With only a couple of weeks until the close of voting for the upcoming byelection Hawke's Bay Today asked the prospective hopefuls their views on a range of issues from whether they think councillors are paid enough, to their thoughts on the Craggy Range track.

1) Do you think local body politicians are paid too much, or too little? Why?

2) There's been concern about loss of green space for housing in Hastings – how would you address this?

3) Are you in favour of regional council's 19 per cent rates hike to shore up our environmental hot spots? Why, why not?

4) Do you think the controversial Craggy Range Track on Te Mata Peak should be retained or scrapped?

5) Who is/was your most admired Hawke's Bay politician and why?

Rion Roben
1. Many dedicated councillors do 50 or more hours a week and I think they are fairly paid, however other councillors split their time between business and council responsibilities, and I believe that you cannot serve two masters. Councillors who do are effectively supplementing their personal business interests at the cost of their council responsibilities. Unfortunately, there are no set minimum hours which a councillor is required to work, so both are paid the same which I think is unjust.


2. Smart planning, favouring developments with greater green space. I would like to see the development of a tiny village on land which has limited horticultural potential and avoid high-density housing.

3. At some point, we have take responsibility and it falls on this generation to either attempt to right the environmental issues we have or simply pass it on. I know that this view won't be popular but I support the rate rise as it provides us the resources to make steps in the right direction.

4. I think we should keep the track as I believe the best way to protect our land is not by isolating it or locking it away but by allowing people to enjoy it and see its value firsthand, in some ways I wish we could remove the road instead of the track.

5. I'd have to say Harry Romanes, he was a pioneer of the concrete industry and employed many people in the Hastings district, a highly respected council member and also the last mayor of Havelock North. Outside of his political career, he dedicated much of his time to helping others less fortunate, I find his story very inspiring.

Alezix Heneti
1. No. I'm stunned at the incredibly low amounts paid per annum to the mayor and councillors. Wow - scary low. Councillors $41,805 pa, $46,723 pa, committee chair $51,641pa, deputy mayor $61,478 pa, mayor $131,712pa. After tax, the councillors' pay is below minimum wage. We need loving people to do this job. I'm perfectly qualified because I have served my highly disabled stroke survivor cousin for 10 years for no pay. The mayor and councillors deserve to be on the highest salaries, exceeding all other Hastings council employees.

2. Try being homeless, it's brutal. Having survived 19 weeks house-hunting in Havelock North, I support putting homeless people and families' housing needs first.

3. No, a 19 per cent rates hike is just that, 19 per cent too much. It should be reversed. Expect more from these regional council members when you pay them more than the very high income the council employees are receiving. The mayor and the councillors should be the highest paid, with all others well below them. Then you can rightfully expect the mayor and councillors to get you the ratepayers the 19 per cent that you deserve.

4. Retained with gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation to Michael at Craggy Range Winery. Silence the three ringleaders who bullied the public. I don't like bullying, threatening or blackmailing. Seventeen thousand signatures signed for the track, 6000 signed against the track. Thank Craggy Range Winery for donating, paying, giving to us. Encourage business donations, silence stirrers, ungratefuls, snobs and bullies.


5. Alezix Heneti, councillor candidate, four times ex-mayoral candidate - because I stop bullies publicly or privately.

Chris Perley
1. No, not relative to their responsibilities and workload. They are charged with thinking long-term and broad for the health of our community now and into the future. I'd like to see all wages and salaries rise in Hawke's Bay, particularly the middle and lower. Councillors are certainly not in a high salary strata.

2. We need to fundamentally change our approach to green infrastructure in Hastings. There are so many examples around the world where cities have moved far beyond the 1950s car and suburb approach to planning. Think of the potential of connected parklands that are integral to the health and joy of connected communities. Shift from creating soulless suburbs to cultural villages and hamlets with public transport hubs. We can build multiple functions so a green space is more than a park, runoff sponges, meeting places, walking and cycling connections and corridors, entertainment, cultural centres, even food.

3. Yes. The regional council wasted $20 million trying to build a banking and mega-corporation dam dream at the expense of our environment and communities. The environmental investment is needed, will benefit our economy, and around $1 a week is modest.

4. I was appalled at both the builders of the track and the obviously box-ticking nature of council staff. No one has the right to pollute, environmentally or culturally. Can anyone imagine a track being allowed next to the Wiltshire White Horse? That being said, the focus now ought to be to remedy or mitigate the damage that has already been done. If removing the track causes even more damage, then I am not in favour. And Craggy Range have some community restoration to do.

5. Henare O'Keefe because of his humility, moral strength and caring. We need more politicians with heart to ensure we do the right thing, and not the expedient thing.

Stuart Perry
1. Based on performance, there have been a number of local body politicians who shouldn't have been paid a bean. However, we have some very hard-working councillors who, based on the hours they dedicate to the community, probably are being paid only a fraction of the minimum wage. I believe it's about getting value for money so it's important that voters choose wisely and elect people with experience who hold their community interest at heart. Perhaps councils should pay by meeting attendance.

2. There are many ways we could protect the green spaces along with substantial urban growth, quality inner city apartments, infill on large blocks within existing town boundaries and utilising unproductive land. The backbone of Hawke's Bay is horticulture so productive land should be protected. It's also more than protecting green space, we cannot continue to expand with limited infrastructure capacity and adverse environmental impact. Emphasis on quality denser housing.

3. I'm opposed to uncontrolled spending - HBRC must listen to the community however, the financial impact is less than a dollar a week. We need to act now to protect the environment for the future. Water is critically important and somewhere along the line, HBRC will have to make up for lost ground.

4. Retain it. We can't just 'roll it up' and shift it somewhere else. Experts say the environmental damage will be greater removing it. Accept community sponsorship for a tree planting program. Tree lined slopes are more in keeping with the original environment than grass covered sheep tracks that 'scarred' the landscape for the past 100 years.

5. Hastings mayor Jeremy Dwyer, who had the vision and the determination to rejuvenate the city. He was the 'people's mayor' because he listened and understood what the residents wanted. He led the community through the shock of the freezing works closures and turned the city into the economic engine-room of Hawke's Bay.

Bruce Bisset
1. The complexity of the job and the huge amount of material one must absorb and understand means to do it well essentially requires a fulltime commitment. Pay rates need to reflect this. That said, a few seat-warming yes-men can give their harder-working colleagues an unfair bad name, and it's often difficult for the public to know who really deserves their votes.

2. Housing (infill) can be intensified without necessarily losing greenspace by adopting a range of "cluster" concepts, such as shared driveways and common recreational areas around more "semi-detached" dwellings. As for "greenfields" development, we must stop expanding willy-nilly over our best soils, and instead look to build new suburbs on less fertile ground.

3. Nineteen per cent sounds like a big number, but regional rates per household are low – around $300 on average. Fixing our environmental problems is a huge ask and a task that's well overdue; frankly if they can do all that's needed for only that much, good on them!

4. Why ask me that question? I'm not part of the iwi who should have been consulted but got so outrageously overlooked and ignored. It should have been their decision - and nothing that has happened should be allowed to subvert that. Anyone else spouting about it is out of order, regardless of any apparent "merits" of the track.

5. Ngahiwi Tomoana. Under his leadership Ngati Kahungunu have made great strides in the healthcare and resource management areas in particular, to the benefit of the whole region. Ngahiwi carries his iwi's aspirations humbly but steadfastly, and is not afraid to speak out strongly when he feels he must. It's also about time we recognised that iwi leaders are as important as any other elected officials.

Eileen Lawson
1. I haven't put much thought into this in the past but I believe most local politicians want to serve their community and that is their main driver. How much they are worth comes down to the dedication, commitment and time they put into the role.

2. Adequate green space within housing is vital for a community's wellbeing. Therefore, the district plan needs rules to ensure adequate private green space for households but there also needs to be strong polices to preserve land for parks and reserves throughout housing developments for public and communal use.

3. We all want clean waterways but such a significant increase in rates can't be considered lightly. The cost:benefit needs to be analysed and results clearly defined for the public to be convinced that such an increase is necessary.

4. An independent review criticised the council for not considering the cultural significance of the area before granting resource consent. Clearly there were some gaps in the plan which the council is now trying to address so this situation never happens again. Unfortunately we have a divided community as to whether it, now that it is already there, should remain or be removed. There are legal, moral, practical and aesthetic implications that need to be weighed up; I'm sure Craggy Range will be considering all these aspects when making that call.

5. I do not have a favourite Hawke's Bay politician past or present.