While Mayor Neil Holdom's current role may have not have been deliberate, it's a role he has enjoyed after accidentally winning the mayoralty three years ago.

"I got permission from my wife to stand for public office," Holdom said. "I was hoping to get on the council as a councillor, accidentally ended up Mayor of New Plymouth."

This year he's re-standing for the mayoralty, although this time he's working hard to win.

In this video interview with Local Focus, Holdom says he is motivated to make New Plymouth the low carbon energy centre of New Zealand.


"We're killing climate change," Holdom said.

"It's interesting watching what is going on in the rest of the country as political figures wake up to the nature of this. We've seen it coming in Taranaki, all of the councils here and Iwi, and we are quite a tight community. There's only 120,000 of us so we are quite a tight community and we are getting after it.

"We've said to the Government 'we'll help you to carbonise using our energy companies and using our engineering expertise and drive this transition to a low-carbon high-value economy' and that's a huge piece of work.

"We actually held the first ever national Just Transition summit. The PM came and opened that but what we are looking at doing is looking at everything. We are putting in a wind farm in South Taranaki that Genesis Energy is doing, we've got a hydrogen project being initiated down in South Taranaki with Ballance, which is a local fertiliser company, looking at wind farms using hydrogen and ammonia urea.

"We've got a company called 8 Rivers who want to build a zero-carbon gas-fired power station down in the port, its scale is a world first ... so we've got a bunch of initiatives."

Climate change isn't the only challenge facing Taranaki. Holdom wants to focus on ways to keep young people in the region.

"For people that are excited about this transition to a low carbon economy, come to Taranaki and undertake your education. We have the National New Energy Centre which the Government has agreed to fund up to $47 million over the next four years, so we can educate our young people.

"And we've got research and development and we've got the industries here to develop some pretty cool careers.


"We've got waves and we've got Azure Wave tech who have a prototype that's been working for three years off the coast of Hawaii and, without need of maintenance, producing electricity.

Holdom is also concerned at some of New Plymouth's ageing infrastructure, some of which he says needs urgent attention.

"The pipes - water network, wastewater network, stormwater network - it's all tired, it all requires significant investment.

"Water is probably our major concern. We are growing as a region about 1000 people a year which for us is 1 per cent, and if we don't secure a new supply of water or new water storage there is a potential our taps will run dry within a decade."

Finding a solution to the water crisis is no simple task, with council working closely alongside Iwi.

"What we are doing is sitting down with them and saying here is the problem definition, this is the growth in demand, how then do then we solve it?

"We don't actually have a solution," he said. "We are looking to them to come up with the options which then we will consider."

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