Carol & Ross Exchange a Couply Emails

Four weeks ago Ross Meurant introduced himself to the Gisborne public with advertisements in the Gisborne Herald carrying the headline “I’ve bin thinking…” in which he announced his intentions to run for the Gisborne Mayoralty.

What follows here is the third in our series of conversations with our mayoral candidates for the upcoming elections. Carol posed the same series of questions to all three with the intention of getting to know a little bit about the people behind the ‘Candidates’. As Ross does not actually live in Gisborne he emailed his responses to Carol’s questions, which Carol had previously put to our other two mayoral candidates Meredith and Rehette over some cups of tea at her place. Ross’s response follows below.

We hope that these conversations have offered up a couple of nuggets of insight, adding to your understanding of who these three people are, how they see the world and their place within it, and what they might have to offer us, their constituents, if they were elected to the role of Mayor of Gisborne.

Carol: Who is the greatest personal influence as you embark on this election campaign

Ross: No one. My own life’s education and experience (mistakes and success) give me the confidence to look to myself.

However, my own philosophy reflects two philosophers: Machiavelli and Jeremy Bentham. Machiavelli insisted that good fortune was the result of hard work (winning lotto the exception). Bentham said that public policy should deliver the greatest good to the greatest number.

I subscribe to both these philosophies.

I have also endeavour to adhere to Edmund Burke, who said: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Carol: Tell me something about yourself that might surprise other people.

Ross: I am a direct descendant of Chief Te Tumi-o-the-range (sp) (Correction: Chief Te Tuhi-o-te-rangi) of Ngatia Mahuta and thereby King Te Whero of Tainui.

Carol: Name one person, dead or alive, that you’d like to walk on the beach and have a korero / conversation with.

Ross: My (deceased) maternal grandmother: Dalice Olsen nee Brady.

P.S. This disclosure denotes Irish and Norwegian pedigree on one side.  The paternal side is French and Maori.

Carol: What is the trait you most dislike in yourself….

Ross: I am advised that I have exceptional drive and zest and sometimes this enthusiasm can be a little daunting for people who have a lower threshold for research & decision making. This is not so much a matter of disliking this trait, but of the need to be mindful of others.

Carol: How do you relax?

Ross: I do the gym three times a week. I play the piano accordion.  I read extensively. I enjoy to ride horse to hounds and will acquire myself a hunter steed should I win the mayoralty.

Carol: Your task is to write the Job Description for Mayor of Gisborne. What are your 3 most important KPIs and how could their delivery be measured?

Provide Leadership in managing the multi-faceted decision-making process of Council and the community inputs that impact on policy decisions by Council.  This includes input from expertise within the bureaucracy and special interest groups.

Improving transport infrastructure is a priority.

– Another air transport provider will see reduced air fares and increased visitors which in turn enhances local business.

– Re-opening rail will provide competitive freight rates for horticulture, farmers and logging. Lower freight rates mean increased revenue for local business which can be applied to expansion which in turn creates more jobs. In turn, this this means more taxation revenue for Central Government which might be spent on health and education. Rail will reduce log truck plunder of the roads, making them safe and which ameliorates increases in rates for maintain and improve the rates. Less tong (sp) haul trucks provides environment benefits.

Promote the region at Central Government level, seeking assistance where appropriate.

I am sure the measure of my performance will be well reported by the local media.

Carol: Young people are becoming more vocal with their concerns about the future impact of climate change. Do you think the council has a role in responding to them? 

Ross: Council has a major role to play in reducing adverse environmental effects. Identifying the most deleterious impacts on the environment: from carbon emissions to endangering bees: from protection of birdlife to sustainable fisheries policy, is a duty and priority. Providing our own effective high-end technology rubbish collection / recycle / recomposite facility, is on my agenda.

Rehette Stoltz over a Cuppa with Carol

Carol: Who is the greatest personal influence as you embark on this election campaign?

Rehette: I don’t have to think twice – its my Mum and Dad. From my Mum, who was a stay-at home Mother of 4 kids and very involved in our community, I learned about hard work. “Whatever you decide to do – do it well or don’t even start.”

And my Dad had the best attitude to life – he used to say “Life can give you a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it!”. He also taught me “bloom where you are planted” – for me this is Gisborne.

Carol: Tell me something about yourself that might surprise other people.

Rehette: I have run four marathons. Whilst I’m not what you’d call handy in the kitchen, I do make a mean cheesecake.  Its ironic that I have ended up living on the other side of the world from my family: as a child I was a real home body and what you’d call clingy.

Carol: Name one person, dead or alive, that you’d like to walk on the beach and have a korero/conversation with.

Rehette:There are 3 people and 3 different conversations. Barrack Obama – I love his humbleness. Nelson Mandela – a unique leader and so gracious despite what he suffered. Dame Whina Cooper – Her wise words “Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear: take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa”  really resonate with me.

Carol: What is the trait you most dislike in yourself?

Rehette: I am a night owl and I always have been. I have tried many times to turn the light out at 10.30, and get up early but it just never works. I end up looking like a corpse and reverting to my old ways.

 Carol:  How do you relax?

Rehette: I love to run – usually with my husband Deon. As a family, we all love to read although I must say with all the reading that comes with being on the council, my pleasure-reading is much less these days. I am equally happy with a quiet time at home or having coffee with girlfriends.

Carol: Young people are becoming more vocal with their concerns about the future impact of climate change. Do you think the council has a role in responding to them?

Rehette: Absolutely – in three areas.

  1. We find ourselves on the one hand, working to reduce the carbon footprint at a local level, and on the other hand contributing to the carbon footprint when we build roads from fossil- based fuel products when we have no sustainable alternative at this time. We must keep talking and learning so a balance is achieved.
  2. Small leadership stuff at an operational level – for example moving to an electric vehicle fleet, ensuring that we are operating our business from insulated buildings.
  3. Planning  – developing a spatial plan around new neighbourhoods avoiding ocean-side developments; futureproofing assets and infrastructure especially against storm damage and; modernising the district plan with a climate change lens.

Carol:  Your task is to write the Job Description for Mayor of Gisborne. What are your 3 most important Key Performance Indicators and how could their delivery be measured?

Rehette:

KPI 1: With the Councillors and residents, set the strategic direction for the region.

Measurement: Feedback from the community via the annual community meetings, via front desk encounters and emails to the council website, and via direct encounters lets us know that residents believe council is doing what they said they would, on time and on budget.

KPI 2: Lead the Council

Measurement: Councillors are clear about the shared/agreed values of the council and the direction being followed. There is positive publicity in the local paper that the job is being well done. Council performance lifts. Councillor performance is excellent.

KPI 3: Advocate for people in our region.

Carol: Who is the greatest personal influence as you embark on this election campaign?

Rehette: I don’t have to think twice – its my Mum and Dad. From my Mum, who was a stay-at home Mother of 4 kids and very involved in our community, I learned about hard work. “Whatever you decide to do – do it well or don’t even start.”

And my Dad had the best attitude to life – he used to say “Life can give you a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it!”. He also taught me “bloom where you are planted” – for me this is Gisborne.

 Carol: Tell me something about yourself that might surprise other people.

Rehette: I have run four marathons. Whilst I’m not what you’d call handy in the kitchen, I do make a mean cheesecake.  Its ironic that I have ended up living on the other side of the world from my family: as a child I was a real home body and what you’d call clingy.

Carol: Name one person, dead or alive, that you’d like to walk on the beach and have a korero/conversation with.

Rehette:There are 3 people and 3 different conversations. Barrack Obama – I love his humbleness. Nelson Mandela – a unique leader and so gracious despite what he suffered. Dame Whina Cooper – Her wise words “Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear: take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa”  really resonate with me.

Carol: What is the trait you most dislike in yourself?

Rehette: I am a night owl and I always have been. I have tried many times to turn the light out at 10.30, and get up early but it just never works. I end up looking like a corpse and reverting to my old ways.

 Carol:  How do you relax?

Rehette: I love to run – usually with my husband Deon. As a family, we all love to read although I must say with all the reading that comes with being on the council, my pleasure-reading is much less these days. I am equally happy with a quiet time at home or having coffee with girlfriends.

Carol: Young people are becoming more vocal with their concerns about the future impact of climate change. Do you think the council has a role in responding to them?

Rehette: Absolutely – in three areas.

  1. We find ourselves on the one hand, working to reduce the carbon footprint at a local level, and on the other hand contributing to the carbon footprint when we build roads from fossil- based fuel products when we have no sustainable alternative at this time. We must keep talking and learning so a balance is achieved.
  2. Small leadership stuff at an operational level – for example moving to an electric vehicle fleet, ensuring that we are operating our business from insulated buildings.
  3. Planning  – developing a spatial plan around new neighbourhoods avoiding ocean-side developments; futureproofing assets and infrastructure especially against storm damage and; modernising the district plan with a climate change lens.

Carol:  Your task is to write the Job Description for Mayor of Gisborne. What are your 3 most important Key Performance Indicators and how could their delivery be measured?

Rehette:

KPI 1: With the Councillors and residents, set the strategic direction for the region.

Measurement: Feedback from the community via the annual community meetings, via front desk encounters and emails to the council website, and via direct encounters lets us know that residents believe council is doing what they said they would, on time and on budget.

KPI 2: Lead the Council

Measurement: Councillors are clear about the shared/agreed values of the council and the direction being followed. There is positive publicity in the local paper that the job is being well done. Council performance lifts. Councillor performance is excellent.

KPI 3: Advocate for people in our region.

Measurement: In regard to matters that are not under direct control of council yet influence progress here (eg the rail) the council voice in advocacy is heard. Feedback from the community is that people are aware of the role council is playing in advocating for us with central government and other external organisations.

Meredith Akuhata-Brown has a Cuppa with Carol

If Meredith Akuhata-Brown was to believe the many people who have told her what she should or shouldn’t be saying, doing or asking over the past six years, she ‘isn’t the kind of person who should be running for Mayor’. Luckily, she doesn’t believe those people – the kind of people who have become all too comfortable in a system that, as we can see (if we let ourselves), hasn’t worked out that well for a very large proportion of our community or for our environment.

That isn’t to say that Meredith doesn’t listen however; to the contrary, she is all about The People. She does the reading, she has the kōrero and she is very good at asking the questions that people don’t necessarily want to hear.

Meredith is famed for her verbosity; a natural storyteller who speaks from her heart. Her responses to Carol’s five questions are to the contrary, remarkably concise. Meredith is quite proud of that fact.

Carol: Who is your greatest personal influence as you embark on this election campaign?

Meredith: My mother, Marewakiterangi (Maria) Waimaria. She was a fighter. Her life, particularly when she was raising her small children, was extremely difficult yet she endured in ways that I have come to admire and to be inspired by.

Carol: Tell me something about yourself that might surprise other people.

Meredith: I have a love for music across a wide spectrum. I was raised on classical music and opera and I love that music to this day. I played cornet in the Salvation Army Band and double bass in the high school orchestra.

Carol: Name one person, dead or alive, who you’d like to walk on the beach and have a korero/conversation with.

Meredith:Princess Te Puia.I am only just beginning to get a handle on how she lived her life and I’m hungry to learn more. Also children. I love to sit down with the kids at Kaiti School and listen to what they’ve got to say, what’s on their minds. Its very grounding for me.

Carol: The trait I most dislike in myself is….

Meredith:Verbosity! I know I sometimes say many more words than I need to before I nail the point of my conversation – I’m working on it.

Carol: How do you relax?

Meredith:Walking, listening to music, reading books. I read a lot. Mostly non-fiction and most likely to be related to social justice issues. On holiday I can binge on criminology which has always fascinated me.

Carol: Young people are becoming more vocal with their concerns about the future impact of climate change. Does the Council have a role in responding to this?

Meredith: Absolutely and definitely. Council has a significant role in their future in relation to natural resources, infrastructure, the kind of community they will raise their families in and grow old in. We MUST engage with them and pay genuine attention to what they are saying.

Carol: Your task is to write the Job Description for Mayor of Gisborne. What are your 3 most important Key Performance Indicators and how could they be measured?

Meredith:

KPI 1. Leading excellent communication to enhance community engagement.

Measurement:
Citizen survey (both paper-based and online) demonstrates that more people understand the role of mayor and council and its relevance to their world.

Increasing voter turnout indicates improved relevance of local government to the citizens we serve.

KPI 2: Ability to Influence through attention to relationships

Measurement:
External – there is evidence of enhanced relationships with central government resulting in optimisation of investment in the region especially in relation to infrastructure development projects such as rail. We need to advocate for contracts to be with local service providers as much as possible.

Inter-regional collaboration, especially with similar- sized councils is evidenced by enhanced learning from successful initiatives of other councils

Internal – We know more about who is in our community through relationships with organisations like the Multicultural Tairawhiti Council, youth groups etc.

We clearly articulate our vision for the region to the extent that everyday citizens are having conversations which reflect that people know what that vision is and what’s going on to achieve it.

KPI 3: Enhanced citizen happiness

Measurement:
Evidence based methodology is used to track and enhance the overall happiness of the people who live here.

Subscribe!

Sign up to receive The Weekly Roundabout for upcoming events, new Gizzy Local content & links to other good stuff to keep you connected in the best possible way.

Kia Ora! Thanks for subscribing :)

X