when payouts are low".

"They feel the council ignores them and are getting a raw deal on rates.

"I also want a much more open policy in council meetings and less meetings held in confidential, we need to be very open about what we are doing.

"I'd like a free bus service circling our city from Lakefront to the mall and around the CBD and re-investigate the Green Corridor through the central city and have a better plan for its use.

"Lastly, I'm a bit of a smart alec and have a quirky sense of humour, but I'm sure I'll make people laugh."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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