Meet the next generation of elected leaders in Taranaki, Manawatū and Hawkes Bay

ActionStation are profiling inspiring young independent candidates who are standing in local elections around NZ.

7 min readSep 24, 2019
A colourful collage of seven young people in different outdoor settings
Young independent candidates standing for local councils in 2019

For the 2019 local council elections, we are profiling and promoting young (under 40 years old) independent candidates who agree with the vision and values outlined in our community’s crowdsourced vision Te Ira Tāngata and have demonstrated a commitment to climate solutions and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We asked candidates in an online questionnaire if they agree with our community’s vision and to tell us how they will work towards it. We’ve only included the people who responded so this is not an exhaustive list and some young independent candidates may be missing. Please email if you think there is someone we should add!

The following candidates are standing in the Taranaki, Manawatū and Hawkes Bay regions.

Katherine Blaney

36, New Plymouth District Council

Katherine in front of the lake at New Plymouth Botanical Gardens

I am inspired to live in a New Zealand that is based on the values and initiatives outlined in [ActionStation’s vision document] Te Ira Tāngata.

If elected to the NPDC, I want to see us focusing on the people in our community and putting them at the centre of our decision making.

I want us to work smarter to provide for those in need, and I feel strongly that we need to develop a more transparent and vibrant democracy. I would like to see a program that supports people to create socially-focused solutions that work for their communities.

I will support any progress we can make to ensure affordable, quality housing for our residents. I will support policies that are inclusive, fair and honour Te Tiriti O Waitangi. I think that redistributing power so that those affected have more say and more control over the solutions proposed is important.

Ultimately, I want to be able to contribute to a community that thrives in every way.

Check out Katherine’s Facebook page here.

Aleisha Rutherford

29, Palmerston North City Council

Aleisha, holding pēpi, in front of the wooden council doors which say ‘Welcome — Haere Mai’

I’ll continue to honour te Tiriti o Waitangi across all aspects of local government; partner with our people to ensure they have the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of our community; make decisions with people at the centre; fight for equality and speak for those who can’t; look at the big picture and take a long term approach; and do what I can to ensure that all people have access to the right support and opportunities to flourish.

Disclosure: Aleisha is a member of the Labour party, running as an independent.

Check out Aleisha’s Facebook page here.

Amanda Clinton-Gohdes

32, New Plymouth District Council

Amanda standing outside with the maunga (mountain) behind her at sunset

I want to make sure that our environment, our community and our economy are vibrant for our future, and also for our children, our grandchildren– because your future matters, and so does theirs.

If elected to council, I will advocate for the needs of our community. I want to ensure that younger voices have a say in our future. I want the Council to have a role in ensuring people have adequate housing. I want Council to not just consult, but really connect and communicate with the community, particularly tangata whenua, and to help us to better connect with each other.

I want the Council to lead the way in taking climate action — to make climate change the lens through which we make each decision. I want us to continue the good work in tackling waste, and keep us moving towards being a zero waste district by 2040.

If elected, I will do all I can to make sure the transition to a low emission economy works for everyone — that we support diversification of industry, create training opportunities, and encourage innovation.

We need people on Council with fresh perspectives, big hearts and sharp minds — with that, we can really make a difference.

Disclosure: Amanda is a member of the Labour party, running as an independent.

Check out Amanda’s Facebook page here.

Elvisa Van Der Leden

28, Taranaki Regional Council

Elvisa is painting a swimming penguin onto a fence

I will work towards a more effective communication and collaboration strategy from TRC to radically improve wider community engagement.

Through active community participation, we can then recognise and close the gaps where some communities are not being heard and then move forward to a more creative and collaborative space where we can achieve a lot more and faster.

While it is great that TRC now has an Iwi inclusive structure, I believe we need to recognise the absence of Te Tiriti o Waitangi consideration in the outdated Resource Management Act 1991. We need to continue these discussions around the flaws of such legislation so that we can come up with solutions that not only benefit our diverse communities but especially our unique natural environments.

Check out Elvisa’s Facebook page here.

Jake Brookie

25, Napier City Council

Jake standing on a boardwalk that goes through a wetland

Protecting our environment should be a critical issue for Napier’s next Council. 70% of our stormwater discharges straight into our estuary and resolving this will become more and more necessary as Napier grows. I am in favour of establishing a stormwater treatment wetland and more riverside plantings to ensure our estuary is restored.

I am committed to ensuring that we have enough social housing in Napier so everyone can have a safe place to call home. Asides from keeping the Council’s current social housing stock I’d like to see the Council advocate for more state houses. I support the LGNZ motion to ensure Councils have incentives to keep their social and retirement housing. I support the Napier City Council becoming a living wage employer.

There needs to be strong Maori voice in the Napier City Council. In 2017 Napier rejected Maori Wards after public consultation — but there are other ways of ensuring that this voice is heard.

The protection of our environment is also a priority for me and restoring our estuary should be high on the list for the next Council! The same goes for enhancing our inland waterways and attracting native wildlife into our parks.

Check out Jake’s Facebook page here.

Nichola Nicholson

34, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council

Nichola standing in a bush setting

If elected to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council I would work towards ActionStation’s vision of 2040 by advocating for our planet in decision making, helping to develop policy that work for both our communities and our economy, honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi, and working to create a New Zealand that is fair and equitable.

Check out Nichola’s Facebook page here.

Oliver Taylor

18, Hastings District Council

Oliver in shirt and tie sitting in tussock grass

I support sustainable development, where projects such as upgraded recycling facilities, housing developments and upgraded public infrastructure will support local residents and iwi now and far into the future.

A personal focus on restoring consultation within Hastings District Council will lead to increased civic engagement and more trust in our local government. Involving our young people in decision making will make sure we can have long lasting change.

I also want action through cleaning up our rivers and treating our environment with kaitiakitanga overall.

Disclosure: Oliver is a member of the Labour party, running as an independent.

Check out Oliver’s Facebook page here.

Tangi Utikere

39, Palmerston North City Council

Tangi in a gallery space putting his arm through a glowing machine of some kind, laughing, with two friends smiling

[I’ll achieve the vision of Te Ira Tāngata] By ensuring that the Council is representative of the Community that it serves, and is also responsive to their needs; by being able to engage with the community in a meaningful way.

Disclosure: Tangi is a member of the Labour party, running as an independent.

Check out Tangi’s Facebook page here.

Want to read more profiles? Check out inspiring young independents running in other areas too:

Want more information before voting?

The Spinoff has a great website with profiles on candidates at this link:

Stuff has candidate profiles based on their climate action policies at this link:

How to vote

Voting is open from 20 September till midday 12 October.

If you’re enrolled you’ll receive your voting papers in the post from 20 September. 📮

If you’re not enrolled, or your papers haven’t arrived, no worries! Just head to your local council office to enrol and vote in person. 🔍 Find details for your council here:

By voting in the local election, and supporting friends or whānau members to join you, we will multiply the impact of our community and elect councillors that will advocate for the ecosystems that sustain life.




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