Viv Napier. PHOTO/FILE
South Wairarapa mayor Viv Napier is applying for her job again in this year’s local body elections, in what would be her seventh term on the South Wairarapa District Council.
She says grandchildren growing up in the district “gives me the drive and excitement to continue to contribute to its ongoing development”, despite going through the stress of back-to-back water contamination crises earlier this year.
“Yes, it was stressful and it highlighted for me that incidents can literally happen instantly and you have to be prepared to deal with them.
“I didn’t want to make a decision to stand again whilst in the midst of the crisis.”
Napier will face competition for the mayoral chains from at least one other contender, with Dayle Harwood, who resigned as a Featherston ward councillor in April last year, announcing his intention to stand.
Napier served three terms as deputy mayor before being elected to the top job in 2016, but said there is still work to do, highlighting the potential of council’s spatial plan, which is the subject of public engagement before development of a draft.
“I believe it is probably the most important plan in all my time with the council as it will set the basis for the district to grow and prosper in the next 20 to 30 years.
“It gives our communities the opportunity to discuss and decide on how development should occur, where it should occur and why it should happen.”
Water of different kinds is set to be a focus for the new council, with chlorination on the cards once a manganese removal plant is established, and consultation continuing about irrigation of Featherston’s wastewater.
“Longer term, I think challenges will come out of the spatial planning exercise, probably in regards to funding of initiatives that the community desires.”
Napier points to the opening of the Waihinga Centre as a community hub as a success in the past term, along with such things as changing street lighting to ensure they met Dark Sky requirements and starting wastewater discharge to land in Martinborough and Greytown.
Global issues will need a local focus in future, she says.
Climate change and the predicted sea level rise and what council needs to do to mitigate the impacts will also be a focus.
“We will need to be working closely with our neighbouring councils and GWRC [Greater Wellington Regional Council] and key stakeholders and communities to develop a sustainable plan. And water resilience is a regional issue that will require a collaborative approach with councils, key stakeholders and our communities.”
Ex-Otorohanga mayor eyes Carterton
He may be the new kid in town, but Dale Williams is already looking for ways to contribute after deciding to stand as a councillor for the Carterton District.
The former mayor of Otorohanga moved to Carterton only a few months ago but has been working in the region periodically for close to five years.
He moved to Wellington after his wife got a job in education five years ago. After deciding they’d had enough of city living, they moved to Carterton from where she commuted.
“All my life I’ve lived in communities of about 5000 people or so,” he said. “I’m very much a small-town country boy at heart. Carterton reminded us so much of Otorohanga.”
Williams said he decided to run for council to contribute to his new community.
“I want the community I live in to be the best it can be.”
He has almost 21 years’ experience in local government, having served as an Otorohanga councillor for nine years and then as mayor for another nine – he is also about to complete his term on the Porirua City Council.
Before getting into politics, Williams trained as a motorcycle engineer, opening his first dealership when he was just 23 years old.
Through his business and training up others, he developed a passion for working with young people.
“My passion is helping young people transition from school to work,” he said.
He has helped create youth programmes in Otorohanga, contributed to the Porirua Youth to Work Movement, and been involved with YETE [Youth in Education Training or Employment].
“This day and age with ageing populations, there are issues facing small towns, particularly rural small towns.
“Young people are leaving and not coming back. It’s putting pressures on jobs, and businesses with skills shortages.
“Carterton district has similar issues and challenges as every council. Having said that, it has huge potential for opportunities.”
Williams was aware of debate about rates increases.
“It’s an issue that’s facing every council. It’s about affordability for people who live here.
“The 10 per cent rates increase over the last year took the wind out of a lot of people’s sails and I completely get that.
“But it’s also delivered the wastewater treatment plant, and some really major infrastructure investments have now begun as a result of that.”
The challenge is to provide the best services and facilities for people in an efficient way, he said.