Hamilton City, New Zealand

Ross MacLeod

I first came to Hamilton in 1998 to study at Waikato University and I ended up staying.
I worked for the Waikato Times in the central city for 15 year and currently work at the head office of Epilepsy New Zealand.
My wife and I are live near Five Crossroads.

I’ve called this city home for more than 25 years. In that time, I’ve been a renter and a ratepayer, a cyclist and a commuter. I’ve seen Hamilton change and expand, and I believe that change will accelerate in the coming years. I want to make sure we’re ready for it. Our communities need resilient infrastructure and flexible systems to develop our transport, waterways, and technology.

In my 20 years experience collaborating in the creative community I’ve built skills in leadership and bringing groups together for a common goal.
Through my 15 years producing events at the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival I’ve build skills in adapting to challenges and delivering to deadlines.
My 9 years on The One Victoria Trust Board has taught my valuable governance skills and the importance of diverse voices.
My 4 years working with at the head office of Epilepsy New Zealand has given me a greater appreciation of the varied challenges people may face and the value that knowledge and support can bring.

I believe that the core skills of a councillor are listening, collaborating, and communicating effectively to unite different viewpoints behind important decisions.
I want to bring the skills I have to the Hamilton City Council to help work towards making Hamilton a safe, secure city.

Infrastructure and climate change.

Roads, water, and waste management are key aspects to a functioning city, but infrastructure encompasses more than that.
It encompasses our systems, our operations, our technology and our people. If a road has a pothole, then infrastructure to fix it includes the ease of reporting it to council, the systems in which it is recorded and prioritized, the people and resources to fix it, the financial tracking to track the costs. The more integrated they are, the better we are able to maintain these services for the community.
As our population grows, whether upwards or outwards, our infrastructure demands grow with it and we need to make sure we are ready for those changes.

I believe the greatest challenge over the coming decades will be climate change. Even in a location insulated from some of the more extreme risks faced in other regions, we still need to be aware of those potential impacts. We need to build out transport systems to help reduce carbon emissions.
We need to secure our water supply to manage droughts and flooding.
When 60% of our power is hydroelectric, we need to be ready for droughts impacting that too.
And with 12 of our 15 largest cities on the coast, we need to plan for the potential impacts of inland migration.
Local government needs to work with relevant groups to prepare for these challenges before they occur.

I am not affiliated with any political party.

While I think there were errors made in the consultation process, I think that 3 Waters is solid plan for addressing the deficits in water infrastructure present in some places across New Zealand, and a path to maintaining it in the future. Water is something that can often seem to be working fine until suddenly it isn’t. Contaminated drinking water in Havelock North, sewage in Wellington and excess storm water in many recent weather events have all highlighted these challenges.

The changes in the ability to opt-out were one of the biggest errors in the early stage, unfortunately setting the ground for more ill-will. It may not seem fair that councils that have been doing a good job managing water have been bunched together with councils that haven’t, but a large-scale system, especially one leveraging large borrowing, works better if everyone is involved.

The cost of upgrading of out-of-date infrastructure is huge, often beyond the capacity of local councils. Water may be an asset, but managing that water can be a liability.
Larger bodies with a scope and scale for this does make sense to me. I do have concerns around whether the smaller regions, with less representation on the boards, might be overlooked in favour of larger regions but this can be monitored through the process.

Our water systems are at risk and this risk is going to get worse. The way we’ve been doing things needs to change and I see 3 Waters as a proposal to try something new.

I support the existence of Maaori Wards. There have been various attempts in the past to include Maaori voices on council but they have not been effective. Introducing wards ensures this representation in parallel to the other wards, similar to what we see on a national level.
A council benefits from diverse perspectives and cultures, and I look forward to seeing how the Maaori wards will improve this.

As mentioned above, diverse voices can lead to a better understanding and new directions that may have been overlooked.
These partnerships can also have benefits for both groups, with access to reach and resources that the other may lack.
However, I think there need to be clear understandings, divisions of responsibility and authority, and pathways forward in situations where strong differences or conflicts arise. Recent conflicts over management of Te Urewera between Tūhoe and DOC suggests the need for better processes to avoid this.

There will always be a balance between what is the responsibility of local and central government, including an area of overlap where things are in dispute, such as 3 Waters as mentioned above. Local councils are closer to the communities they serve and better able to react to local needs. Central government is about creating a framework for the laws and regulations that all people, and all local bodies follow. Local Councils should operate within those frameworks, but also be a voice for local communities in challenging those frameworks where needed.

No. I believe the current areas covered by the HCC are appropriate.

I believe that part of this is the result of the scope and scale of advertising and media attention on national election, thus putting them more in the front on the collective consciousness.
I think most people also see national elections as having a greater impact on their lives than local ones.

Yes. I think it makes sense that councillors are members of the regions they represent.

Term limits can be beneficial to prevent a council stagnating. Long terms councillors can have a valuable understand of process and politics but can also lose perspective from outside council chambers.
Re-election rates of councillors seem fairly high. By limiting this to consecutive terms it doesn’t prevent councillors standing again at a later date but it does mean there is new blood coming in.

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