Changes to the Northland Regional Council

A growing number of us are aware that “business as usual” just isn’t good enough anymore. Those who privilege economic priorities over social and environmental concerns are yesterday’s men.

Its hard to determine who to vote for in local body elections. Several NRC candidates make generic statements about growing the economy and enhancing the environment. These statements sound good, but it is hard to find clues about how they might do this.


New NRC Councillors, Jocelyn Yoeman, Rick Stolwerk, Justin Blaikie, Penny Smart, Mike Finlayson (Images from the NRC website)

Five new councillors have been elected. Four of these five demonstrate clear commitment to sustainability or environmental restoration. I don’t have sufficient information about Jocelyn Yoeman yet to make a call, but there is clear evidence for the others. Here are some extracts from their candidate information. I have also spoken with three of them ,confirming what is written here.

Mike Finlayson

“We need to work together to ensure: Rates increases are kept to a bare minimum, if any; More jobs are created, especially protecting our environment, by complimenting council funds with outside sources; Development is environmentally sustainable; Northland remains GE Free; Council decisions are made locally, not in Wellington”.

Penny Smart

“…A firm believer in the four pillars of sustainability: environmental, cultural, social and financial; Committed to positive progress for our two greatest assets; the people and the environment; Passionate about Northland’s potential, yet practical and solution driven toward our challenges…”

Rick Stolwerk

“I am passionate about our Northland environment, protecting it as well as encouraging sustainable economic development in the region. I believe in healthy communities, which support one another and I understand the pressures on the environment and on people. Environmental, economic and community integration is vital.”

Justin Blaikie

…having environmental policies that protect and enhance the regions natural resources, particularly water quality, soil quality and the coastal/marine environment; and maintaining and enhancing a stable and diverse economic platform, that can provide for the wellbeing of Northland’s culturally diverse population.”

Jocelyn Yoeman calls for balanced decision-making.

“I believe we need to strike a balance between protection and use of our natural resources and elect decision-makers who will listen to all points of view before making rules that affect us all.”

Of the other four incumbents, David Sinclair has a strong commitment to Seacleaners and cleaning Northlands foreshores of litter.

By the time the next local body election comes around in 2019, Local Food Northland will be ready to pose a series of questions to identify where candidates stand on issues related to moving to more sustainable food systems.

This election featured a number of close calls. Justin Blaikie trailed Joe Carr by two votes in Hokianga-Kaikohe, but took top spot when results were finalised. The Hamilton Mayor had a narrow 9 vote lead over his closest opponent. This demonstrates how important it is to engage in our democratic processes.



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