Seven candidates are running in the upcoming Hastings District Council Hastings-Havelock North ward byelection. Hawke's Bay Today is profiling each candidate. Today we feature Waitawhara Tupaea.

Waitawhara Tupaea is running for mayor as well as a Hastings councillor position, not so concerned about the roles as he is about changing the way council connects with and reflects the community.

A Karamu High School student who grew up in Hastings and Havelock North, the 19-year-old finished school last year and said he was driven to stand by a desire to change the thinking of the capitalist system that divided people on the basis of their work and income.

Born into a poor, working class family, he had experienced inequality in society, and said it was important for the council to treat all people with "dignity, respect and aroha.


Read more: Hastings mayoral candidate profile: Bayden Barber
Hastings mayoral candidate profile: Stuart Perry
Central Hawke's Bay mayoral candidate Alex Walker bucks trend with tabloid brochure

"That means creating equality and diversity ... bringing different voices to council ... encouraging small businesses to talk and collaborate ... more and better dialogue.

"Maybe we should change the way that dialogue works in council to be more community-oriented, consultation should not be just about the council presenting ideas to the community, but creating a framework for the community to have a conversation with council about its own ideas."

He felt the council should not just be about function or amenities, but also about vision.

"Council should be more transparent in the way it engages with the community, and be about visioning and creating "a big, robust vision that incorporates us all".

Read more: Mayoral candidate profile: Sandra Hazlehurst
Hastings mayoral candidate profile: Allister Tosh
Hastings mayoral candidate: Simon Nixon

That included young people, his fellow millennials, who he wanted to be a passionate voice for, and not just on matters such as building playgrounds.

"It's also talking about very uncomfortable subjects, like the impact colonisation is having on youth, on the impact of educational standards and poverty.

"We should not have poverty in 2017 and we should be striving for full, meaningful employment."

He said maybe the council should be looking at bringing a university to the district to keep or attract students back to the Bay.

Although he had considered going to Wellington to University after finishing school, he changed plans after he suffered a period of mental ill health.

"There was a period of anxiety, I was isolating myself and I knew I was not contributing to society - contributing is being there, being present and having conversations and some laughs.

"We have a lot to celebrate in Hawke's Bay."

One of seven candidates contesting the byelection, he put out the call for more young people to stand up and run for local body elections.

"It's incumbent on us to change the dialogue - if we care about our future people need to be using the tools the previous generation has given us to change the world."