Joanne Kuvarji believes it's time New Plymouth District Council decisions were made from a community perspective and this year is running for council and mayor, in an effort to make it happen.

"I am a Māori/European/Indian mother of many," she said. "I am a musician and a business owner and active citizen here in New Plymouth."

"The advantage of being a musician is you can do one or two gigs a week and you've got all this excess time, once your youngest goes to school. So I started volunteering.
I just became engrossed in everything community."

And it is that community engagement which makes Kuvarji confident she has what it takes for the role.

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"Being so actively involved in so many different areas of the community, from business to serving at community events, my relationship with people allows me to be able to delegate, communicate, guide and nurture - to bring out the strengths in our community members.

"You don't have a doctor who is a specialist in every field, you rely on the experts and that's what I would do."

Kuvarji sees growth in population and visitor numbers as a major challenge for Taranaki, with the strain on the region's ageing infrastructure already evident.

"My main focus is pastoral care but there is all the in-betweens. So there's really important things like in Bell Block there's brown water coming out of the taps. That's their drinking water.

"The storm waters in Waitara are just being addressed after many, many years of deputations from residents.

"Our population is meant to grow by about 27 per cent in the next 20-30 years. Potentially there's going to be 400 homes that are being approved by council to be built in Oakura. So it would be really good for us to be able to cater to that. As well as the development in Marfell of 68 homes, and that's only the ones being built in the next 24 months."

Kuvarji also wants the council to focus on helping community groups thrive.

"The LGB community, they are at the moment forming a committee and they need support from local council as well to be able to establish that."

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Not one to shy away from controversy, Kuvarji would like to make it easier for people to live in their vehicles.

"I would really like to see a permit made for our freedom campers - our locals who choose to live in their cars or in their vehicles - so they can live comfortably without getting fines and still maintain the current policies that are in place.

"We have these amazing events and we have these public amenities that are amazing, but when it comes down to it, if there are people sleeping on the street and people who can't afford to eat, then something needs to be changed."

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