Local elections 2019

"Let's stick 'em in a barn . . . and let's get WINZ to pay for it."

This is one of the solutions council candidate John Rakei-Clark has proposed for tackling the city's growing homeless population.

The issue was a key conversation point brought up at the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce's meet the council candidate event last night, which also saw a candidate walk out of the room.

Twenty-eight of the 34 people gunning for a seat on the Rotorua Lakes Council were at the event held at the Holiday Inn, and each was given two-and-a-half minutes to introduce themselves and explain their key concerns and goals.

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Timekeepers had a yellow card to show after two minutes and a red card when their two-and-a-half minutes was up.

Three candidates gave apologies and three did not show up.

At the event Rakei-Clark said, in regards to the homeless issue, "lets make a change."

"Homeless. There's homeless and there's also family housing," he said.

"Homeless, let's stick 'em in a barn... and lets get WINZ to pay for it."

At this point, the bell rang to indicate he had 30 seconds remaining and the audience began to clap.

He invited people to look into his initiative programme.

He also said he would like to see the council "give Neighbourhood Watch some wheels," with crime something he was concerned about.

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The candidates ranged in age, ideas, life experience and thoughts about what a council should do.

Rotorua council candidates at the 'meet the candidates' event in Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner
Rotorua council candidates at the 'meet the candidates' event in Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner

Rotorua's youngest candidate Fisher Wang wanted to bring diversity to the council and help account for the younger population which would be impacted by council decisions.

"Wisdom of age and the passion and enthusiasm of youth" was how he said big issues could be tackled.

But there was a common ground across the board with the key issues highlighted being:
• irresponsible and unnecessary spending by the council
• infrastructure and rates
• the housing crisis and tourism
• climate change, Rotorua lakes and waterways

Support for mokopuna, tamariki and rangatahi were also speckled throughout the statements.

Alan Tane Solomon would like to see a world-class confidence course for young people with a significant part of his campaign to support young people.

"We've got issues and problems but a lack of vision," he said of the current council, and said his visions went further than 2030.

The evening was rounded up after the quick-fire statements with a round of hard-hitting questions about important issues which were asked by Chamber of Commerce president John McRae.

These were yes/no style questions and candidates were asked to stand with the answer which resonated most with their beliefs.

A question about if candidates supported the direction of the current council's 2030 vision ended with Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayer's candidate Reynold Macpherson storming off.

The options to answer were "yes", "no, I support the vision of the RDRR" and, "no".

Macpherson stood in support of the second option and said, "this is not an opportunity to present our policies in detail," but was cut off by the crowd.

"I thought it was a yes or no question," a member of the public said to Macpherson.

He responded and said he would not continue to take part.

"This is all a set-up," he said as he left.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said he was happy with the turnout of both locals and candidates and found the evening informative.

There will be a Meet the Mayoral Candidates next Thursday from 5pm to 7pm at the Holiday Inn, Rotorua.

All members of the public are invited to the free event and should register interest at the Chamber of Commerce website.