Whanganui Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay is the voice for millennials on Whanganui council, and currently the youngest person in New Zealand to hold the position.

With local body elections looming, Chandulal-Mackay talked about the challenges facing the region in the next term - and how to fix them.

"The major challenge we are going to face within the remainder of the 21st century is climate change," Chandulal-Mackay said.

"In the Manawatū and Whanganui region, agriculture accounts for 8.7 per cent of our overall GDP, compared with a national average of 4.3 per cent. Obviously it's a significant part of the produce that we put out to the country and to the world."


"With climate change impacting on our levels of drought, our rainfall, our temperatures - all that sort of thing - it's going to change the way that we do agriculture, and practice agriculture into the future."

"Locally in Whanganui we've just adopted a climate change discussion doc which we are going to be consulting on going forward for the remainder of 2019 and that will inform a climate action plan that we develop for the Whanganui district in particular going forward."

"In terms of other challenges facing Whanganui, housing is a big one. We have the highest rates of home ownership at the moment but what that means is that we have a low amount of rentals available for people."

Chandulal-Mackay is mindful that long-term plans such as climate change solutions and new housing, can have a large impact on rates being paid by the public today.

"I think we need to really strongly lobby central Government, saying 'hey, we really need another way to raise revenue'.

"Whether that be a portion of GDP gathered from the region or a portion of income tax, we just need to have more revenue available so we can focus on those long-term issues without disproportionately impacting the current ratepayer.

"We're developing a housing strategy to work with central Government, to work with social service providers and also looking at opening up land to increase the rate of housing development locally too."

Given that he wants to build more social housing, it's no surprise that Chandulal-Mackay isn't in favour of selling any of the council's 275 pensioner flats.


"There has been talk around that for a decade. I just think with the levels of instability and volatility in the market, the last thing we want to be doing right now is creating uncertainty for current tenants and for people who need that housing."

But he is certainly keen to see Whanganui continue to develop as a community.

"Community events build that kind of community vibrancy and vitality within Whanganui. The town centre regeneration strategy for instance, the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment projects- arts culture and heritage operating in that social space - is what I'm really keen on."

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