Regional candidates speak out


What are the views of Waikato Regional Council candidates on the environment, sustainability and more?

Tamahere Forum put questions to the Waikato constituency candidates and has drawn together other online information to bring you a picture of the council hopefuls.

This is the question we put to the four candidates:

Collectively, we have done so little for so long to address rising carbon emissions in the atmosphere that what was once called ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ is now considered a climate crisis. Governments around the world and councils around the country are declaring a “climate (and ecological) emergency” and devising action steps to tackle it.

If you are elected to Waikato Regional Council, what action(s) will you champion to address the issues of sustainability and the environment?

(Responses are listed in the order they were received.)

Richard Gee responded with the following statement:

WRC Waikato constituency candidate Richard Gee

Providing we can balance efficient farming of all types we must consider the environment future, I want a community my grandson would be proud to say was looked after before him. It means talking with the landowners, farmers, business people and working together on solutions, it does not mean central govt creating unworkable laws etc

The Regional council needs to consult more, interact more, and listen to the communities and develop workable strategies for the future. I certainly will listen and take on board what the people farming etc have to say in my decisions on the Regional council. Sustainability means working with the people on the land.

Fred Lichtwark responded with the following statement:

WRC Waikato constituency candidate Fred Lichtwark

In the past 25 years, as the manager of Whaingaroa Harbour Care, we’ve worked with 80+ landowners and planted almost 2 million trees to protect water quality in streams and the Whaingaroa Harbour. At the same time, farmers have fenced almost 500km of streams and harbour edges and retired hundreds of hectares of land.

These farmers will be unaffected by recently announced changes to freshwater policies, as they are already managing nutrients, sediments and pollutants on their farms to improve water quality.

As your regional Councillor for the past three years, I’ve been committed to value for money, sustainable farming and clean water – we all deserve swimmable rivers, lakes and harbours and working together we can achieve this in 20 years.

My experience proves that involving communities can be a win, win; we can reduce rates and enjoy a healthy, resilient environment and economy.

In three years as your Councillor, I’ve improved Council’s purchasing policy, now our rates money is spent locally to optimize community wellbeing. I’ve also enabled Council to use technology to reduce costs, improve consent compliance and ensure polluters are caught.

There are two very important plans under review right now, the Coastal Plan and the Regional Plan. These two plans will have major impacts on our communities. My biggest challenge as Councillor, is to encourage Council to step back and let communities take the lead in catchment management. From experience, I know that communities can achieve this at far less cost than Council and with better outcomes.

If I’m elected again, I’ll keep working for ratepayers and focus on building resilience in our communities for the effects of climate change by improving flood defenses and enabling landowners to plant more native trees, I will move our/WRC diesel bus fleet into electric buses making public transport cheaper and some free. Promote and support a regional waste to energy power plant. Park and ride electric fast rail to Auckland return. Promote and support communities into circular economy.

And I will have open eyes and ears to take advantage of what communities think will help on this topic as we all need to be thinking of what we should and could do to take action to reduce carbon to atmosphere.

Fred Lichtwark featured in a video here

Keith Holmes responded with the following statement:

WRC Waikato constituency candidate Keith Holmes

Defining sustainability and who should pay are the questions we should be asking ourselves

Hidden in behind the questions and answers, we should also be asking the biggest question, of whether the science is robust?

The third question we should be asking is whether we are asking the right questions, because in the “Age of Complexity”, too many are chasing a single issue and not seeing the “bigger picture”.

In my view there are three givens

1. We are going through a cycle of global warming

2. The human footprint is so huge that the speed of effect is beyond the earths ability to heal itself in our lifetimes

3. The developed world’s share and use of resources with a throw away mentality, is flagrant abuse in the “home” we live in, which happens to be planet Earth

So to put this all in context, society as a whole has to ask itself the questions as to what sort of world we want for our children and grandchildren – and more importantly what are we personally prepared to forego to achieve it. Sadly like Lemmings jumping over a cliff, people are in the blame game mode, forgetting their personal “resource footprint” is a thousand times greater than someone living in Ethiopia.

For me the greatest challenges we have are two – overpopulation and the availability of fresh water. These are both a world-wide phenomenon and a local one.

With the current demographic trends, we will have a population in NZ of 8 to 10 million by 2050. This in turn means another 2 million in the Waikato region. Like most developed countries the Waikato is drying out and our water take already is exceeding our replenishment capabilities and that’s not accounting for Auckland’s demands.

The implications of this are huge. We seriously have to look at the rate of immigration. We also have to urgently learn to harvest and replenish our fresh water. By simply understanding the biotic and hydrological cycles we can cool NZ and the planet very quickly, as well as harvest significantly more water.

My focus if elected will be good governance. The RMA is a particularly visionary and enlightened piece of legislation. The key is in the interpretation. We have to protect our soils, we have to move from the stridency of water quality, to the macro issues of how much water use per person, and that includes requirements for food production. We have to halt our expanding urban footprint and push towns and cities upwards but with innovative and affordable housing for everyone. We also have to work with district councils, which is also our brief, to infuse quality of life for all our constituents

Every generation has had its Armageddon, and worked through it and survived. We need to be positive, visionary and inclusive and by doing so we can make our region an even better place than it is now. By being smart now we can avoid collateral damage.

Keith Holmes’ website is here.

Keith Holmes featured here on Number 8 Network

Pamela Storey responded with the following statement:

WRC Waikato constituency candidate Pamela Storey

For the last 20+ years, I have been actively involved in initiatives that contribute to decreasing carbon emissions. As an electrical engineer, I was involved in establishing additional renewable generation in the Waikato, including the original siting and landowner agreement for the Te Uku wind farm, and the establishment of a landfill gas-to-energy project at Horotui.

As the Executive Chair of the Huntly Energy Efficiency Trust, I developed an organisation from 2001-2008 which created jobs for long-term unemployed through the installation of energy efficiency measures in low-income home. HEET provided employment for 24 people, insulated 7000+ homes across the region and was recognised with a national award from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

As the Board Chair of Go Eco (formerly the Waikato Environment Centre) from 2009-2018, I provided the leadership to develop the organisation into the dynamic growing organisation that it is now, delivering environmental initiatives across the region, including the well-recognised Kaivolution, the Waikato’s first food rescue service, which prevents edible food from going to landfill and distributes it to people in need – minimising waste, environmental impact, and hunger.

I have also developed my governance skills in this area as a board member of the Energy Management Association of New Zealand, the Council for Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership, and as the formative Chair of the Community Energy Network. Alongside this work, as a member of the Dairy Environmental Leaders Forum and the Dairy Women’s Network Board, I am a proud dairy farmer and have worked alongside progressive, focused and considered food producers that continuously look to improve their practices and are exceptional stewards of their land.

Should I be elected as your representative to the Waikato Regional Council, I will continue to bring the commitment, ethos and championship of initiatives that address our rising carbon footprint, as I have shown in practice here in the Waikato for the last 20+ years.

Pamela Storey’s website is here.

Pamela Storey featured here on Number 8 Network.

Profiles on each of the candidates can be viewed here.

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