Progressive thinking needed for transition

The Otago Daily Times continues its series of profiles of mayoral candidates. Fifteen people say they should be the next mayor of the various district and city councils in the wider Otago-Southland region.

To help voters make informed decisions in the 2019 elections, we ask candidates who they are, what they stand for and how they would handle the big issues facing their district. Today, Daisy Hudson puts the questions to the Southland district mayoral candidate Tim Hanna.

Tim Hanna
Tim Hanna


Tim Hanna

Age: 66
Occupation: Author and publican
Council experience: None
Describe yourself in three words: Determined, independent, sympathetic


Brought up in Northland, Tim Hanna is running for mayor at the opposite end of the country. The author and publican has lived in Lumsden, in the Southland District, for nearly seven years. He is standing because he thinks the district is in a time of transition, and it needs a change of leadership to match.

Why are you standing for mayor?

I love this place and I think it could be better managed. It's simple. I had to think about it long and hard. Politics is pretty polarised, maybe it always has been, but it feels like it is more so today.

So you've sort of got two approaches, one of which is a maintenance of the status quo, which is what we've got now, and the other is to look at ways to do things differently and actually moving on from where you are, and I consider myself to be among the latter, and I consider the current administration to be among the former.

Will you be a full-time mayor, and why?

Yes. This is important. The mayor's paid pretty well. The mayor gets a decent whack of money. It's not huge by other standards, but to me it's the sort of pay rate that suggests that you really should be full-time and you should be doing extra hours and you should just be doing it well. To earn my pay, you've gotta work hard.

What position do you think the district is in?

Transitional. I think our agriculture is in transition, and there's a heck of a lot happening at the moment, from central government and all the rest of it, in terms of mandated change. I see that being a challenge and an opportunity. In terms of our economy, we have obviously a developing tourism business.

I'd like to think infrastructure around tourism needs to be developed. Without going crazy about it, we need to build our population base. I think to achieve that, particularly with first-home buyers, I'm very keen to explore the idea of small houses and small holdings.

What are the three issues facing the incoming council?

Managing this transitional stuff from the tourism industry, our agriculture, and trying to, particularly assist agriculture to find value-added. Regenerational farming is great step and I'm really happy farmers are embracing that. And going forward from that, to identify ways to maintain profitability, and make farming more sustainable and easier on our environment.

That's going to be really complicated and really full-on, and it's not something you can deal with in five minutes, but at the moment I don't think anyone's doing anything much.

What is the one thing you would like to have achieved by the end of your term?

I think one of the things I've been concerned about is a move towards de-democratising our system. I think, although this may sound a little esoteric, it's getting more people into the conversations that we need to have. And that means not trying to replace local representation with professional, paid bureaucrats.

Because no matter how well intentioned, they don't live here, they don't know, and they don't live with the consequences of what they're saying.

We need to have that democracy, we need to have that participation. If that process is really healthy when I leave, I think that will be a great achievement, and I think it will have led to other great achievements.

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