Rotorua election: Mayoral candidates answer questions from young residents

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The chance to be at the forefront of carbon reduction, engagement and investment were some of the ideas of the 2022 mayoral candidates to keep young people in Rotorua.

At a meeting hosted by Young and Local at Pig and Whistle, Ben Sandford, Fletcher Tabuteau and Tania Tapsell were challenged on the topics of housing, youth retention and tourism.

Thomas Falconer, a member of the Young and Local committee, said Friday’s meeting of mayoral candidates took place because some felt the candidates had not answered enough questions from young people in the run-up to local elections .

Three of Rotorua's mayoral candidates met the Young&Local community on Friday evening.  Photo / Maryana Garcia
Three of Rotorua’s mayoral candidates met the Young&Local community on Friday evening. Photo / Maryana Garcia

“We want to get to know them a bit better and tonight will be a great opportunity to do that.

“Young and Local’s aim is to bring the young people of Rotorua together and promote Rotorua to young people,” Falconer told the contestants.

“The majority of young people in Rotorua can’t wait to leave when they turn 18 and after university they never come back.

“What would you do as mayor to help make Rotorua a great place for young people, to keep them here and attract more of them?”

Fletcher Tabuteau said he wants to give young people the chance to be at the forefront of reducing carbon emissions.  Photo / Maryana Garcia
Fletcher Tabuteau said he wants to give young people the chance to be at the forefront of reducing carbon emissions. Photo / Maryana Garcia

Tabuteau said he wanted to give young people the chance to be at the forefront of reducing carbon emissions.

“It’s about making the city sexy,” Tabuteau said.

“I want to make sure the education opportunities here in Rotorua are broad, exciting and attractive enough to keep people here.”

Tabuteau said he was particularly passionate about the job potential in geothermal and hydrogen.

“If they [Rotorua’s young people] could be at the forefront of helping the world and New Zealand reduce carbon emissions, which would be amazing.”

Tania Tapsell said Rotorua is home to many brilliant minds and investment is essential to keep them.  Photo / Maryana Garcia
Tania Tapsell said Rotorua is home to many brilliant minds and investment is essential to keep them. Photo / Maryana Garcia

Tapsell said unlocking investment opportunities would be essential for Rotorua to retain its younger population.

“We have so many brilliant minds here in Rotorua,” Tapsell said.

“They don’t have to go all the way to Auckland or overseas. I want to allow them to stay here, start their business and be really supported here in the community.”

Tapsell said if elected Rotorua’s youngest mayor she would engage with young professionals on key issues.

“It’s about making sure you can engage with board processes so you can help shape the future.”

Ben Sandford said young people want to be able to contribute, have ideas and be able to make them happen.  Photo / Maryana Garcia
Ben Sandford said young people want to be able to contribute, have ideas and be able to make them happen. Photo / Maryana Garcia

Sandford said what he lacked in Rotorua was the “tangibility” of opportunities and possibilities.

“The board must be able to create opportunities and possibilities for us.”

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Sandford said young people wanted to be able to contribute.

“You want to be able to have an idea and you want to be able to bring that idea to fruition.”

Sandford said a better “night economy” in the city would also help encourage young people to stay and create the right “vibe”.

“The mayor sets the tone. If we have a council with the right tone, the right vibe that creates a really great city.”

Questions asked to candidates:
• What will you do as mayor to facilitate the construction of new housing for all market segments?
• What would you do as mayor to help make Rotorua a great place for young people to keep them here and attract more?
• What would you do to encourage tourists to stay longer in Rotorua?
• What would you do to encourage more events to come here?
• What can be done to restore Rotorua’s brand and image?

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