Regional council race down to two
Just a day after nominations for the vacant Hawke’s Bay regional councillor Hastings seat closed, what was looking to be a three-horse race has come down to just two. Three nominations for the Hastings seat were received from Tom Belford, Jacqueline Taylor and Joe WaldingKaraitiana. However, Friday morning Walding-Karaitiana told Hawke’s Bay Today he no longer intended to pursue his nomination after he received some news overnight. “The process won’t allow me to withdraw from the running, but I’m not going to participate,” he said. Raised in the Hawke’s Bay, Walding-Karaitiana returned to the region in March last year and has been working as Tukituki MP Anna Lorck’s parliamentary support since February. A spokesperson for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council confirmed they had spoken with Walding-Karaitiana and now that his nomination had been received there was no way to formally withdraw. So while his name may remain on the ballot, former regional councillor Belford and Taylor are the pair in the running. Belford, who was among the four highest-polling unsuccessful candidates for the Hastings seat at the 2019 elections, was the only contender to publicly announce his nomination. He hoped voters would endorse the direction the current council has taken, primarily the focus on environmental issues. “The region’s environment and growth challenges are not issues that simply ‘pop up’ on my agenda at election time.” He said he was proud to have spent the past term as a regional councillor, working on a team that has prioritised the council’s primary environmental mission. If voted back on to council, he said he would focus on “getting it right” when it comes to water. “Whether the issue is ecosystem protection and mauri, safe drinking water, swimmable rivers and beaches, water bottling, protecting aquifers and marine fisheries, or water security for growers. “Protecting and enhancing our irreplaceable soils, which should serve as water and carbon sponges, but now erode by millions of tonnes per year into our rivers and ultimately our marine environment, fouling both.” He was also focused on helping food producers create more sustainable long-term value, and make Hawke’s Bay a leading region in New Zealand in terms of responding to climate change. Taylor, who owns and operates Te Mata House, moved to Hawke’s Bay in 2016. Since then, she had noticed significant community and business growth in the region, which has resulted in modifications to the region’s environment. “I want to ensure Hawke’s Bay becomes a wellbalanced and sustainable environment for present and future generations to enjoy.” Nominations for the Hastings constituency closed at noon on Thursday. The postal vote will take place from August 19 until noon on September 10.