As a council we are successfully lifting our city's reputation. We must continue to invest in city improvements, while sensibly monitoring our debt levels. Our portfolio structure allows us to communicate and listen to your views.

As your representative I am committed to all of these and passionate about cleaner lakes and inner city revitalisation. This includes safer cycling, city art and public-private partnerships with iwi investment.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Musings from the Market

Sunday dawned damp and dull but the market was stunning and exceeded expectations in every way. We appeared to get pretty much everything right except the weather.

Some of the highlights include: 
  • The market was teeming with people at 8.45 am, well before opening time
  • The asparagus sold out before 9.30am
  • The students from Waiariki sold out early. Following requests for Xmas cakes and mince pies, they are already planning for the next Rotorua Farmers Market.
  • The early birds got one of the 300 free orange Rotorua Farmers Market bags (more available next week)
  • The City Guardians manning the cameras said it was the busiest Sunday in the city since March
  • Locals, families from out of town and international tourists all happily tasted and purchased what was on offer
  • Many of the local businesses reported a huge increase in Sunday trading
  • One of the inner city cash machines ran out of money .... we can guess where it went

We had some fabulous feedback including: 
  • I wish we had this in Hamilton. In Auckland
  • This is the best market we have been to in a long time
  • We heard the music from our apartment and can’t believe we have this on our doorstep.  And it’s going to be a regular market...
  • Who do I talk to about having a cart?
If this is what we can do on a stormy Sunday imagine what we can achieve over the rest of the summer.  What a fantastic opening weekend event for the Rotorua Tulip Festival.

Thank you to all of the Rotorua locals who braved the elements, despite the weather forecast and came out in their droves anyway.  Thanks also to all the stallholders who delighted the community with their style and sheer variety of produce. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Why You Should Vote For Me

At a candidate meeting today, hosted by Grey Power I got the chance to speak for three minutes on why people should vote for me in the current Rotorua Local Body Elections.

When I got home, I decided to record it and make it available to a wider group of people who may be interested in hearing my thoughts.  This is very much an amateur recording, but I hope you find it useful.

Thanks for watching.  I'd appreciate your support.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Leaders for the Future

As we approach the elections this year, I’ve been giving thought to what kind of leaders our city needs.

At the recent Local Government Conference in Dunedin, several speakers identified the changing expectations of our citizens, reflecting that change in leadership style is critical. The traditional bureaucratic leadership model is based on a hierarchy bound by process, rules and complexity and it no longer meets our needs.

Bureaucracy is undergoing a massive transformation and it no longer fits our rapidly changing world.  It has become increasingly apparent that bureaucratic leaders are at odds with the desires of their communities and the constantly changing environment we live in.

Citizens are becoming more engaged and seek to actively participate in planning the future of their cities, neighbourhoods and governing bodies.  They see a direct connection with decisions made by local and central government and the degree of happiness they feel in their own lives.

Communities need creative thinkers who value new ideas and who demonstrate a willingness to work collaboratively with a wide range of people and groups. Decision-making is more robust when the community has been involved early and leadership today requires shaking up traditional forms of local decision-making.

There is a new style of leadership emerging to meet these challenges.  It centres on what the public value.

Today’s leaders are able to recognise that public value is measured in a variety of ways.  They recognise that GDP, prudent debt levels and good financial management are not the only indicators of success.

Leaders are needed who are willing to understand the diverse needs of citizens and the aspirations of the community and continually seek more and better ways of working in partnerships.

So back to the elections...

Here are some of the attributes I believe our future leaders need to possess.

Someone who…

  • Has a positive attitude and is equally comfortable either taking the lead or being part of a team.
  • Insists on excellence by leading by example and who can happily share knowledge.
  • Is confident and passionate, consistently motivated and optimistic.
  • Sees opportunities where others see obstacles.
  • Is able to lift their eyes above the potholes and dare to vision a future for the benefit of the whole community.
  • Plans for succession and grows the leadership potential of those around them.
  • Strives to upskill and sees value in professional development and networking opportunities, both within the sector and externally.
  • Considers national and global trends and applies that thinking in a local context.

 I hope this list is helpful as you make your choices in the upcoming elections.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Karen Hunt 2016 Election Statement

I am excited to be standing for re-election in this year’s Rotorua Lakes Council Elections.  I would be grateful of your support.

When I joined the Rotorua District Council in 2007 I had campaigned on several burning issues – Care of the Environment, Art in Public Places, Safe Cycling and Community Safety.  In 2010 I added Sustainable Business Development and in 2013 I also focussed on Balancing the Budget and Our New Inner City.

It’s taken a while, but I have initiated or contributed to major progress in all of these areas over the last nine years.  None of this is about vanity, it’s about listening to what people want.  It’s about observing global trends and adapting them to our own environment.  It begins with keeping up and then taking the lead.

Business Development.

Doing business in Rotorua remains challenging and I applaud the efforts and successes of local businessmen and women.  Rotorua businesses are succeeding, with fewer empty premises, increased employment and significant growth in visitor numbers and GDP.

At a recent meeting organised by the Chamber of Commerce, council candidates were given clear messages: Continue the good work of the current council and for goodness sake work as a team!

Art in Public Places.

Public art is springing up everywhere around the city.  It raises our spirits and adds beauty to our surroundings.  It strongly signals that we are proud of this place and some pieces become tourist attractions in their own right.  Not everybody likes every piece – that’s art.

Our recently compiled Arts Trail map boasts more than 60 pieces to visit and admire.  Most of these works have been funded from existing budgets and philanthropic support from the Rotorua Trust and others.

Balancing the Budget.

Our budget is balanced.  Recent figures confirm a reduction in debt level and an increase of cash-in-hand.  There will always be movement in our rates, especially with large infrastructure projects in our future, but rating levels compare well with other cities our size and I support the need to keep them affordable.

All councils carry debt.  This is important and necessary.  Borrowing allows big projects to be funded over more than one year and allows public amenities to be partly funded by future users, instead of just the current ratepayers.  Our debt level is lower than many NZ cities.

Care of the Environment.

Our environment needs ongoing stewardship which requires a fine balancing act between the absolute requirement for improved lake water with reduced nutrient levels and the understanding of the issues affecting those who make their living off the surrounding land.

For all of my time on the council, I have served on numerous committees working for the improvement of lake water quality.  I have developed a deep understanding of the issues and this knowledge will be important as we begin to grapple with the issues around the redirection of city wastewater out of the forest.  This will be an enormous body of work, which must be completed by 2020.

Our New Inner City.

Remodelling of central city areas is necessary to restore vibrancy and bring us confidently into the 21st Century.  I am pleased to have been involved in the popular Eat Streat development.  While the ongoing City Focus refurbishment may be considered controversial by some, I am confident that next year’s end result will be beautiful, welcoming and continue to honour the rich cultural significance of the meeting of Hinemoa and Tutanekai.

In the future we can look forward to the long awaited redevelopment of our lakefront reserve.  Over the years, I have had the chance to review some very thrilling concepts and ideas for this space.   I’m excited and hopeful that I will have the chance to contribute to the conversation when this project is being undertaken.

Community Safety.

Community safety continues to be an important issue to me and to all city residents.  While this is primarily the responsibility of central government and the police, we have made great strides in this direction locally.

I have encouraged the inclusion of CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles into all work carried out on new and remodelled public places.  Remarkable improvements occur when attention is paid to the detail of sightlines, uncluttered spaces and amenity lighting which remove the dark spaces that can encourage dangerous practices and situations.

City of Cycles.

Back in 2007 I voiced the concept of Rotorua as the City of Cycles and I believe that we are moving inevitably toward this designation.  Our recognition as the premier destination for recreational and competitive mountain biking makes this clear. 

It is only a matter of time till we reach our goal of completing a network of safe cycleways throughout the city.  These will bring riders of all kinds (cycles, mobility scooters, rollerskates) into the city to link up with the already completed inner city pathways.  Look at any successful city in the world – this is happening everywhere.

The Holding Pattern Myth.

If we likened Rotorua to an older person, retired or close to it, we would want our mortgage paid off.  We’d paint the house for the last time and buy our last car.  We’d batten down the hatches and await the inevitable decline.

Rotorua is not a person and this comparison does not work.  The city will never retire and lose its income.  New residents are being drawn by our success and our income is growing.  Clearly we must spend it wisely, but not make the mistake of fearfully retracting into some kind of holding pattern.  Our duty is to continually refresh and reinvent a vibrant city that our successors will be proud to inherit.

While it is common for politicians to claim credit for successful developments and projects, it is never the case that everything stands or falls with just one person.  I believe that I have contributed meaningfully to all of the above areas and more, as a fully functioning member of a team.

If I am re-elected in October, hopefully with your support, I will continue to work both energetically and passionately to build us a better city.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Local Government Awards and why these matter

Every year councils around the country put forward projects to be judged by their peers.  Projects they have been working on, in and with their community.

It’s hardly the Olympics, but it doesn’t get the coverage it deserves.  Why should it get more attention?  Why should you care?

In New Zealand there are 78 local councils, seven regional councils, a few unitary councils and a super city. The business that goes on in these councils rightly reflects current community needs, but must also take note of social and cultural trends that will reshape our communities in the future.

Current needs are fairly simple to understand. Think parks and reserves, dog control, waste recovery, water quality and roading infrastructure. 

Yet it is the social and cultural shifts that will shape the future business of councils. So what are these transformational trends?

This year’s LGA conference themes were:
  • Tomorrows Places: our communities in 2050
  • An international perspective on Tomorrows Places
  • Collaboration and organisation: a regional approach to place making
  • Engaging our communities and telling our stories
  • Customer-centric services and innovative engagement – how community leaders can be intentional about creating a more emotionally engaging place
  • Empowering communities to drive economic growth
  • Resilient towns, cities and regions - creating places for the future
  • Collaborative processes and decision-making – how working together can improve outcomes

Conference speakers stimulated discussion about the wellbeing of people; their desires, their aspirations, their hopes and their dreams.

(Sobering thought: In 2050 I’ll be nearly 90, my children around 60 and someone born today will be 34).

We celebrated community-elected decision makers who coped with the unexpected, faced huge problems in their communities and turned them into opportunities to try something different. 

We heard about the brave souls who stepped into uncharted territory, rife with community resistance and misinformation. These leaders not only survived the experience but also embraced the transformation this initiated in their towns and cities.

The visionary leaders we celebrated are those who bring transformational projects together. These projects reflect a shift in consciousness of their community towards the communities of the future.

People gave examples of transformational projects, of working together and becoming economically independent and resilient.  There were many case histories of communities creating beautiful places, working collaboratively to re-ignite a sense of what it means to belong.

Back to my first statement....

The Local Government Awards and why these matter.

At the 2016 LGNZ conference, Rotorua Lakes Council won the Supreme Award for its Te Arawa Partnership project. This was a team effort and the staff and community are to be congratulated for their courage in supporting this game changing partnership. If it is true that the elected representatives reflect the consciousness of their community, then we are on the right track.

You can read for yourself the criteria we were judged on.  This was a courageous undertaking and I believe that we and our country are the better for it.

Martin Jenkins Judges' Choice Award for Outstanding Value and Service Delivery

Drawn from all finalists, one council will be presented with the Judges' Choice Award in recognition of its outstanding delivery of best practice, value and service to its community.

This award will recognise the increased value, benefit or improvements to the overall well-being of the people within its town, city, district or region, delivered through outstanding community engagement, environment, infrastructure, creative or economic development strategies, projects and initiatives.

This immense recognition truly befits community and the council that I believe in.  This is why the awards matter and why I’m standing for re-election to the Rotorua Lakes Council.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Positive Signs

Had a busy afternoon today erecting my campaign signs for this year's election.  They have around 60 days to work their magic before coming down again on the night before Election Day on 8th October.

Over the coming eight weeks, I'll be preparing statements and comments on topical issues and matters of concern, as requested by various groups and publications.  I'll also post them here for those who may wish to review them.

I'm looking forward to the chance to debate the issues that matter to our community and I'm happy to stand by this council's record of success.  I trust that all candidates will campaign positively and openly.  I wish everyone the best of luck.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Kerbside Recycling: Coming Soon

Regarding recycling, I came across this in my files and while it was a contentious issue to campaign on in 2007  I still believe it is the best way to collect waste with value across the city. 

Care of the Environment
an unspoilt environment will be our legacy …
I support the consideration of kerbside recycling to make recycling easy and to meet the needs of residents who are unable to get to the recycling centre in town. 
Karen Hunt (candidate statement 2007)

I am really pleased that we are now providing for our residents what many other NZ’s take for granted, a kerbside collection for recycling. Rubbish collection at the gate is a long held tradition for convenience and safety. Parts of the waste stream have additional value therefore it is a natural extension to establish a seperate collection for recyclables at the gate. 

We have indeed taken our time to get here. Sometimes a good idea can languish for lack of support, lack of money or lack of political will, and sometimes all three. There is still more value to be had from our ‘rubbish’ with green waste and food waste, however lets just start with plastics, glass, tin and paper.

While we have had to wait many years for kerbside wheelie bins it is now financially prudent to make the move to contracting out the waste collection service. We are one of the few remaining councils using bags and with the introduction of the new health and safety regulations it was inevitable that we would move to a wheelie bin collection and with that the opportunity for kerbside recycling. 

Being late adopters means there is a silver lining, we have seen what works and what doesn’t and working with our rural and lakeside communities we have recognised a different approach is required.  Any major change often has a few teething problems however I am positive that neighbours will help each other and communities generally will benefit from this improved waste collection service.

A lot of people have been waiting for it to start and want it to be a success. I’m looking forward to the roll out of the bins and the start of collections at the end of October.