His great-grandson drew Johnny Nepe Apatu back to Central Hawke's Bay, after eight years in Australia.

A candidate for chairman of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc, he said he wanted to see the boy reach his potential.

"At present there are a lot of young people that are not reaching their potential and there are a lot of young people that are dying - there are a lot of suicides," he said.

"I aim to try and figure out a way how to stop that and I believe this project that I have on hand, up at Pukeora, will be one of the cures."


Pukeora Estate, on a hill overlooking Waipukurau, is a winery located at a former WWI health care facility.

The floor area of the larger buildings is 7000 sq m and the main building has 56 bedrooms, with potential to sleep 116 people in twin/double rooms.

There are eleven 2/3/4 bedroom dwellings included.

"It has got enough room to house the homeless, it's got enough room to train 100 kids and it has got enough room to start a rehabilitation centre - right there - and start rebuilding our whānau and our hapū. Making them a lot healthier than they are now."

"It's time for change," he said. "I can bring that change.

"Although there's been a lot of good things that has happened in the past 24 years, there are quite a few things that are really important to me, that haven't happened."

He said water quality and quantity was a major issue, with urgent discussion needed.

Farmers needed to diversify, with a switch to crops needing less water such as hemp.


The Hawke's Bay Regional Council needed to take action "right now, not later".

"In the aquifer - the main aquifer - in the old days it used to fill as it was being used. Now it is just reducing, so there ain't too many years before it is going to empty.

"My plea is to the council: Start doing something now. Don't wait for it to happen, like it is over in Australia.

"The reason I'm passionate about the wai is because it reminds me about the state of our iwi at present: homelessness, no jobs, not working, idle, sick.

"We are getting sick, worse than ever before, and there is not too much research into why we are getting sick."

He is certain poor water management is a cause.

"There are a lot out there that don't need the water but they're taking it.

"Farmers know now that there's a product out there that can help them. And that's hemp.

"Hemp doesn't need much water - 150,000 litres a day is not on. Not on, in terms of my

The other candidates in the chair election are Shayne Walker and incumbent Ngahiwi Tomoana.

Online and postal voting close at noon on April 30.

Made with funding from