Candidates speak up for Mataura

On the campaign trail . . . Mataura Community Board candidates (from left) Colleen Te Au, Melissa Storer, Darren Matahiki, Gina Adcock, Matu-Taera Coleman Clarke, Laurel Turnbull, Nicky Coats and Steven Dixon introduced themselves to the community at a meet the candidates meeting hosted by the Mataura Lions Club at the town’s community centre last week. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Concern that Mataura is not being given the same opportunities as Gore was raised during a meet the candidates event in the town last week.

The evening to meet the Mataura Community Board candidates was hosted by the Mataura Lions Club and attended by about 70 residents.

Gore district councillor Cliff Bolger chaired the meeting.

There are 10 candidates for the five positions on the board, and Steven (Boko) Dixon is the only member standing again from this term’s board.

Candidates Melissa Storer, Colleen Te Au, Darren Matahiki, Matu-Taera Coleman-Clarke, Gina Adcock, Mr Dixon, Laurel Turnbull and Nicky Coats introduced themselves to the audience and answered questions.

Two candidates, Tanya Rowling and Constance Waihape, did not attend the meeting.

Mrs Storer said she believed the town was ‘‘getting left behind’’ Gore.

‘‘It’s time to make a stand.

‘‘Can you see where all your rates are going to? Because I can’t.

‘‘I want to see Mataura come alive and be what it used to be.’’

Ms Te Au said she agreed with the money being spent on improving facilities in Gore but thought the Mataura library should also be upgraded.

‘‘We all have to pay rates and it’s infuriating watching a whole other town upgrade its services and over a long period of time now we’ve systematically watched things shut down here.

‘‘Let’s start challenging the status quo a little and pushing back.’’

Mr Dixon said there were projects the present community board had not completed due to a lack of funding.

There was ratepayer money available for Gore projects but not for those in Mataura, he said.

He believed community board members had the right to question how ratepayer money was spent because the council was reliant on rates from Mataura.

‘‘We are the walking frame for Gore.

‘‘We go away they fall over.’’

Mrs Turnbull said some councils gave their community boards up to 60% of the rates from the area to spend.

‘‘I think it is time we took a stand and demanded this happens.

‘‘The Gore District Council doesn’t really treat the Mataura Community Board well.’’

Mrs Coats said she believed it was important the voice of Mataura residents were heard when it came to decisions regarding the future of the town.

‘‘We are getting left behind, I feel.’’

Parts of the town were looking rundown and needed a ‘‘hoozle up’’, she said.

Mrs Adcock said there were many improvements that needed to be made in the district.

The place to begin was ‘‘listening to the wants and needs of the community’’.

Providing more opportunities for young people in the town was another topic discussed.

Mr Coleman-Clarke said a youth centre was needed for the town.

‘‘A place for them to go and mingle with their mates and a safe haven as well for them to be able to talk get off the streets and hopefully on to the right path.’’

While the town had a pump track for younger residents, it was important to provide activities rangatahi (teenagers) wanted.

‘‘We have to find something that trends with them and they are eager to stay with.’’

Mr Matahiki said that when he was growing up in the town there was a place for the young people to gather, but there was nowhere nowadays.

‘‘We need a place for the kids to play.’’

Gore mayoral candidates Ben Bell and Tracy Hicks were given an opportunity to speak.

Mataura Licensing Trust candidates for the Mataura ward Brendon (Moe) Murray and Ms Te Au also spoke, as did district-wide candidates Keith Hovell and Joe Stringer.