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Hawke's Bay Regional Council Candidates

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

We asked the Councillor Candidates these questions

  1. The questions for regional council candidates were tweaked to reflect the focus of the Regional Council.

  2. What do you see as the biggest environmental issues facing Hawke's Bay between now and 2030? 

  3. How would you want Hawke's Bay to have responded to these issues between now and 2030?

  4. How will you practically and collaboratively support climate action in the district? 

  5. What are your priorities for the health of our waterways and long-term water sustainability?

  6. What is your position on regenerative farming and growing practices, and the impact they may have on the environment (water quality and quantity, soil health, etc.)?

  7. What are your priorities for transport and how would you go about achieving them?

  8. What are your priorities for energy efficiency and how would you go about achieving them? 

  9. Thinking about current communities and future development in areas at risk (coastal hazards, flooding, etc.) due to the climate crisis, what are your priorities for building resilience?

  10. Have you undertaken training in local government, governance, and/or financial management in the last three years? Would you commit to doing so in the first six months if not?

The following candidates responded:

  Martin Williams

  1. Climate change is the paramount and overriding most pervasive  environmental concern and permeates through each and every other environmental issue we face including threats to biodiversity, our aquifers and rivers, to flooding of rural and urban land, the release of a staggering 7 million tonnes of sediment from our eroding hillslopes as storm events become more frequent and severe, to name but a few.

  2. We are making very significant investments in our flood protection and drainage schemes, through the Right Tree Right Place and erosion control schemes to add resilience to sediment erosion management, and through our regional water assessment and water security programme, all of which will have been substantially progressed by 2030 (and to an ultimate destination of a net zero carbon region in 2050).  In my role as Chair of the Transport Committee I have also been working hard on better public transport solutions to reduce our transport greenhouse gas emission profile as a region, including through introduction of On Demand in Napier and Hastings, considerably more frequent bus routes in our major cities and a bus service from Waipukurau to Hastings, along with greater awareness and investment in active transport infrastructure.

  3. As above, and through championing Hawke’s Bay as a region to pilot a spatial plan; literally the blueprint for a net zero carbon region by 2050, providing for sufficient housing, commercial and industrial land to meet projected future demand clear of our most productive versatile soils,  as well as areas vulnerable to natural hazards (as exacerbated by climate change, i.e. enabling managed or planned retreat in the face of coastal erosion) and integrating urban intensification with public transport and other transport infrastructure.

  4. Next term we will introduce the Kotahi Plan being a comprehensive all resource regulatory and policy response prepared in partnership with mana whenua, centred around climate change, biodiversity and water with the ultimate destination (as to water) being to promote Te Mana o te Wai (literally, putting the water first).

  5. Regenerative farming and growing practices are simple common sense and applied by farmers more generally than thought.  The Regional Council is backing the Future Farming Trust and integrating regenerative farming into its Right Tree Right Place investment scheme in partnership with the Nature Conservancy.  There are co-benefits for both water quality management and climate change involved i.e. wins on both fronts through regenerative farming practices being applied.

  6. As above

  7. As above, along with the Council’s ‘sustainable homes’ loan scheme which continues to be fully subscribed.

  8. As above (spatial planning and resilience to climate change). Taking the lead on implementation of the Clifton to Tangoio 2021 strategy, as resolved by Council on 31 August.

  9. I  hold Chair certification under the Ministry for the Environment Making Good Decisions programme and am currently Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Hearings Committee.  I have 25 years experience as a specialist resource management and environmental law practitioner.


  Craig Foss

  1. All things water and lack of effective action to begin to address the problems, a lack of commitments to and measurable actions to begin to fix our waterways, a sad acceptance by many that such pollution of our waterways is “normal”. That is totally unacceptable to me. Government local government reform – There is so much reform taking place, with uncertain outcomes that councils are increasing distracted from their core roles.

  2. A pragmatic prioritization and refocus on our council’s core roles. Focus on the issues where we can make direct, measurable impact. Have solid commitments and measurable actions to begin to fix our waterways. This is the only way to gain, build and ensure our social license as environmental regulators and champions.

  3. I have had enough of the endless talk; it is time to act. Long term, medium term and short-term targets that can be used to hold councils to account. I have and will continue to press for HBRC to be the lead player for all the Hawke’s Bay councils’ carbon neutral aspirations. HBRC is carbon positive and I will continue to push for HBRC to lead all Hawke’s Bay councils to be carbon neutral asap.

  4. I will continue to relentlessly drive for cleaner, safer urban waterways. I am appalled at the state of our urban waterways. Rural water gets most of the attention, yet our most polluted waterways are right in front of us. It is simply unacceptable that kids cannot safely play in and around Te Karamū. We need much more urban pollution and water quality monitoring sites producing data available in real or near real time. Long term, medium term and short-term water quality targets that can be used to councils hold to account. Sustainable is obtainable!

  5. I really don’t understand much of the fuss in this space. I think more leadership and public demonstration is needed. Regardless of what it is called, if a farmer can save water use, lessen run off, enrich soil capacity then why on earth would they not do that? There is nothing like the huge increase in fertilizer prices to focus farmers minds on more effective and efficient use of farm inputs and outputs. I am a huge fan of the Ballance Farm awards that celebrate environmentally and financially sustainable farms.

  6. I will continue to push for so much more off-road cycleways, joining up our existing networks.

  7. At home we are totally “solar-ed up”, double glazed and have a wood burner with wetback for heating. All councils already promote solar, gray water systems, double glazing and native planting. They should apply to their own buildings.

  8. We should do what we can regionally to become more sustainable and have less negative environmental impact, while acknowledging that many people are quite happy to live near the coast, knowing the danger and financial risk to them of sea level rise. I cannot understand how new subdivisions are being encouraged at or below sea level by councils who at the same time warn about sea level rise impacts from climate change! That will end in tears.

  9. I have been working in financial and governance roles at the highest level for most of my working life. However, everyday there is more to learn. To me, Integrity, honesty, respect, and trust are the basis of good relationships and therefore good governance.


  Xan Harding

  1. Responding to climate change and transitioning to new water quality & quantity limits to be set across the region by December 2024 in the new Kotahi Plan, giving effect to the National Policy Statement-Freshwater Management 2020 and the new ‘fundamental concept’ Te Mana o Te Wai.

  2. Having adopted a new regional pan-Council climate resilience strategy & plan by December 2024 to integrate with the Kotahi Plan. Be solidly on the path to Net Zero 2050 and to have exceeded our region’s share of the interim national 2030 reduction targets, whilst avoiding loss of productive Class 1-6 farmland under P. radiata permanent forestry. Be well on the way in the transition to the new Kotahi water quality and quantity limits, with a thriving community and resilient economy.

  3. By driving development of a new regional pan-Council climate resilience strategy & plan in the first 2 years of my term. By actively supporting the great work of the HB Future Farming Trust in researching, demonstrating and promoting regenerative agriculture.By continuing to model my personal climate action – cycling, EV, solar generation, regenerative viticulture.

  4. My overriding priority is to see the successful implementation of the Kotahi Plan, setting ambitious but achievable new limits for water quality and quantity for all water bodies across Hawke’s Bay by December 2024. We need a rebalancing from an extractive approach to one founded on long term ecological health. But we also need realistic transition times, support for those who need to change and to recognise that ongoing access to water (including water for irrigation & processing of crops) is essential for the community resilience required to adapt to climate change. The new water allocation framework, Te Mana o Te Wai, will help us get there.

  5. I am a very enthusiastic supporter of regenerative farming and practice regenerative techniques on my own vineyard. I have greatly enjoyed my involvement with the HB. Future Farming Trust over the last 2 years and applaud their focus on regenerative agriculture. From my own experience and the evidence I have seen on regenerative farms in HB, regenerative agriculture has an important role in building soil carbon, soil health, water storage capacity and resilient farming systems. The focus on reducing or eliminating external nutrient inputs, especially nitrogen, in favour of diverse swards and legumes for free nitrogen along with maintaining longer pasture covers, is likely to be very positive for water quality at scale.

  6. Attractive public transport alternatives between our key nodes for middle-distance commuter travel – especially between Napier/Hastings/CHB. More cycle-friendly routes and priority to cycling safety in our residential and commercial areas, so that cycling is seen as a healthy, safe, enjoyable, practical alternative for shorter distance travel. Need to push hard into our Regional Land Transport Strategy and have public transport as a key part of a new region-wide pan-Council climate resilience strategy/plan.

  7. Build on the Healthy Homes programme to further support retrofitting energy saving measures into existing homes and raising the energy efficiency standards of new builds. Work with the local councils to strengthen uptake of energy efficiency programme for new builds, incorporating standards like the NZ Green Building Council Greenstar system. Target the largest individual regional energy consumers and provide support via strategy & access to capital & national subsidy programmes for energy efficiency with carbon footprint co-benefits. Make active transport and public transport more attractive choices for everyday needs.

  8. First priority is to ensure continuance of HBRC’s 1 in 500 year stopbank strengthening programme, we absolutely need a safe base for our highly populated and highly productive plains areas to be the core of our resilience. Next priority is to get a region-wide climate resilience strategy & plan agreed with all of HB’s Councils, so that we have a united, cohesive approach to implementing change for climate resilience. In broad terms, I see Councils’ roles as educating, modelling, inspiring & facilitating residents’ climate resilience behaviour changes; the job can only be achieved by enlisting the enthusiasm & efforts of our community.

  9. I will happily commit to both Local Government NZ and Institute of Directors training during my first 6-12 months. With my banking background and experience in finance/governance roles on numerous organisations from school boards, local charities and producer associations, through to the multi-million dollar operations of NZ Winegrowers, I have strong governance and finance experience already. But there is plenty to learn about the specifics of the local government sector and I’m not foolish enough to think I know it all.






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