Meet the council’s new Rural Community Board

Meet the council’s new Rural Community Board

Rotorua Lakes Council’s new Rural Community Board is ready to hit the ground running and is keen to remind councillors there’s life outside the city limits.

Four people were nominated for the four positions on the council’s new Rural Community Board meaning all four have been elected unopposed to their new roles.

They are Bob Martin, Euan McLachlan, Chris Sutton and Shirley Trumper.

Mr Martin, a Paradise Valley-based sheep and cattle farmer who spent almost 11 years on the Rotorua District Council, said his experience would serve the board well.

“When one pays $38,000 a year in rates one wants to know why they keep increasing.

“My biggest concern is the change to rubbish collection in our area and we are not happy at all with roading maintenance that’s not taking place.”

 He said the new board would meet unofficially in the next few weeks before they were officially sworn in after the elections.

“We want to get started right away so we’re ready to remind council there’s a lot more they can do for the rural sector,” Mr Martin said.

Rerewhakaaitu beef farmer Mr Sutton said he saw the board as an opportunity to add value to the existing rural network.

“In the first term I hope to achieve the establishment of a good board and a good foundation so we can be effective from here on in.

“We need to restore the connection with council and that hasn’t happened in the last three years, we think council has been pre-occupied with other projects.

“I’m a great believer in open governance. If we are part of the process we can take ownership of the solution, rather than imposing decisions on people,” Mr Sutton said.

Waikite Valley dairy farmer of 40 years, Mrs Trumper, said rates were also one of her top issues.

“I have seen our rates rise considerably with less and less services being provided.

“The rural voice was diminished when wards were abolished therefore with the introduction of the board I saw it as an opportunity to provide a rural perspective at council.

“We see considerable outgoings on making town vibrant and other expensive pet projects being mooted, but very little for the rural sector.”

She said she wanted to see more money provided for the sealing of roads or delivery of better services.

“Urban dwellers take for granted the many services we rural communities do not receive. Without the rural rates contribution many services would not be able to be provided so all we ask is for council to recognise this.”

Ngongotaha’s Mr McLachlan has spent 25 years managing farms in the Taupo district, experiencing many changes, difficulties and positive moves on the family farm as well as with others.

He’s also had experience with commercial flower growing along with his late father Alistair, a former Taupo County Councillor, and they built the country’s first private geothermal power plant.

“I would like to help the Rotorua community – especially rural and iwi.

“I currently work for Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic as regional and iwi co-ordinator, tutoring agriculture students, mostly in Turangi, but also throughout the Central Plateau.

“My relationship with Te Whare Aronui o Tuwharetoa has been a highlight of my career. They are my whanau along with many in the Turangi community.

“I hope to build similar relationships with Rotorua iwi and the wider rural community.

“I’m sure my lifetime of knowledge will come in handy regarding farming, changing land use, nitrate issues, geothermal energy, water rights, roading needs, farmer welfare and community needs.”