Hamilton City, New Zealand

Paula Southgate

Hamilton has been home for me and my family for over 40 years. I attended Hamilton Girl’s High and the University of Waikato.
I have a background in education, counselling and business support and have over 25 years of community and Local Government Governance. I am currently the Mayor of Hamilton.


I love Hamilton and strongly believe we need positive, experienced leadership to create a city where everyone can thrive. I remain dedicated to creating a safer, vibrant Hamilton, and improving the wellbeing of our people.

Under my leadership, Hamilton has a strong, functional, Council that has made positive progress for our city. We are enabling more homes, supporting business, and revitalising the central city. We’re nurturing green spaces and prioritising climate change. We are building safer, more efficient transport networks. And we’re supporting people and communities.

There’s more to do and I want to continue to partner with others to do it. I have unfinished business and partnerships. City safety must remain a priority. Affordable housing is vital, but not at the expense of good neighbourhoods. And transport must be safe and efficient for all users. And we need to invest in our people and future, but we must control finances.

I am have a long experience in community and local government governance. I don’t shy away from hard issues. I look for solutions. I firmly believe we must put personal politics aside and put people first to create a city where we all people can thrive, and can feel proud. My commitment is to maintain a positive, professional and effective Council team to work for you. No one who runs for Mayor can achieve much on their own. I am a proven team player and I am a strong advocate and positive ambassador for our city.

We should feel safe at work, at play and at home. I am very concerned about crime in our city and want to positive difference. We have a lot to do. I have already strengthened partnerships with Police, and key agencies to create the “Safest City Taskforce”. But to make true progress we must collaborate with a wide range of community and safety services and of course you.

Every person deserves a place to call home. Our housing market must create well- designed and affordable homes. While progress has been made there is much more to do. I want to ensure Hamilton City Council continues to play it’s part in enabling better housing outcomes, including affordable homes to buy or rent supported by great local neighbourhoods.

Hamiltonians want roads and footpaths to be safe and maintained. We need traffic to flow and access to reasonable parking but also safe cycling and walking routes. We need transport choice and a safe and efficient transport network.

We all love our parks, riverside walks and green spaces. We need clean air, good water quality and green spaces to play or relax and we must tackle climate change. We must retain a strong focus on creating healthier, greener city for us to enjoy now and in the future.

Costs have gone up and inflation is high. We can’t heap all of the extra burden the ratepayer. We must take a sensible and balanced approach to running our city. Attracting funding partnerships and controlling costs is vital.

No, I believe a Mayor must work with Government and all parties to drive the best outcomes for the city. A Mayor must have strong relationships with key decision makers and influencers at every level, be prepared to push back on issues that do not well serve Hamilton and be a positive advocate for support or funding when we need it.
Local Government best practice states that an elected member must demonstrate an open mind in considering all issues. To me this means listening and reflecting and in some instances revising your position. Independence allows me to keep an open mind across issued until final decisions are required.

I have been consistent in saying that across NZ some change is required to the way water services are managed. New Zealanders deserve safe drinking water and clean rivers, lakes and beaches. I do NOT support the current proposal for 3 Waters. I oppose the 4 entity model, the current proposal for asset transfer and have been concerned about the lack of local voice.

By majority decision of Council I was asked in the early stages (14 months ago) to work with Government to inform and shape the future model, and while some changes were made, the Government have not taken on board our feedback. For this reason I most recently voted alongside my Council to oppose the 3 Waters Bill. I will represent the views of Council at the Select Committee, alongside Council’s Chair of Infrastructure.

On personal note I am solution focused. Thought must be given a better solution for efficient and cost effective water management. Hamilton is facing staggering future costs for new water services, renewals and maintenance. This must be addressed.

The provision of Maori Seats is a legitimate mechanism for giving effect to the treaty of Waitangi.

Co-governance should be considered on a case by case basis and may not be the right solution in all cases. Local Government, by law, has to give effect to the Treaty of Waitangi and we must consider how this is best done in each case. I support working constructively with Maori in a way that delivers benefits to Maori and the wider community.

Local Government NZ exists to represent the interests of the Local Government Sector and to lobby Government. They do this with mixed results. However, given the wide range of differences between Councils, it is always hard to please all. At the moment, due to the impacts of reform, the relationship is a bit strained, but that is not a bad thing. Sometimes Local Government must be assertive and strongly stand against changes.

My relationship with Government, and minor parties, has been strong over 15 years. As an elected member it is my role to convey the democratic decisions of Council to Ministers. I believe a Mayor should develop open relationships, while still being a strong and constructive advocate for their citizens. This sometimes means offering to partner and collaborate and sometimes standing in opposition to Government view, assertively but politely. Relationships are key to all progress.

No, I think we have a good grip on our role in delivering against the 4 well-beings these being economic, social, cultural and environmental. Our Council vision focuses on:
A city that is easy to live in
A city where people thrive
A central city where people love to be
A fun city with lots to do
AND a green city

This enable us to develop and Long term Plan that delivers on what our citizens want.

Electronic voting is critical if we are to get better returns.
Strengthening our engagement with the community in all years, not just election years is vital if we expect people to be well informed and interested in the work of Council.

Ideally yes. If not, they need a strong connection with the city through business or education.
It is up to the voter to determine if a candidate has a strong ability to understand the needs of the city and represent the citizens.

No. The limiting factor should be on whether they remain actively committed to the wellbeing of the city. Each candidate should demonstrate to voters that they are active participators in Council work, understand the issues and are connected to/ assessible to the community.
There is a place for a blend of experienced and new leadership. Experience elected members should have a role to play in growing the talents of new councillors.

And finally motivation is a personal thing. I feel highly motivated and bring skill, experience and passion to the role, if I didn’t I would move on to new challenges.

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