Meet the next generation of elected leaders in Waikato and Bay of Plenty

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

10 min readSep 24, 2019
A collage of nine young people in various (mostly) 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 Waikato or Bay of Plenty regions.

Kaya Sparke

23, Rotorua Lakes Council

Wāhine toa Kaya looking direct to camera, in a garden setting with fence on one side

I’m running … for our people and for our planet.

As a wāhine Māori, honouring Ti Tiriti will be a baseline for all of my endeavours, scraping the current mode of ‘iwi consultation’ will be my first district specific issue. My three election priorities are kanorau — diversity, whakaruru — housing and whakauka taio — sustainability. I want to give a voice specifically to those who are marginalised and consistently blocked from the decision making table.

Looking after Papatūānuku will be at the core of all policy that comes my way. Without her we are nothing and it’s as simple as that.

Disclosure: Kaya is a member of the Green party, running as an independent.

Check out Kaya’s Facebook page here.

Elijah Pue

25, Ruapehu District Council

Elijah at a rocky beach, smiling to camera in jacket and cap

I will listen to the voices of young people, Māori and the diverse cultures in our community to ensure that their voices are heard. Te Tiriti o Waitangi will be the document that is referred to at every meeting to ensure that all that Council do is in line, and consistent with views of tāngata whenua, and indeed with the principles of Te Tiriti.

I am connected across our community so come with a wealth of personal and professional integrity. Our environment will be the starting point of all initiatives, as a healthy taiao translates into healthy people, whānau and communities.

Disclosure: Elijah is a member of the Māori party, running as an independent.

Check out Elijah’s Facebook page here.

Talei Bryant

22, Whakatāne District Council

Talei with a big smile against dark background

If elected into local council I will ensure the voices of the people especially the youth are heard.

By organising regular community hui within the different wards during different times of the day so that more people are able to attend, we will be able to find out what the challenges for the community is from the community.

I would then ensure we have a community led action plan on how to overcome these challenges and ensure that all the services/groups of people who can help are involved. Our people need to know they are being heard and if elected I will ensure that happens.

Louise Hutt

26, Mayor & council for Hamilton West

Louise, smiling, against a black background

Our city should be one we can be proud of, which looks after us and looks like us — where we feel safe and celebrated.

We need people to understand that our environment is a taonga which has to be looked after, and respect the principles of kaitiakitanga and are willing to apply them in the appropriate ways, working in collaboration and partnership with mana whenua across the board (#HonourTeTiriti).

We must also acknowledge that inequality is not just something which we experience in terms of housing insecurity or job insecurity — but racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, and all other forms of harm and violence against marginalized groups must be addressed — and we have to work with those communities to find solutions which are co-designed together — using their lived experience to drive what needs to be done and the privilege and power of council to implement it.

I want to ensure that our public is more informed, rather than less, on how local government affects us, and that council should improve the wellbeing for everyone in our city, not just a few.

Disclosure: Louise is a member of the Green party, running as an independent.

Check out Louise’s Facebook page here.

I support the reinstatement of advisory panels to represent the youth, disabled, aged populations and other expert groups. I also support Māngai Māori to help ensure the partnership between the Crown and Māori under te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Suzi Paige

35, Tauranga City Council

Suzi at work with a collection of craft beer taps behind them.

One of the key reasons I decided to run for council was because I looked at the incumbent members and none of them represented me or the people in the communities I span across.

There were no people that I felt would carry our views, outlooks and opinions to the decision making table. I felt that if we were to have a voice in the decisions being made to bring Tauranga back together, we needed representation at the table. I’m never going to be there for everyone, I am there for people who aren’t represented now.

As such, I am committed to remaining true to my values, the values I am going to be elected on, and ensure that there is robust and thorough discussion for the best results for everyone in the city. I have a vision that Tauranga will be connected, vibrant and inclusive city; connected with both nature and each other.

Disclosure: Suzi is a member of the Green party, running as an independent.

Check out Suzi’s Facebook page here.

Jako Abrie

30, Tauranga City Council.

Jako with two older people smiling, green colour beers in front of them
Jako on the right, with friends on St Patrick’s Day

As a volunteer and trustee for two charities helping the homeless, I’ve seen how much more we should be doing to make New Zealand fair. In Tauranga I’ll be fighting to overturn the homeless begging ban, and instead use that money to help our people.

I’ll push for emergency planning changes to help us alleviate our housing crisis. The number of people on the MSD social housing waiting list has more than doubled in Tauranga over the past 3 years.

I’ll work for fairer representation through a Māori ward.

Disclosure: Jako is a member of the TOP party, running as an independent.

Check out Jako’s Facebook page here.

Dan Armstrong

26, Waikato Regional Council.

Dan smiling to camera with trees and park in background.

[I will work towards the vision of Te Ira Tāngata] by working hard to ensure that tikanga and values are upheld and incorporating appropriate frameworks to recognise the work and contributions of local Iwi and Hapu.

By being an advocate who knows the most important thing is to listen.

Finally, to be an elected official that treats everyone with dignity — instead of making assumptions or ignoring different groups that currently get neglected.

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

Check out Dan’s Facebook page here.

Alana Delich

35, Waikato Regional Council

Alana to side of photo smiling at camera with field, moana (sea) and maunga (mountain) behind.

I am an ecologist, a mum, and a farmer’s Daughter. I believe with the right policies, the Waikato Region can have thriving urban and rural communities with a diversified low-carbon local economy, clean water, thriving biodiversity, and excellent public transport links within and outside the region.

We need to create a future-proofed region where the next generation can thrive. I will focus on highlighting climate change as a key issue to consider in all decision making, and enabling and incentivising planting native vegetation and alternate land uses for multiple outcomes in carbon sequestration, biodiversity protection and water quality.

I will also focus on building communication between our urban and rural communities. I grew up on a farm, and I know that most farmers are environmentalists at heart. We need to support and enable our farmers to make good decisions about the management of their land.

Disclosure: Alana is a member of the TOP party, running as an independent.

Check out Alana’s Facebook page here.

Jennifer Nickel

33, Waikato Regional Council

Jennifer smiling to camera against a garden and green hill background

I will practice care, creativity, courage and compassion in my leadership role and decision making as our wellbeing and that of future generations is dependent on a healthy environment.

I envision people being proud of their homes, towns and natural environment, expanded public transport being the most enjoyable and affordable option, and well-paying job opportunities in a variety of industries.

That we feel safe and supported in our communities with plenty of hands-on information on how we can enhance and enjoy our environment.

I am committed to continuing to bring local tangata whenua and mana whenua into collaboration and partnership with WRC decision making.

Check out Jennifer’s Facebook page here.

Ryan Gray

32, Rotorua Lakes Council

Ryan on a mountain bike with bike helmet on head, in from of countryside setting of green planted pine trees and a lake

People should be front and center of every decision made. From housing, to car parking to active transport, and everywhere inbetween: Council makes decisions which affect everyone in our community.

Our people need affordable and healthy places to live, quality public spaces to play and a city to be proud of.

Genuine partnerships between Council and Iwi, Council and Community, Council and Central Government will ensure that our community continues to flourish.

Politics doesn’t happen once every 3 years — it happens all the time. If elected I will host regular ‘Chat with a Councillor’ events around our city as a part of regular consultation to ensure Council’s decisions are best reflecting the needs of our community.

Check out Ryan’s Facebook page here.

Robyn Sinclair

37, Thames-Coromandel District Council

Robyn is smiling to camera, has a pack on her back and forest scenery behind her

The inclusion of all people is important to me in decision making at a local government level.

Our council is white; I want to ensure that the perspectives and wishes of tangata whenua are included despite not yet being represented. Also at present there is one woman and no one under the age of 50 on council at TCDC — I tick both boxes.

I have worked in climate change research in Australia, and in greenhouse gas footprinting for industry and local government in New Zealand. I’m a dedicated member of Transition Town Thames and have helped plant street fruit tree plantings, build community gardens.

This year I was part of a team who organised a sustainability festival for Thames and have successfully lobbied the community board to increase the number of bike racks in the CBD.

You can see the profiles of young inspiring candidates in other areas at these links:

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:

Seed Waikato have profiled candidates under 35 in the Waikato region, check them out here:

Organise Aotearoa have released a survey of candidates in Waikato 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.




Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.