Local elections 2019


Fewer old, white and male candidates are needed on the council.

This was just one of the insights that emerged during the Social Link mayoral candidate meeting on Monday night. Of the nine candidates in attendance, two were female and the youngest was 46.

Western Bay of Plenty candidate Stephen Fawcett and Tauranga City candidate Tenby Powell agreed diversity was needed on the council when asked who they would like to see as their fellow councillors if elected.

More funding for the arts, culture and social services sector, a stronger sense of unity in council and the lack of a museum in Tauranga City were also addressed by mayoral candidates from both Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty.

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The nine candidates in attendance, Tenby Powell, Murray Guy, John Robson, Gary Webber, Kelvin Clout, RangiMarie Te Amopiu-Kaa Kingi, Greg Brownless, Margaret Murray-Benge and Stephen Fawcett, were put through their paces for a little under two hours.

The candidates were given three minutes each to talk about what they would do to support the arts, culture and social sector. A water gun was waiting in the audience to blast them back to their seat if they went over their time slot.

"We need to give more. This is the lifeblood of our community," Powell said.

"The funding level is not even half enough and that needs to change."

In the Western Bay of Plenty 225 non-government organisations work daily to improve the wellbeing of individuals, families and society according to Social Link.

But Clout believed the council's job was to advocate more on behalf of the sector and "substantial" funding needed to come from central government.

The biggest message Guy believed needed to be shared was "that we give a damn".

"If we can't give anything else, let's make them feel valued."

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Incumbent Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless believed the current council was a big supporter of the arts and cultural scene but "of course that is never enough".

"The environment in which people live is very important to our physical and mental wellbeing and so we have got to keep this place green, with plenty of parks and enough infrastructure to support people in their everyday lives."

An invitation to visit the museum in the Western Bay of Plenty went out when incumbent Western Bay of Plenty mayor Gary Webber took the microphone.

"I'm interested in getting stuff done. We know what we are doing in the social sector space. I will continue to support these people and drive funding to the arts and away from sports."

Newcomer Stephen Fawcett said he was the personification of the social sector through his experience growing up as a missionary and running the Vector Charitable Trust in Te Puke.

"I have a passion for community and we haven't had the support and I wear the scars from that."

Kingi envisioned Tauranga as the new entertainment and performing arts area for the nation and hoped if elected she would be able to make that happen.