Local elections 2019

After three terms representing the Waipa-King Country, Cambridge farmer Stu Kneebone is putting himself forward for re-election.

"I've gained valuable experience, understand the regional council, and believe I have a lot to offer," he says.

"The regional council is a complex business, and its roles and responsibilities have evolved considerably since it was created nearly three decades ago.

"However, the management of natural resources, and the way in which the council allocates the rights to use them still underpins everything we do and can achieve as a region.


"With so much of our regional economy reliant on our natural resource base, it is vital that we get it right."

Stu notes the proposed plan change for the Waikato and Waipa rivers has been a time consuming and challenging process, particularly for those most affected by the proposed new rules, however he remains confident that the five independent hearing commissioners are up to the task, and will deliver the right result.

"Giving effect to the vision and strategy for the Waikato and Waipa rivers will be challenging," says Stu.

"However, I'm confident that the majority of farmers want to get it right."

He does, however, note that with the impending release of the Government's proposed new freshwater standards, things are still somewhat uncertain.

Stu says that governments of recent times have increasingly demonstrated a tendency to direct from above, without necessarily having a good appreciation of local issues, and so the regional council needs to maintain a strong voice in Wellington to ensure any new national directives are realistic and affordable, and will achieve the right outcome.

"The ongoing battle against unwanted weeds and pests is never ending, and there is never enough money, yet I'm resolute in his belief that we can't afford to let up," he says.
"This is important, not only to protect and maintain our primary production base, but to ensure the future of our native species."

Stu says he's continually inspired by the achievements of the many individuals and community groups who give freely of their time and effort for the many restoration projects throughout the region.


"Supporting these groups, along with the numerous on farm riparian and soil conservation projects under way throughout the Waikato and Waipa river catchments is a no brainer," says Stu. "and is something I will continue to advocate strongly for.

"I'm not one for playing games and indulging in stupid politics. I like to listen to people's views, do my homework, get my head around the issues, and advocate strongly for what I think is the right thing to do.

"And even if I don't agree with some of the opinions out there, I think it's important that they are heard."

Stu says that while councils can never please everyone, they do need to ensure the communities views and opinions are taken on board, and are well understood.

This is a crucial part of council decision making, as it is is "the people out there on the ground, who have to deal with the practical realities of new policies and regulations".
"Change is constant, and there is always something new to challenge us.

"Climate change is a serious issue, and impacts much of council's business, so we need to be proactive with how we deal with it.

"I'm a firm believer in evidence based decision making," says Stu.

"We are reliant on good information to ensure critical decisions are made in a timely manner. And with ever increasing pressure to do more with less, its more important than ever that we are open to new ways of doing things, and are vigilant in our pursuit of opportunities to reduce costs."