Too few seats in South Island

November 21, 2019

The Boundaries Commission has announced proposed changes to electorate boundaries:

Where possible the current boundaries have been retained to minimise the number of people affected by electorate boundary and name changes. Of the 71 existing electorates, 36 are unchanged. The adjustments in other electorates reflect changes in population since 2014 when the boundaries were last reviewed,” says Representation Commission chair Judge Craig Thompson.

The biggest areas of change are in the Auckland region, Christchurch, and Otago and Southland. . .

North Island general electorates

  • Rodney is redrawn to include Dairy Flat and Coatesville, and renamed Whangaparāoa
  • Helensville is extended into Northland, Rodney (now Whangaparāoa) and Upper Harbour, and loses the Waitakere Ranges to New Lynn
  • The addition of population to New Lynn from the north means changes are also required to Mt Roskill, Maungakiekie, Manukau East, and Manurewa
  • Flat Bush is created by drawing population from the existing electorates of Hunua, Manurewa and Papakuraand includes Wattle Downs and Takanini
  • Population from Waikato is added to Hunua which is renamed Port Waikato. Adjustments are also made to the boundaries of Waikato with Coromandel, Hamilton West and Taupō
  • Adjustments are also made to the boundaries of Whangarei and Bay of Plenty

South Island general electorates

  • Brightwater is moved from Nelson to West Coast-Tasman
  • Selwyn is redrawn and no longer includes Banks Peninsula. Adjustments are also made to Ilam, Wigram, Port Hills (renamed Banks Peninsula), Christchurch East and Rangitata
  • Clutha-Southland gains the Alexandra and Clyde area from Waitaki
  • Otago Peninsula is moved from Dunedin South to Dunedin North, and South Otago is added to Dunedin South from Clutha-Southland
  • Winton and The Catlins are added to Invercargill from Clutha-Southland.

Few if any of these changes are unexpected.

In the south, Dunedin South might be regarded as a little more marginal, Invercargill will probably be a bit bluer and Dunedin North will still be red.

Clutha Southland and Waitaki will cover a little less area, still be larger than some countries, and still be blue.

Banks Peninsula will be a bit bluer than the Port Hills one it replaces.

Māori electorates

  • Tāmaki Makaurau gains an area around Te Atatū South from Te Tai Tokerau and an area in East Manurewa from Hauraki Waikato
  • A minor adjustment between Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Te Tai Tonga is made in Naenae.

Names of electorates

Four electorate name changes are proposed: Rodney to Whangaparāoa, Hunua to Port Waikato, Rimutaka to Remutaka and Port Hills to Banks Peninsula.

The proposals create one new general electorate bringing the total number of electorates to 72: 16 general seats in the South Island, 49 in the North and seven Maori seats.

That will mean one less list seat – 48, down 12 from the 60 when MMP was introduced.

The number of seats in parliament is set at 120 (unless there’s an overhang) and the number of South Island seats is set at 16.

After every census the South’s population is divided by 16 to set the number of people per seat plus or minus 10%. The North’s population is growing faster than the South’s which is why it keeps getting an extra seat. That is likely to continue and it enough more people opt for the Maori roll rather than the general one, another Maori roll would result in the loss of another list seat.

Politik asks if there’s too many South Island seats.

There are not, there are too few.

Clutha Southland and Waitaki, the biggest and third biggest general electorates are getting a little smaller but are still far too big geographically and proposed changes will make West Coast Tasman, the second biggest general electorate, even bigger. They’re all bigger than all but one of the Maori electorates, Te Tai Tonga, which covers the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and a bit of Wellington.

The difficulties of servicing electorates as large as these mean no matter how good their MPs are, they can’t possibly give their constituents the same attention that those with smaller electorates do.

If MMP’s proportionality is to be maintained, the number of MPs will have to be increased and I’d argue for at least one more South Island electorate to make the bigger ones a little more manageable.

You can find existing a proposed boundaries on a map here.


Labour logo a liability?

June 9, 2014

Remember last election Labour MPS and candidates left their then-leader Phil Goff’s photo off their billboards?

It was a sign they had no faith in him and regarded him as a liability

This time, the party’s candidate for Waitaki appears to regard the Labour logo as a liability.

On her Facebook page she says she’s the Labour candidate but this is what she shows:

lablogo

 

A picture paints a thousand words and none of the words this picture paints is Labour.

National MP Jacqui Dean holds the seat with 61.45% of the votes cast and a majority of 14143.

The boundary has changed and the electorate is a little smaller than it was three years ago but that’s unlikely to have much, if any, impact on the election result.

Alexander hasn’t a hope of winning the electorate and it would appear she’s not even trying for the party vote.


Maori Seats too big – Flavell

November 25, 2013

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is concerned about the size of Maori electorates:

The Representation Commission has proposed no changes to the boundaries of the seven Maori electorates, because they are within their population quota.

Mr Flavell says it does not address the ”ridiculous” situation that the Tai Tonga MP is expected to represent over half of the land area of Aotearoa, which spans 18 general electorates.

He says the size of the Maori electorates is a major problem it has discussed with the Electoral Commission and MPs, but says there is no political will to change it.

He’s right about  Te Tai Tonga which covers 161, 443 square kilometres – that’s the whole of the South and Stewart Islands and part of Wellington Region.

But the next biggest seats are general ones. Clutha Southland covers 38,247 sq kms and West Coast Tasman covers 38, 042 sq kms.

Then comes the Maori seat of Te Tai Hauauru at 35, 825 sq kms and  the general seat of  Waitaki  which covers 34,888 sq kms.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti, a Maori seat, covers 30,952 sq kms then another general seat Kaikoura is 23, 706 sq kms.

The next two Maori seats are Waiariki at 19,212 sq kms and Te Tai Tokerau at 16, 370 sq kms. Then comes three general seats – East Coast (13,649); Taranaki-King Country (12, 869) and Northland (12, 255) and the smallest Maori electorate Hauraki-Waikato (12,580).

Mr Flavell says electoral law guarantees there will be at least 16 general electorates in the South Island so each one won’t be too big, and that approach should apply to Maori electorates.

The law actually says there will be 16 South Island seats and two of  those – Clutha Southland and West-Coast Tasman are bigger than all but Te Tai Tonga, Waitaki is bigger than all but that and Te Tai Hauauru ; Kaikoura is bigger than Waiariki and Te Tai Tokerau and the three biggest North island seats East Coast, Taranaki-King Country and Northland are all bigger than Hauraki-Waikato.
Electorate sizes are determined by dividing the South Island population by 16 with a tolerance of 5% over or under that figure.I agree that most Maori seats are too big but so are some of the general ones. MMP gives better representation to parties but bigger electorates provides poorer representation for people.The simplest way to reduce the area electorates cover is to increase the number of seats but that would require more MPs or reduce the number of list seats and so reduce proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths.Another way to reduce the area MPs have to service is to get rid of Maori electorates and keep the total number of seats we have now. That would add a seat in the South Island and make all electorates a bit smaller but I don’t think that will get any support from Flavell.


Maori seats don’t give representation

April 26, 2013

Maori are being canvassed to register on either the general or Maori roll.

If they’re in Te Tai Tokerau and want decent representation they should be opting for the general roll because their MP, Hone Harawira, is a rare sight in parliament.

Mana Party leader has been absent for 49 of the 120 sitting days since the 2011 election.

Mana leader Hone Harawira described himself as going “to battle for those without a voice in Parliament” at his party’s conference this month but he has been a rare sight in Parliament this year. . . .

Speaker David Carter said a formal attendance record for MPs was no longer kept, but Mr Harawira had been given 49 days of leave since the 2011 election, during which Parliament has sat for about 120 days. Party leaders have more responsibilities than other MPs, but most, including Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Shearer, attend on two of the three sitting days. . .

Most Maori seats are considerably bigger than the average general seat which means even a very good MP would struggle to service the electorate well.

However, Harawira has the second smallest Maori seat so can’t use electorate size as an excuse.

Te Tai Tokerau  at 16,370 square kilometres is less than half the size of the three biggest general seats, Clutha Southland, West Coast Tasman and Waitaki,  and a fraction the size of Te Tai Tonga which covers an area of 161, 433 square kilometres.

Te Tai Hauauru covers 35, 825 square kilometres, Ikaroa Rawhiti is  30,952 square kilometres in area, the general seat of Kaikoura covers 23,706 square kilometres, and Waiariki covers 19,212 square kilometres.

A party leader does have other duties but if the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition generally make it to two of the three sitting days each week, Harawira can’t use that as an excuse either.

Although he is costing us more than any other MP who isn’t a minister:

Despite the cutback in travel to Wellington, Mr Harawira’s travel expenses for the first three months of the year were still higher than any other non-ministerial MP, including Mr Shearer.

Tariana Turia said Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice,   Harawira certainly isn’t giving his constituents a voice in parliament but he’s still racking up a very large travel bill.


Making a fuss or making a difference

December 21, 2011

Flying to a country when you know you won’t get past immigration at the border is making a fuss.

Putting up a billboard you know will offend people is making a fuss.

Posturing over making an oath when you know it’s a requirement of being sworn in is making a fuss.

The people behind these fusses were interested in publicity, and got it but they achieve anything else.

Fortunately there are still people who believe it’s better to make a difference and do so without making a fuss.

One of these is my MP, Jacqui Dean.

She rarely gets noticed by nationwide media, which is probably a good thing because unless you’re a minister nationwide media attention is usually for the wrong reasons. She earns a share of local and regional media by doing her job  – representing and advocating for her constituents.

That’s not easy when they’re spread across 34,880 square kilometres but she does it and the election results shows she does it well. The 23,219 votes from the 38,879 cast is a tribute not just to her campaign, although that would have helped, but much more to the six years of hard work she’s given to the electorate since she entered parliament.

The size of the vote indicates the electorate has a blue base. But it also shows that people who would never give a party vote to National recognise the difference Jacqui makes and give her their electorate vote in spite of her political allegiance.

Making a fuss gets you headlines but you need to make a difference to get support, especially when it’s from people who don’t support your party.


Many measures of diversity

November 30, 2011

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty is unhappy about the first decline in the number of women MPs since MMP was introduced and is blaming National.

National having only three female MPs in the top 20 shows a lack of commitment to gender representation.

“No country or Parliament is better off if women are blocked from political leadership,” Ms Delahunty said.

No-one’s blocking anyone and it’s got nothing to do with National’s commitment to gender representation.

National has a lot of electorate MPs which reduces the number of places available on the list, many are long serving, including those selected before MMP was introduced.

Among those with relatively new MPs are the three big central South Island electorates Waitaki, Rangitata and Selwyn, which might be regarded by some as conservative. All are represented by National women, – Jacqui Dean, Jo Goodhew and Amy Adams respectively. So is Waimakariri which Kate Wilkinson won on Saturday and Nicky Wagner is waiting for specials to see if she can take Christchurch Central which finished with a draw on election night.

There haven’t been many opportunities for new candidates in the last two elections but it is probable that a good number of the older MPs will retire this term or next which will provide openings for new entrants.

Anyone, man or woman, who wants to be a National MP should start working towards selection now if they haven’t already done so. That means taking an active role in the party and building up membership.

National is the only party which allows members to choose their candidate providing an electorate has sufficient members to do so.Candidates who’ve proven themselves as active members will have a better chance of winning selections.

Gaining selection with the support of members is far better than hoping you’ll get a winnable list place through tokenism.

Kiwiblog has a chart showing the demographics  of the new parliament, illustrating gender isn’t the only measure of diversity.

What he doesn’t show though is what the MPs did before entering parliament nor how many got a pay rise and how many took a cut.

That’s another measure of diversity in which I suspect National would do very well.


Why stand to lose?

August 9, 2011

During the 2002 election campaign we knew National’s chances of winning were slim but those of us working in Otago didn’t expect to lose the seat as well.

I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought Labour’s candidate, David Parker, didn’t rate his own chances very highly in the seat and possibly didn’t even want to win it. I’ve always wondered if he was standing to lose the seat but gain a toe in the door for a Dunedin seat when one of the city MPs retired.

However, whether or not he intended to win he did and served three years as an electorate MP before Jacqui Dean won the seat back for National in 2005.

Boundaries changed and the electorate’s name changed too. He stood in the new Waitaki electorate in 2008 and this time made it quite clear he wasn’t trying to win. He conceded to Jacqui  at a public meeting in Geraldine a couple of weeks before the election much to the consternation of Labour Party volunteers who were supporting him.

They made it clear to their party HQ that Parker wouldn’t be welcome back as a candidate. When he didn’t put his name forward to succeed Pete Hodgson in Dunedin North it was assumed he’d decided he preferred being a list MP. His decision to stand in Epsom doesn’t change that because he’s very unlikely to win.

Why, then, is he doing it?

Could it be because this seat will get a lot of media attention which will help his leadership aspirations? Could it also be that he’s not only looking for Phil Goff’s job but his seat as well?

Is he standing in Epsom not to win but to make a showing in Auckland and help his chances at selection in Mt Roskill when Goff retires?

P.S. His media release included this:

National and Act are taking the people of Epsom for granted and treating them like sheep to try and construct an outcome that brings MMP into disrepute . . .

That’s a bit rich when one of the aspects people most dislike about MMP is not accommodations made publicly between parties before elections, but that MPs voted out of an electorate come back on the list in exactly the way he did.


To stand or not to stand

July 21, 2011

National and Act are being criticised for a possible deal under which Act wouldn’t stand candidates in marginal seats.

MMP allows such deals and it’s not very different from parties telling supporters how to rank their preferences under Preferential Voting systems.

While there might not have been an overt deal before, minor parties have made it clear they aren’t seeking electorate votes in previous elections.

I’ve attended meet-the-candidates meeting in Waitaki, and before that Otago every election since MMP was introduced and every Green candidate has told supporters s/he’s only interested in the party vote and they should give their electorate vote to Labour.

Minor parties are unlikely to win electorate seats and when it’s the party vote that determines the make-up of parliament, not winning seats doesn’t affect how many MPs they get. But standing or not standing candidates in electorates can influence the outcome for those seats.

In 1999 the Green Party candidate for Otago got 1,872 votes. In the 2002 election the party didn’t stand a candidate in the electorate and Gavan Herlihy, the sitting National MP lost to Labour’s David Parker by 684 votes. Act’s candidate Gerry Eckhoff got 1,294 votes and while not all those votes would have gone to National, enough probably would have to have enabled him to hold the seat.

Not putting up electorate candidates can come at a cost. Regardless of whether or not they’re seeking electorate votes, having a candidate contesting a seat can help boost list votes.

However, standing in every electorate is expensive and it also requires a party to have enough potential candidates, of sufficient calibre, to ensure they don’t do more harm than good.

If a party doesn’t have enough resources – human and financial – to contest all seats properly, it’s  better putting its efforts into the party vote alone.


Only National wants the provinces

April 11, 2011

The 2005 election resulted in a blue-wash through the provinces.

The only general seat outside the main centres which stayed red was Palmerston North.

If the attention being paid to provincial and rural seats in the south by political parties is anything to go by it seems the only one interested in them is National.

That’s par for the course for the wee parties which only turn up for photo ops between elections and have token candidates, if any, standing in electorates but only interested in the party vote.

But you’d expect Labour to at least look as if it was interested, if only to give some heart to its supporters but they don’t appear to be even trying.

The party’s 2005 candidate for Waitaki conceded defeat to National’s Jacqui Dean a couple of weeks before the election much to the disgust of the local party people. It doesn’t seem to have done him any harm with the hierarchy though, he’s number 4 on the 2011 list.

This year’s candidate for Waitaki is number 64, the candidate for neighbouring Rangitata is 56 and the Clutha Southland candidate is 54.

The Invercargill candidate, former MP Lesley Soper isn’t on the list. That’s not surprising when the party couldn’t even find an MP willing to support her at the electorate AGM.

List MP Damien O’Connor who lost he West Coast Tasman seat in 2005 isn’t on the list either because:

“I wouldn’t trust them. Between a gaggle of gays and some self-serving unionists, I’m not sure that a straight shooter such as myself would be given a fair deal.”

Labour leader Phil Goff said he had “scolded” Mr O’Connor about the comments, which the MP had told him about, “although … it will probably help him no end on the Coast. He’s a pretty straight talker and he used West Coast language.”

West Coast language?  Why doesn’t he just call them feral as his predecessor did? The coasters I know don’t talk like that but perhaps I know a more tolerant and pleasant sample of the people than he does.

O’Connor also said:

. . . he was disappointed the system did not deliver better results for rural and provincial candidates, such as himself, who were outside the party’s power blocs.

It’s not just Labour’s system which short-changes the provinces, it’s MMP.

Electorates are far too big and rural or provincial don’t feature among the categories which are supposed to make parliament more representative.


Would be MPs need enthusiasm

June 5, 2010

Dunedin North MP, Pete Hodgson, has announced he’ll retire at next year’s election.

Kiwiblog speculates that list MP David Parker is a likely successor.

If so he will need to show more enthusiasm for winning and holding the seat than he did for Otago and Waitaki.

I think Parker was surprised to win Otago in 2002 and he didn’t make much effort to hold it. I have some sympathy with him on that because it can’t have been easy juggling commitments to a young family in Dunedin with work in Wellington and one of the biggest electorates in the country.

His candidacy for Waitaki (which was formed from most of Otago and Aoraki when the boundaries changed) at the last election was at best perfunctory. He conceded defeat to National MP Jacqui Dean at a public meeting in Geraldine a couple of weeks before polling day much to the horror of Labour’s volunteers who were working in the electorate.

Dunedin North is much redder than Waitaki and far more compact. It’s just 642 square KMs compared with Waitaki’s 34,888 sq kms, and therefore much easier to service.


Tuesday’s answers

April 27, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. What does Waitaki  mean?

2. Name four of the seven heavenly virtues.

3. What does sapid mean?

4. Who said: “ There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women”? 

5. Whose autobiography is called Bums on Seats?

I got my translation of Waitaki  from A.W. reed’s Dictionary of Place Names.  It says rumbling waters but given Richard’s expertise in this area I’m accepting weeping waters too.

Points for answers:

David 3 plus 1/2 for two of the four virtues requested.

Richard got two and a bonus of satire.

Bearhunter got 3 and like David 1/2 for two virtues.

Paul got three plus 1/4 of the virtues (without losing anything for obsequiousness) and a bonus for satire.

Ray wins the electronic bunch of flowers this week with three plus 1/2 for two virtues and a bonus for the extra information on Waitaki.

The answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Monday’s quiz

April 26, 2010

1. What does Waitaki  mean?

2. Name four of the seven heavenly virtues.

3. What does sapid mean?

4. Who said: “ There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women”? 

5. Whose autobiography is called Bums on Seats?


It’s official – Prentice vs Shadbolt for mayoralty

April 12, 2010

Suzanne Prentice has confirmed the rumours – she is standing for the Invercargill mayoralty.

In a media statement she said:

 “I want to bring a fresh, energetic and focused approach and to afford the position of mayor the dignity which it deserves,” she said.

“I have thought long and hard about standing and keep finding myself concerned for the future of our city, its residents and its ratepayers.

“I want to take Invercargill forward and to lead an inspired, united, and focused council which strives to build a vibrant and prosperous city.”

Ms Prentice said she had been overwhelmed at the tremendous support and encouragement she had received from many concerned residents in regard to her standing.

“I thank every one of them for putting their trust in me and I want them to know that I will take their views forward as I now officially confirm my intention to stand.”

It was now time to focus on the future of the city, she said.

“We have some very experienced councillors with a great deal to offer. Unfortunately the distractions of the past two to three years have, to a certain degree, detracted from the positive work which they have done.

“Given the right leadership and direction, I believe we can build a cohesive team which puts its energy into what is best for Invercargill.

“I also have enormous respect for the employees of the Invercargill City Council, their work continues to be a credit to them all, sometimes in trying circumstances.”

Ms Prentice said she would be honoured to be the mayor of Invercargill

“I consider myself to be a true Southlander – my heart and my home are in this city and my family have had a long and proud association with Invercargill.”

Her father was born in Invercargill and after the war he and his English bride returned and made it their home.

“This was the place where they raised their three children, just as my husband Stephen and I have done with our children, Blair and Andrea, and as our son Blair continues to do with his wife Vanessa.

“We are a true and loyal Invercargill family,” she said, “and I know that I have their support as I embark on this new and important journey.”

Tim Shadbolt is an experienced and wily campaigner. Until now I would have thought the Invercargill mayoralty was his as long as he wanted it.

But the last term has been difficult and if anyone can beat him it would be Suzanne. She is a born and bred Southlander,  is very well known through her career as a singer and her community work and has served an apprenticeship in local body politics on the Invercargill Licensing Trust.

Busted Blonde who know a lot more about Southland than I do, gives her view on the mayoral race here.

Prentice’s announcement is the first official indication of any challenge to incumbent mayors in the south.

However, that may change.

The stadium has been very controversial in Dunedin and that may persuade someone to challenge sitting mayor Peter Chin. However, a would-be mayor has to do more than stand against something, s/he needs to stand for something too.

Concerns over the Otago Regional Council have been nowhere near as serious as those afflicting Environment Canterbury, but there may be enough dissatisfaction to drive a campaign against the chair and some sitting councillors.

Waitaki mayor Alex Familton has yet to announce his intentions but if I was a betting woman I’d put a little money on him standing again.

The grapevine has mentioned deputy mayor Gary Kircher and sitting councillor Jim Hopkins as possible contenders for the mayoralty, but is less sure about whether they would challenge Alex if he stands again.


Hon Dr, OBE & inspirational bloke

April 9, 2009
In his typically modest way Sid concluded his speech last night by saying, “In honouring me you have honoured yourselves because we have all been part of this.” He had a point, but he was the leader and continues to be an inspiration. 

The invitation was to celebrate the contribution Sid Hurst had made to the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company and the evening was a tribute to a man who is still doing more at 91 than many people half his age.

 

He learned about the importance of water early because North Otago was drought prone and farms were dependent on rain to supply water for stock and houses.

 

Sid’s family was one of the first in the district to install a flush loo in their home. It would have been an improvement on a longdrop but water shortages meant it could be flushed just once a day.

 

Sid was one of the people behind the Windsor Rural Water Scheme, New Zealand’s first, and one of the first to use irrigation in North Otago. He was also the driving force behind the development of irrigation on the Lower Waitaki.

 

Last night’s celebration was at Riverstone Kitchen which wouldn’t be there, offering superbly cooked fresh food, had irrigation not transformed the arid Waitaki Valley bringing more people, making more money and improving the environment.

 

Sid had been an innovator in farming and business, succeeding in both and helping other people and the wider community. His service was recognised when he was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Science from Lincoln University and awarded an OBE.

 

In his typically modest way, Sid concluded his remarks last night by saying, “In honouring me you have honoured yourselves because we have all been part of this.”

 

He had a point but he was the leader and continues to be an inspiration.

 

 


Inequities over staff increases

November 16, 2008
One of the unfortunate consequences of MMP is the larger area of electorates. The difficulty and added expense of servicing them has not been recognised by extra resources for their MPs.
However, thanks to one of the clauses in the agreement between National and the Maori Party  that will change.

All Maori MPs and all MPs in general seats which cover an area greater than 20,000 square kilometres will be entitled to an extra staff member, equivalent to three full time out of parliament staffers.

The Electorates which will benefit from this are:

Name

Area sq.km

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Tamaki Makaurau

730

The MPs representing them are Rahui Katene, Bill English, Chris Auchinvole,  Parekura Horomia, Jacqui Dean, Colin King, Tariana Turia, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira,  Nanaia Mahuta and Pita Sharples.

The area the bigger ones cover definitely justifies more help. But there are 21 general electorates which cover bigger areas than Tamaki Makaurau.

That raises the question of why an electorate covering a relatively small area of 730 square kilometres needs an extra staff member if these, which are bigger, don’t:

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

 


Where was the Labour candidate?

July 22, 2008

The NZ Lottery Grants Board has doanted up to $3.7 million towards the $9.7m refurbishment of Oamaru’s 100 year old Opera  House.

The grant from the board’s new significant projects fund is a welcome boost to local fundraising efforts and was announced by Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker today.

The board falls under Internal Affairs so it is appropriate the Minsiter was there, but where was the Labour candidate for Waitaki?

The house was sitting today and he’s a Minister with other responsibilities – but couldn’t he have made sure the announcement was made on a day when he was able to be there and bask in the attendant publicity? Or is he not really trying to win the seat?

Given it’s nearly 35,000 square kilometres I don’t blame him if he’d rather just be a List MP, but this may well be the first time in history a candidate has failed to make the most of an opportunity for good publicity 🙂


Dansey’s Pass

July 18, 2008

 

Walk the wind arch of this burnished place.

Leave the gravel road behind like childhood.

Tussock flayed by austere Waitaki winds

is harsh, archaic and blown quite clean.

Here nature still defies all subjugation

and I rejoice in blissful arrogance

standing solitary upon the lion’s back.

 

– Owen Marshall –

 

This is posted because it’s Montana Poetry Day.

 

Dansey’s Pass  is the shortest, but not necessarily fastest, route between North and Central Otago.


Consent Appeal Off Track

July 8, 2008

While debate rages over KiwiRail nationwide, North Otago has a local argument over whether a disused line should be re-opened to allow trains to run at all.

A branch line used to run from the limeworks on the outskirts of Weston to Oamaru. It was closed in 1997 and the lines were lifted a couple of years later but its owner, then NZ Railways, retained ownership in case it was needed for a cement plant.

However, when the Waitaki district plan was reviewed in 1993 the designation wasn’t properly recorded. OnTrack now needs it redesignated because it’s the best means of transport for Holcim NZ  if its plans for a new cement plant in the Waiareka Valley come to fruition.

The new plant would be a $400m investment for Holcim but its plans have not been greeted with universal enthusiasm and the Waiareka Valley Preservation Society  was set up to oppose the proposal.

Resource consent was granted in February but both Holcim and the WVPS have lodged appeals – the former over some of the conditions, that latter over the approval.

OnTrack’s application to redesignate the line came in the middle of all this and the WVPS submitted against it. Independent commissioner Allan Cubitt recommended that approval be given and because OnTrack is a requiring authority under the Resource Management Act it makes the final decision. Not surprisingly it accepted the commissioner’s recommendation but now the WVPS, which submitted against the application, is appealing that consent too. Their appeal will be considered with the others on Holcim’s proposal in the Environment Court.

We farm next to the site for Holcim’s plant and another of our properties neighbours the company’s sand pit, which will be used if the cement works go ahead. 

I submitted in support of Holcim’s proposal at the resource consent hearings. I’ll cover the details in a future blog, but the short argument is that there would be substantial economic and social benefits for the district if the cement works go ahead; and RMA conditions will safeguard the environment.

As for the railway line, I crossed it several times a week when it was open before and can’t recall any problems then. People who have built beside the rail corridor since the track closed will have concerns; but once they get used to them they’ll hardly notice a few trains a day – and they will not run at night.

I think the WVPS objections have more to do with the society’s opposition to Holcim than the reopening of the railway line. And that’s one of the frustrations with the RMA – it allows people objecting to one thing to object to another in the hope of stopping the first.


Nikken Seil Dream Over

June 24, 2008

Dr Hirotomi Ochi  bought Teschmakers, a former Catholic girls’ boarding school, and 500 hectares of land in 2001 to set up an international centre in North Otago for health sciences and the growing and processing of organic foods.

But he died nearly three years ago. Now his company, Nikken Seil is selling the 22ha it bought north of Oamaru to establish a business park and the sale of the school and surrounding land is expected to follow.

Nikken’s principal shareholder Dr Hirotomo Ochi, who died in October 2005, bought Teschemakers for about $500,000 in 2000, and from that sprang the idea of the business park and the purchase of about 500ha of farmland to produce organic foods for processing.

Dr Ochi was also the principal shareholder in food company Nikken Foods, but since his death the projects – which could have created hundreds of jobs – have languished.

Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay yesterday said the business park land was still “a huge opportunity long term”.

“Nothing has changed, except the possibility of having Japanese enterprises and industries. It’s given us the opportunity for a much-needed industrial area for the town,” he said.

The international college was a big dream and the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the old school buildings, including an historic homestead which was destroyed by fire part way through the restoration, and rebuilt.

 

 The school ought to be worth a lot more than its $500,000 purchase price now the buildings have been restored  – if someone with a new dream can be found to buy it.

 

 Waitaki Mayor  Alex Familton agrees with his predecssor that there is still potential for a business park.

 


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