Fresh faces very likely in Ahuriri politics

A fresh look for Ahuriri politics is all but assured, as four seats in the expanded Ahuriri ward are up for grabs in local elections.

Waitaki District Council representative Cr Craig Dawson confirmed last year he would not stand for re-election.

Now three more elected officials have confirmed their tenures would be coming to an end: long-serving Ahuriri community board chairman Graham Sullivan, of Otematata; three-term board member Calum Reid, of Kurow; and one-term board member Tony Chapman, of Omarama, have all said they will not be seeking re-election in October.

Board members Brent Cowles and Vicky Munro were the only two Ahuriri community board members to indicate they would stand again.

Mr Sullivan said after 12 years as a board member, including the past six as chairman, he was keen for "a bit of spare time now".

The development of the Otematata Lakes Centre, the Otematata wetlands, and right through the Waitaki Valley from Kurow to Ohau would remain highlights of his political career.

But Mr Sullivan (81), who retired at 66 and was 70 years old when he put his hand up for the community board, said he would remain active in the community - and continue to play bowls and golf - but wanted others to have a go at local decision-making.

Mrs Munro, who was first elected in a 2013 by-election, said Mr Sullivan was not the type of elected official who viewed his job as a popularity contest, and would be "sorely missed".

The outgoing chairman did a lot of work behind the scenes, and once he took up an issue for a community "he'd just keep going until it was resolved".

Mr Sullivan downplayed his individual contributions when speaking to the Otago Daily Times.

"You've got to get on with the staff at the council and you've got to get on and be an ambassador for the people - you've got to go out to the people and try to do what they want. It's not an easy job on the board, it's a lot of work," he said.

"It's been a team effort. You can't work without a good team.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope to be around for a little while yet."

Mr Reid said Kurow was a passionate community and there were some there who could put their hands up to continue to advocate for the town.

"In any town there's always people who will criticise and say we should do this and do that, but there's only a few who will put their hand up and ... find out what can actually be done, and that's the challenge," Mr Reid said.

"We've got to think big, we've got to think globally, because you can't just think about the 300 people who live in each town, you've got to think about the multitudes of people who turn up in the summer. You've got to make sure the services can handle it.

"One of the problems we've got up the Ahuriri, it always appears to everyone that the council at times doesn't put enough focus on the valley. And the only way they do get focus is the Ahuriri community board giving a voice to the community."

Last year, the Ahuriri ward expanded to include the Waitaki Valley community of Duntroon.

A sitting Queenstown Lakes District councillor, Ross McRobie, has also indicated he is seeking a seat on the council to represent the Ahuriri ward. 

The Waihemo community board is set to lose 57 years' experience as two long-serving politicians stand down.

Chairwoman Kathy Dennison decided to stand down after first being elected to public office in 1998. The long-time Waitaki district councillor, then board member, said she wanted time to focus on herself.

Her deputy chairman Ken Brown, who served on the community board since its creation 30 years ago, also said he would not seek re-election.

Board members Carol Watson, Heather McGregor and Paul Roy all said they planned to seek re-election.


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