Kapiti is a constituent member of the Greater Wellington Regional Council and although it doesn’t receive as much attention as the KCDC does, it is nevertheless important as among other things it is responsible for all public transport, it runs certain parks, including the Queen Elizabeth Park between Paekakariki and Raumati, and looks after the Otaki and Waikanae rivers.
As readers know, the holder of the Kapiti seat on the GWRC between 2007 and 2016 was Nigel Wilson; since then it has been held by Penny Gaylor who is facing a strong challenge from Paraparaumu resident Neil MacKay. We had a long chat with him on Tuesday.
Neil was born in Pahiatua on the other side of the Tararua Range. As the surname suggests he is of Scottish descent and has lived in Glasgow, although the family’s origin is much further north of there.
He has lived on the Kapiti Coast with his family for over 30 years. In that time he has worked as Chief Executive of Industry NZ (the Central Government Economic Development Agency), and locally as Chair of Electra Ltd (electricity lines and assets), other chief executive roles in industries including transport, water security and new technology companies, and Chair of the Kapiti Aquatic Centre Trust. It was a disappointment for him that a second pool was not built to Olympic size, along with the 25-metre pool (half the Olympic length.) However, the 25 metre pool has the feature of an adjustable floor level for different uses.
On GWRC issues, Neil says that the problems with Bus Routing and Timetable changes that have plagued Wellington City need to be sorted promptly. The existing bus drivers were not consulted about the changes and now there are major problems with staff shortages which have seen frequent service cancellations.
He likes the proposal we have repeatedly made since 2015 for a mix of bus shelters of the stock design and some creative/artistic designed ones to have a positive impact on our streets and neighbourhoods.
In regard to the highly controversial 1080 poison he prefers growth and development of the trapping industry. “There are too many risks and unintended consequences using 1080.”
He established Greenchip, a small business that has involvement with new technologies including metal and ceramic injection moulding of various products, the development of waste-to-value streams technology… the enterprise has been conducting trials using a pilot plant taking fowl manure and dairy effluent, producing methane for heating and cooling on site, liquor and digestate (manure) for potting mix and fertiliser, using on site or to be sold. The business is still working on the economics and also has an interest in water security — monitoring the quality and waste water treatment.
If successful in the election, Neil says he will remain a board member, but not have day to day involvement.
On the vexatious topic of Rates increases with no improved services, Neil says any talk of a 15% hike for Kapiti people is completely unacceptable.
“The fact is Kapiti is already getting slugged by regional rates. Aside from the Wairarapa, Kapiti has been hit with the highest average regional rate increase this year and also the highest rate increase for businesses at 10.3%. There has not been anywhere near enough regional spending in the last three years to justify that increase and we have been poorly represented.
“The public of Kapiti have been telling me they want more advocacy and more transparency and if elected I will bring both of those to the regional table.
“I’m not a fan of leaks that aren’t backed by facts and speculation can be dangerous. However, this shows a failure of the governance process and political transparency is essential,” he says.
One of the major reasons for his candidacy has been the frequently voiced complaint that since 2016, the incumbent Penny Gaylor has little to show from her 3 year term, and rarely appears at council or community board meetings in contrast to Nigel Wilson who made a point of doing this.
Neil says that at a meet the candidates event, a member of the public specifically asked Penny Gaylor whether the disastrous Bus Network revamp would cost Kapiti Coast ratepayers money. “The audience was assured the fiasco would not cost KCDC ratepayers money to fix. This was clearly misleading at best and we deserve better.”
He wants improved train services also, and needless to say is a strong supporter of extending electric commuter trains (not hybrid electric-diesel ones that have been mentioned) north of Waikanae at least to Otaki.