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Candidates battle down south

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Ratepayers packed out the Anglican Church Hall in Martinborough on Thursday night to meet the people vying for the South Wairarapa mayoralty, hopeful South Wairarapa District Council candidates for the Martinborough Ward, and those wishing to be the regions sole representative on the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The following is a brief outline of the candidates presentations to the audience.

This edition includes the mayoral aspirants and those contending for a seat on GWRC.

Monday’s Wairarapa Times-Age will feature the Martinborough Ward hopefuls.

The meeting was organised by the Martinborough Lions.




Sue Fox

With 30 years’ experience as a lawyer, and having worked in local government for almost a decade, Fox has the negotiation skills required to do the job.

She is one of the founding members of the Featherston Ratepayers and Residents Association and for the past six years has been designing policies and regulation within central government.

If elected, Fox would undertake a “systematic review of council’s policies and on-going projects” and create a council “truly in touch with its communities”.


Liz Mellish

With Maori heritage, Mellish is “unique” and would bring to the council “fresh thinking”.

She said “children would be a heart of any decision making” and strong relationships would be built between the three South Wairarapa towns and rural hinterland.

Mellish has a business background and for the last 20 years has run a consultancy which has advised councils within the greater Wellington region, pacifically around natural resources.

She is an accredited hearing commissioner, with experience in commercial property development.


Viv Napier

As South Wairarapa’s deputy mayor for the past 12 years, Napier is “already familiar with all the issues”.

Under her leadership, rate increases would be “modest and predictable” and focus would be on economic and tourist growth, rural needs, iwi and communication.

She hopes amalgamation Wairarapa councils will give the region more ability to control its affairs, and with it she aims to achieve for the district better service levels, new opportunities realised, overall costs reduced “and more control of our density”.


Graham Higginson

Born and bred in South Wairarapa, Higginson is completely against amalgamation of the region’s three district councils, saying based on population Carterton and South Wairarapa “will be bullishly taken over by Masterton”.

He said individual shires were more prudent with their ratepayer’s money.

As mayor, Higginson would “stand up” for ratepayers and eradicate the “fear” among the community, in which people were too afraid to speak their minds.

He said he would also be able to make difficult decisions.


John Hayes

A former member of parliament for nine years, John Hayes has worked with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as an economist with the Ministry of Agriculture.

He has been an ambassador and a high commissioner around the world.

Hayes is against GWRC’s Waiohine Floodplain Managment Plan, saying its price tag is too high. If elected, rates “won’t go up beyond the rate of inflation” and SWDC’s swimming pools will be free.

As mayor, Hayes will get rid of the mayoral car.



Greater Wellington Regional Council


Linton McGill

For some time McGill wrote possum control programmes for the Wairarapa region.

As a trout fisherman, he is passionate about protecting waterways and remembers 40 years ago when the Ruamahanga River was “the finest lowland river in New Zealand”.

He said the river flow would continue to decrease and it was at risk of toxic algae growth “which has killed at least 50 dogs and two horses” that McGill knows of.

He studied zoology and is against the Wairarapa Water Use Project.


David Holmes

As a Masterton District Council representative for a 15-year total, Holmes holds interests in erosion, conservation, and water and river management.

He led a planting programme for 18 years following the 1977 “winter from hell”, which has had “staggering results” and led to an environmental award.

Holmes supports amalgamation of councils, has been involved in many organisations, and has been an advocate for positive change over effluent disposal for Masterton.

If elected, he would push to improve Wairarapa’s rail services.


Adrienne Staples

Twelve years as South Wairarapa Mayor has given Staples a “good idea at what makes Wairarapa tick”.

She was elected by mayors of the greater Wellington region to represent them on the National Council of Local Government New Zealand, which has given Staples “an extensive contact of colleagues of local government”.

She would “ensure a Wairarapa lens is cast over all regional council’s decision making” and access to safe, reliable public transport.

She stands for healthy rivers and a thriving rural economy.


Andrew Wright

Wright has a background in farming and running an orchard.

He was an elected member of the Wairarapa Catchment Board.

If elected, he would work to build robust relationships with other GWRC members and communicate to them strongly the issues that affect Wairarapa.

He would advocate for decisions that affect the region to be made at Chapel St, Masterton, and not in Wellington.

Wright supports the Irrigation Scheme and would change GWRC’s culture which “has become out of touch with Wairarapa people”.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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