Your Regional Council candidates

All the candidates for the 2019 Wellington Regional Council were asked to attend a Grey Power public meeting, and to also provide 300 words about their candidacy. Here they are, in order of submission:

John Klaphake

I believe the great majority of us have lost confidence in our Regional Council over the implementation of the new bus network, and I want to restore confidence back into our Council and public transport by fixing our network to ensure it is centred upon the needs of commuters.

Our bus network can be fixed and be made commuter focused:

  • We work collaboratively with WCC.
  • We ensure there is a clear understanding of exactly what has to be fixed.
  • We collaborate with all parties in developing the solution.
  • Consulting with local communities prior to the implementation of any change.
  • Making changes in a deliberative manner so we don’t end up with the same or larger problems.
  • Working with haste to resolve the issues.
  • Ensuring Bus Stops and Hubs are where the people are.

I am a firm believer in democracy at the local level and want to see the decisions our Council makes informed by the views and opinions of our Community. Decisions must be made on the basis of fact and reason. If our City and Region is to thrive we need to ensure our Council is Transparent, it genuinely Consults and Collaborates.

I am a Wellingtonian, and have lived most of my life in this City. I am a volunteer rural fire fighter and a member of the Wellington Emergency Response Team. I love Wellington and want to see it thrive and prosper, but that will only happen with a solid infrastructure, including a public transport system that is robust, reliable and affordable.

Will you give me your number 1 preference, so I can work with others to deliver a Wellington that we can be proud of for now and future generations.

Helene Ritchie

Kia ora.
I will be a strong, experienced, effective, and proactive, voice for you, the
Wellington public, focusing on returning a reliable bus service; future mass
transport; climate crisis action; our environment.

Public transport is pivotal to our personal, social, economic, cultural and
environmental wellbeing.

As Wellington’s first female deputy mayor, Council Labour Leader, and the
longest serving City Councillor, I stand on my record of, successfully leading, and
serving the public, on over 21 diverse boards, including multiple transport
boards and committees.

Instrumental in declaring Wellington a nuclear weapon free zone, recently, I
successfully drove the Citywide legislation to protect the City’s lungs- our Town
Belt, as Wellington’s natural environment leader. Today, as former Chair of the
Civic Centre project, I’m pursuing the opening of the City’s library, and heritage
protection of this our heart of Wellington.

Outspoken, collaborative and effective, I will do my best, with your vote.

Daran Ponter

NZ Labour Party

My number one priority is fixing Wellington’s buses – more services, no cancellations, and buses going to where you need to be. Our hard-working bus drivers also deserve better wages.

I will continue my mission to remove bus hubs – so that Wellingtonians can make their bus journeys without having to transfer. I will work with the City Council to get better bus shelters in place.

I am committed to improving the public transport experience, lowering fares, and making quicker progress on a 100% electric bus fleet. This includes giving Gold Card users better opportunities to use their cards.

I will ensure the regional council works closely with the city council and Government to deliver ‘Let’s Get Wellington Moving’ – the transformational transport package for our region. This has been languishing far too long – too much talking – not enough action.

Climate change, water quality and resilience must be higher priorities. The Council has committed to carbon reduction targets – now we need a solid action plan to get us there.

Regional economic development needs to be reassessed to focus on a better quality of life for every Wellingtonian.

I have a track record in standing up for Wellington, problem solving, and bringing people together to get the job done.

I am a public servant, married with two University-age children and a dog, named Alaska.

Yvonne Legarth

Thank you for your kind invitation to attend your meeting of the candidates standing for election; and the opportunity to meet your members. My apologies, unfortunately I am unable to attend, and I appreciate this opportunity to provide this short statement.

I have lived in Wellington for more than 25 years, and in that time I have developed a career in policy development and planning. During my career I have helped people to engage with the local councils, and in some cases helped them to be heard in council meetings and the Courts.

I am a supporter of council projects that look after our fresh and coastal water, restore our green spaces, help us to build strong communities, and improve our environment. I will support community pest control and restoration projects, and our regional parks.

I value the ability to walk safely around our city, and to use public transport and other options for getting around.

Good governance is important. I want to ensure that people have access to public information and are told about things happening in their neighbourhoods that affect them. I want the council’s policies and strategies to consider the needs of the diverse community we live in.

Troy Mihaka

As a member of the Wellington Party, I believe that the time is right for a new voice in Wellington politics. A voice with a competent plan for the future, an understanding that ratepayers money needs to be spent wisely, and a determination to ensure Wellington remains one of the world’s best cities and regions to live.

Communication between our Councils has been lacking, as has engagement with our communities. This has led to strong community frustration with the current Mayor, City Council and Regional Council in recent years.

I will foster communication between our councils and our communities, by working closely with community agencies throughout our city. I have a background in community organisation management which I plan to utilise at the Council Table.

Wellington’s Housing market is becoming inaccessible. As the cost of Rates continues to skyrocket, it leaves both our older and younger generations with less access to housing in the city that they all love. Rental prices in Wellington are continuing to rise, becoming too high for pensioners and students alike.

Our Public Transport system has also been damaged by lack of community consideration. This has left communities without direct access to the Public Hospital, or efficient transit services.

Whether it means visiting family across town, shopping at the local supermarket or heading to the central city. A working public transport system should be able to make areas in our city accessible, and take you to the places you want.

Wellington is home to people from all different backgrounds. As a young man of both Māori and LGBT+ backgrounds, the Wellington I engage with is different to the city reached by our current representatives. To deliver for all Wellingtonians, our council must represent all Wellingtonians.

For more info visit https://thewellingtonparty/troy-mihaka

Anand Kochunny

Kia ora! I’m Anand Kochunny, the only GWRC candidate whose platform is changing the culture at our regional council. Why? Because the regional council doesn’t appear to listen to us and deliver what we require. Therefore, my first principal objective as a Councillor would be to change the culture at our council so that it becomes a truly Consultative, Collaborative, Transparent, Accountable and Responsible organisation ― these are my 5 Values for a Representative Democracy.

My second principal objective would be to mitigate the hardships faced by commuters as a result of the changes wrought to the public bus transport system in Wellington since July 2018. To progress this work, I would seek advice from various stakeholders including bus drivers, passengers, GWRC officials, transport advocacy groups and councillors from the Wellington City Council.

My third principal objective would be increase efforts to help communities build resilience to natural disasters and emergencies. The fault lines running beneath Wellington’s CBD should serve as a constant reminder that we’re living on the edge. We’ve dodged a bullet twice, with Christchurch and Kaikoura taking the hits; we cannot afford to become complacent and under-prepared.

So why am I standing now? Because we Wellingtonians have stoically endured hardships caused by ill-conceived changes to our public bus transport system for more than a year now ― changes that have disrupted our lives and caused endless frustration. We cannot let such an avoidable crisis occur again.

If you would like to use your vote to change the way our council functions, please visit my website at to learn more about my views. I need your support to change the culture at our council so that it works for us ― for all of us. A vote for me is a vote for a more responsive council.

Thomas Nash

Tena koutou katoa

My name is Thomas Nash and I’ve spent over a decade working as a humanitarian campaigner around the world. I led the global campaign to ban cluster bombs and was a leading strategist in the campaign to make nuclear weapons illegal.

Like you, I know how special it is to call Wellington home.

But we actually need to get serious about change if we want a region we can all enjoy – now and into the future.

I’ve chosen to run for Regional Council because it plays such a pivotal role in shaping our environment and because it urgently needs culture change and new ideas.

The bus fiasco has shown how out of touch the council is.

So fixing the buses has to be our priority.

I stand for:

  • fair pay and conditions for bus drivers – to address the driver shortage that is causing delays and cancellations.
  • fewer, better hubs so we are not waiting in the cold and wet
  • bus priority so it’s worth getting the bus and
  • a $6 express service between the city and the airport.

Fixing our buses is the priority, but there’s a lot more that needs to change.

I want to see:

  • climate at the heart of all our decisions
  • native forests flourishing all around the region
  • streams, rivers and wetlands full of life
  • aquifers protected from water bottling
  • and a blue belt around our coast to restore marine life.

In all of this, I’ll work with mana whenua as a genuine treaty partner.

I’m used to taking on challenges that people say are impossible and building support to make them happen anyway.

If you’re serious about change like me, then I’m asking you to give me your first preference for Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Thank you

Sam Somers

I am Sam Somers & I am standing for Greater Wellington Regional Council. My objective is to shift the council from 3 year project focuses to focussing on long term planning. In my case that focus would be on public transport and smart transport solutions rather than short term sticky plaster fixes especially when it comes to our roading projects.

I am a big supporter of Light Rail, because of its capacity to pull more per people over buses & private motor vehicles between point A & point B, along with giving those members of our disabled community a seat where as overloaded buses cause disabled people, especially those in wheelchairs are left behind. An immediate solution to hubbing is bringing in more routes that have point to point service and having routes that don’t need to go through the golden mile, particularly by having the east-west routes to look at an alternative using Newtown & Ghuznee Street as well as the bus tunnel and the golden mile. I also want to introduce free weekend public transport between zones 1 & 3 to combat CBD weekend traffic congestion.

I also want to help with the energy poverty crisis we have and climate change by bringing in the renewable energy scheme, where you can add Solar Panels, Wind Turbines or Solar Hot Water system onto the property of a house, to help bring down the energy costs, and take advantage of the way the accommodation supplement works, where they will help towards rates, but not towards the power account. My goal is 4,400 home & 100 farms signing up to the scheme every year for 10 years.

Thank you for reading and I would like you to give me, Sam Somers, your first preference vote, for Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Roger Blakeley

I am a current Councillor for Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC).

I stand for action to resolve outstanding problems from the Bus Network Review of July 2018: fewer hubs, more direct services into the CBD and fair wages and conditions for bus drivers. I will call for faster action by Let’s Get Wellington Moving on all transport modes: walking, cycling, light rail, trains, buses and cars.

I stand for affordable public transport including extending the SuperGold Card for over 65s to free off-peak travel for Community Services Card holders, and fully integrated ticketing for buses, trains and ferries.

I stand for the Wellington City-Region to qualify as a World Health Organisation ‘Global Age-Friendly City’, with GWRC’s contribution including: reliable, frequent and affordable public transport, with specialised provisions for safety and comfort of people who are frail or have disabilities; our regional parks and forests include walkways and seating that are well maintained and safe, and some are suitable for wheelchairs; a wide variety of activities is offered to appeal to older persons including voluntary contribution to environmental programmes with compensation for personal costs; and older people are regularly consulted by Council on how to serve them better.

I stand for action on the Climate Emergency, and a zero-carbon regional council by 2030. I will be a powerful advocate for the environment: safe drinking water, clean streams, rivers and beaches, and protecting native species.

I stand for action to cope with disasters: supporting a cross-harbour pipeline for secure water supply, building flood protection, planning for rising sea levels, and preparing for and recovering from earthquakes.

I am an engineer and former Chief Executive of: Ministry for the Environment, Department of Internal Affairs and Porirua City Council; and Chief Planning Officer of Auckland Council. I am a Member of Institute of Directors.

Tony De Lorenzo

Wellington needs better public transport. I want GWRC provide a service that looks after the customer and is seen by businesses as an incentive to invest in Wellington. A system that is not constrained by central government but one that listens to its users and is able to quickly adapt when it is needed, rather than wholesale changes every 10 years.

The tender model that is currently in place does not give enough emphasis on the customer and instead looks at cost as the biggest driver.

Consultation on this does not end with public transport users. We need to talk and work with employers, businesses, bars, restaurants as beneficiaries of public transport. This way some of the economic benefits can be put back into the service.

We live on a fault line. This means stunning beauty tempered with risks. Abundant water as well as the risk of flooding. I want better resilience in water supply, flood protection, transport, and power, to ensure we can cope in an emergency or from the effects of climate change.

I know that these actions come with a cost, but as their benefits are inter-generational there is the ability to spread this cost over a long period so that the current ratepayers do not have to pay the entire amount.

To effectively achieve this we need a plan. Not a 3 year or 5 year plan but a 50 to 100 year plan. And we need to start now.

These initiatives are needed to make Wellington a greater place to live, and ensure it remains for future generations. .

My work history is one of making institutional change with financial responsibility. Excellent outcomes for stakeholders with a strong financial responsibility make me an ideal candidate

Tony De Lorenzo for a Greater Wellington.

Gavin Bruce

I am standing because there is the need for a rural urban link as there are approximately 12000 hectares of rural land in the Wgtn area alone.

GWRC has quite an involvement with rural areas and imposes a considerable amount of legislation that we need to comply with.


  • Sustainable environmental management, particularly in the planting of natives on the barbary and gorse covered hills.
  • Predator eradication and the Capital Kiwi initiative.
  • Enhanced water quality particularly the harbours.
  • More bus lanes and improved wages and work conditions for drivers.
  • The creation of a realistic public transport strategy which may be light rail, trams, overhead trains fast route buses.
  • A regional council that wants to work with other city councils to achieve the needs of the area, if they were more visible and accountable

It would benefit us all as ratepayers.

Lesleigh Salinger

I’m a proud born and raised Wellingtonian who believes passionately in the importance of well-run networks in underpinning quality of life. As an experienced leader and communicator I established and for six years chaired Karori Residents Association. During that time I have worked with City and Regional Councils to bring about some amazing change which includes cleaning the region’s streams.

Vote for me and I will Advocate for:

  • Sustainable long-term planning in light of climate change
  • The establishment a regional Unitary Transport Authority; with-
    • the Creation of an integrated ticketing scheme.
    • Improvement in real-time information for the buses
    • Introduction of a new airport flyer and efficient electric buses
  • A new regional park in the south-west, Cape Terawhiti with major growth in leisure amenities
  • Continue the Wellington Water model for fresher water, cleaner streams, and better waste and stormwater networks including upgrading aging infrastructure.

Consultation, accountability and action are crucial if the greater Wellington region is to thrive environmentally, economically and socially. I have the skills to make it happen.

Want things done? Vote for me with a 1.

Thank you.


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