Maori Community Candidate Khan Ngarotata-Hansen speaks at a Meet The Candidate event in Feilding as opponent Bridget Bell (left) looks on.
Two young candidates are vying to represent the Māori community in Manawatū in the next municipal elections.
Bridget Bell and Khan Ngarotata-Hansen, both in their 20s, want to ensure that whānau, hapū, iwi and marae perspectives and aspirations are incorporated into local decision-making.
Bell and Ngarotata-Hansen emphasized the need to strengthen the district’s ailing water infrastructure, address environmental challenges, and ensure safety and well-being.
Bell said she will focus on securing good water infrastructure.
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“Flooding is a big problem for us. It is not new to Māori.
“We need to have a clear discussion about what Three Waters means to us and how that would affect the Council’s decisions on preventing flooding.”
She said her people saw merit in Three Waters.
“I will make sure we have water infrastructure for our whānau [particularly] in the Te Reureu Valley, where 24 out of 26 houses are not connected to any water infrastructure.”
Ngarotata-Hansen said he wants to see the district in good health with reasonable rates and to balance its social environment with inclusion of all ages and different cultures.
“The current climate catastrophes have caused me to reflect on the purpose of the unit and I have fundamental concerns for the survival and well-being of our Tangata Whenua.
“Cultural intelligence and ability require cultural change to enact effective constitutional rights and policies, transformative change in all essential areas of health, stability and well-being.
He said it is important to ensure that infrastructure and associated financing mechanisms allow for growth, renewal and maintenance in housing, buildings, transport, broadband, tourism, three-water and flood control infrastructure.
Bell said she will make sure the plan to build a pyrolysis plant in Feilding goes ahead.
“We can’t have burns in the air. It is not in line with our goal of environmental sustainability.
“[During a consultation process] One of the questions the commission asked us was would we be okay if the [air] discharge was less than 1%? We said no. Our position would not change.
“Western culture quantifies damage and discharge, while Māori reject any type of harm that harms nature. We treat nature as beings.”
Bell called herself “a servant of the people” and said her seat would belong to everyone in all 12 marae, iwi, hapū and the community, particularly those who protested the district council in 2021 calling for a Māori station.
Interestingly, Bell had never used social media platforms before rolling out her campaign for the local elections.
“I never had social media [accounts]. My first time using a Facebook page was to start this [election] Campaign.
“I was always busy in the iwi rooms with things that were important to me, reading, boxing, karate, theater and more.
“I made a conscious decision to read more and watch the news because I don’t want to run out of time.”
Ngarotata-Hansen emphasized the importance of working with young people.
“Learn the art of etiquette and life will take you further than you ever imagined.”