Parking shambles, over spending, high rates, debt, shoddy footpaths and housing were among the topics raised by candidates vying for Rotorua's senior citizens' election ticks.

Grey Power hosted two meet the candidates public meetings on Thursday. The first at 2pm saw a packed house of more than 150 people hearing from most of those wanting to represent them as councillors or mayor for the Rotorua Lakes Council.

The second meeting was to be held at 7pm.

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Meet the candidates Grey Power meeting

The meeting wasn't without controversy with a small group of people walking out after the meeting initially refused to allow three candidates who had not RSVP'd to speak.


Chairman Gerald Hanson introduced mayoralty candidates, telling the audience it would hear from council candidates Kevin Coutts, Peter Bentley and Lachlan McKenzie if time allowed.

When his decision was met with some boos from the crowd, Grey Power president Miriam Ruberl took the microphone and said every candidate had ample time to respond if they wanted to attend.

"I find it extraordinary people from the floor think they should be the ones who should decide how this meeting should run. We are going to stick to our programme," she said.

A man and a woman near the front got up and left, saying as they walked out "this is not a dictatorship".

As it turned out, time did allow and the three remaining council candidates were allowed to speak.

Grey Power members listen intently to candidates. Photo / Stephen Parker
Grey Power members listen intently to candidates. Photo / Stephen Parker

The seniors were asked at the beginning of the meeting not to "heckle" any of the speakers during their allocated three minutes, supposedly to answer two questions - why they chose to stand and what issues relating to seniors would they pursue?

As some of the talkers got off-topic and spent too long introducing themselves - some making it all the way to the buzzer before answering the questions - there were murmurings from brutally honest members of the crowd such as "so what?", and "what will you actually do?" and "how exactly?" .

Halfway through the meeting, Hanson reminded the speakers why they were there.


"Fly your own flag for a little while but please answer the questions."

Ruberl said this was the first time they had decided to hold two public meetings.

She said since many of their members were also still working, it was difficult for them to get to the day-time meeting, while other members preferred not to go to one later at night.

She said most candidates were able to speak at both meetings.

More than 150 people attended to decide who to vote for. Photo / Stephen Parker
More than 150 people attended to decide who to vote for. Photo / Stephen Parker

What the council candidates said:

Liz Carrington

She had three dreams in life, to have children, to own a Morris Minor and to move to New Zealand. When she did she said she knew she was home. She stood for community inclusion, intergenerational connection and well-being, the power of people to drive change and the pursual of a dementia friendly city.

Brendan Davis
He said he bought his daughter's wand and told the crowd he wanted to wave it and get rid of all rates but he said he knew that wasn't possible. He wanted to see rates capped, central city parking meters sorted out, more parking freed up, change to heavy wheelie bins and free monthly tea parties to discuss council business.

Alan Deverson
He wants to curb rates, curb spending, have no more statues or mud festivals, improve parking, improved footpaths and have the Green Corridor removed to free up parking.

Dave Donaldson
He wants to improve inner-city living to allow residents to enjoy the facilities such as supermarkets, the library, Kuirau Park and soon to be redeveloped museum and Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

Mark Gould
He wants the "total disaster" of the central city parking fixed and he reminded people he voted against the rates increase. He also wants footpaths that still haven't been built or fixed sorted out.

Ryan Gray
He said the "carparking situation is not up to scratch" and they should all accept coins. He wants to work on housing and safety in the city.

Trevor Maxwell
He will continue supporting the 2030 Vision and mayor Steve Chadwick, saying the city needed strong leadership from someone who had done well to get funding for city's projects through her former cabinet colleagues.

Trish Hosking
She said she was worried about the direction the council was taking and change was needed and said the council was injecting large sums of money it couldn't afford while neglecting the basics.

Peter Jones
With his banking background, he highlighted how much rates had gone up compared with the cost of living. He said he resented paying his growing rates bill and said the mindset of spending instead of saving needed to change.

Julie Kerry
She moved to Rotorua because she was impressed with the city's growth. She said there needed to be investment in education and accommodation. She said the city needed to continue to grow but not by putting up rates.

Oscar Nathan
He said the council could do a lot better. He said parking in the CBD was "ridiculous" and events were given money that were never going to "fly". He said it was "rich" hearing from those already on the council what they wanted to do, saying "you don't have time for people to keep promising you what they are going to do".

John Rakei-Clark
He said he had national wrestling titles and now wanted to work for the people. He said rates needed to be capped as he personally had to take out a loan two years ago to pay his rates.

Conan O'Brien
He said the council was "full of spenders" and the level of debt the council now had was not affordable. He said he was concerned about CBD safety. He asked "can we trust the people who got us into this mess?". He said it was time for change.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait
She reminded people councillors were one of a number and she didn't always get her own way. But she said she wasn't a pushover and she would work for all residents.

Linda Rowbotham
She said she was tired of rates rises and the council needed to get back to basics by operating within budgets and making sure infrastructure was sorted so more homes could be built.

Alan Solomon
He said in 10 years Rotorua's current population of 10,000 aged over 65 would double to 20,000 and he was about developing young leaders to come through to ensure there were people working for the older members of the city.

Kaya Sparke
She said she would push for a halt in rates rises and look to big businesses for investment to improve things such as healthcare.

Tania Tapsell
She thanked the residents for their support during the past six years and said she would continue to work for families, finance and future. She said affordable and adequate housing was important because Rotorua's population would be 100,000 in 30 years and that meant the city needed 500 new homes every year.

Shirley Trumper
She wants to introduce 20 to 30 minutes at the start of council meetings for members of the public to voice their concerns. She said she doesn't make promises she couldn't keep but she worked hard.

Fisher Wang
He said infrastructure wasn't capable to cope with the influx of people expected and we needed a council that reflected all sectors of the community.

Bam Whare
He said he was standing purely for change and the community had come to a standstill. He said he would introduce "new legislation" to invest "more tax money" into housing.

Kevin Coutts
He said he didn't sit back and let other people do things and he was a "doer". He said parking needed to be sorted and he didn't make promises he couldn't' keep as he was just "one voice".

Lachlan McKenzie
He said the infrastructure was failing, including footpaths. He said "intergenerational debt" was "nonsense" and "ridiculous".

Peter Bentley
He said he hadn't achieved much on the council as most of the time he was a "sole voice" He said Rotorua had so many natural resources such as geothermal it should be the retirement capital of New Zealand with lots of people in warm dry homes and happy they had low power bills.

What the mayoralty candidates said:

Steve Chadwick

She said she loved being the city's mayor and the council had consulted widely and made changes. She said the city told them it wanted more growth, more people to move to Rotorua and more jobs and they had gone about working towards that. She said the Lakefront when it was finished would result in people saying "we have got the wow factor back in Rotorua".

Dennis Curtis
He said "on October 12 I am asking for your trust". He said he didn't want to spend anyone's money and wanted to look at the Rates Rebates Act to see how the council could offset rates more for seniors.

Rob Kent
He said he was only one voice on the council and he was disappointed at the council's "unnecessary spending and bad decisions". He too said he wanted pensioners to pay less in rates and would lobby to use the Rates Rebate Act to get there.

Reynold MacPherson (council candidate and mayoralty candidate)
He said he would hold rates rises down to inflation and sort out the "backlog of infrastructure maintenance". He said too much money had been spent on "vanity, legacy and pay back projects" and there should be a return to basic services and investment.