Infrastructure is the most important issue facing the Rangitīkei District and ratepayers, according to some local body election candidates.

A number of Rangitīkei District councillors are stepping down and there are many new faces seeking election for the next council term.

Twenty-seven candidates, 22 of them newcomers, are standing for 11 seats. Mayor Andy Watson will have another term at the helm after being unopposed this election.

Current deputy mayor Nigel Belsham, who is standing for another term, said aging water infrastructure across the district would be a major hurdle for ratepayers in terms of affordability.


Earthquake-prone building legislation, economic development and increased housing demands across the urban communities were other important issues facing the district, Belsham said.

He said the council had worked hard on developing policies that have had a direct impact on helping to address some of the issues.

"Incentivising earthquake strengthening repairs to identified prone buildings, incentivising new house builds within our district. I would like to ensure the council builds on these policies and that we are seen as leaders in identifying and implementing solutions to these issues."

Bronwyn Meads, who is standing for the southern ward, said quality infrastructure and the cost to the ratepayer was one of the most important issues facing the district.

"Each sector of the southern ward is different and has its own challenges and issues and I would like to be able to help this ward prosper into the future. I would work with a team to ensure that crucial infrastructure is prioritised."

Meads said she was an experienced community development manager and had worked as the town co-ordinator in Bulls for 10 years.

She worked strategically and found gaps in the community, helping to bring in $1 million worth of funding to Bulls over the 10-year period, she said.

Richard Lambert has decided to stand to advocate for all rural-based voters.

Lambert has served on a number of committees where he had learned a positive combination of different viewpoints around the table can lead to the best solution.

"Like most regions in the country, we are on the verge of a period of growth and change we haven't experienced for many years. The important issues today are being driven by these.

"With the increase in population and all the varying flow-on effects, it is vital to have the infrastructure in place to make sure we have the Rangitīkei we all want to live in."

Cath Ash is standing for another term and also said that infrastructure is potentially the district's biggest challenge ahead.

"Over decades there has been too little investment in this area. There needs to be an investment to upgrade our pipes so we are not losing precious water to the surrounding soil and implement water strategies so we have consistent water quality for our communities."

Ash said council needed to get savvy sharing the district's story with potential businesses to increase employment opportunities and support existing businesses to grow.

"We need to work harder to respect and nurture our environment. I am keen to see us as leaders in this area, encouraging our citizens to embrace the opportunity to be the very best that they can be, to support, respect and protect our natural environment."

She also believed the council needed to put the accelerator on to lobby central government to ensure the district gets fair representation.


Fiona Dalgety believes the council needs to facilitate economic growth to ensure a prosperous future.

Dalgety has farmed sheep and beef in Hunterville for the past 30 years and now wants to step up, using her business skills and financial acumen, to be strong voice for what she cares about.

"Central government may come to the assistance of small towns around the provision of the three waters. Many of these projects will be funded from reserves and borrowing and will need to be carefully managed within budgets. Rates need to be kept affordable and equitable and ratepayers need to feel they are getting a reasonable value."

She said strong leadership, working in partnership with the community, would enable future-focused growth, sustainable development and a progressive business environment.

With constant environmental issues affecting water standards in the region, Peter J Woolston, who served one term on council from 1995, sees the costs and rates that come with trying to maintain standards.

"It's going to affect council and ratepayers especially when you've got a small ratepayer base, it's quite severe."

Meeting central government's water quality standards was difficult for local bodies "and sometimes it's quite crippling", Woolston said.

An outdoorsman who has done a lot of hunting and fishing, Woolston said he knew the condition the river was in and, if he was elected, would push Horizons Regional Council to clean up things up.

Joining him in the central ward election is Sandra Field who believes recycling and environmental concerns are huge issues that need to better addressed by council.

"I would investigate around our own needs in recycling including if it's a viable option to have kerbside recycling. Changing the hours at the waste transfer station to better suit the needs of schools and people who have trouble accessing it currently is also something I would investigate."

Field has worked supporting people with their housing, financial, health and emotional wellbeing, giving her opportunities to see how things are for many people in the community.

"We need new eyes ears and thoughts to adapt to the changes that our region and our town Marton is experiencing."

Gill Duncan, who is standing for the Taihape ward, believes climate change realities and public perceptions are important issues facing the district with this being a time of rapid change for rurally-based communities.

"Farmer morale is at very low levels with mental health a huge issue for small communities and in town we are still dealing with the fall out from the Christchurch earthquakes with costly compliance for buildings and infrastructure."

Duncan said to resolve this consultation needed to continue with farmers, not just to respond to and plan the implementation of a new policy but to be able to communicate to the wider community the great environmental work completed and further projects being undertaken.

"Community well-being is my end goal. As a strong team player, I will take Taihape's town and country issues into the council with me for positive and workable outcomes."

Duncan's opponent Owen Bonnor said he is standing to see ratepayers get better value for rates paid and better service.

He brings business skills from running a farm and has more than 17 years of experience on school boards.

"[Council needs to] make staff accountabilities more transparent so outcomes are delivered in a more timely manner and within budget, this then makes the council more fiscally effective."

With big commitments ahead such as fixing sewage and meeting community expectations for community facilities, he would like to see council do this in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Coral Raukawa-Manuel, who is standing for the central ward, believes the council needs to prioritise "needs" over "nice-to-haves", have an equitable rating system and improve communication.

Having lived and worked in Marton all her life, she said she knew and understood the opportunities and issues the community faced and knew what was needed to make smarter economic and community decisions for the future.

"We need to have a more open, honest and positive culture. Having a council that is more visibly accountable for progress, robust decision making and using rates wisely is one step to achieving this."

Voting closes at noon on Saturday, October 12.