Environment Southland candidate profiles | Otago Daily Times Online News

The historic drought at the beginning of 2022 has, in many ways, shaped the outlook of many Southlanders who rely on the land for income.

Environment Southland led the charge in mitigating the fallout from the adverse weather, introducing several restrictions for water usage — the most controversial of  which was a direction for farmers to halt the use of aquifers. This decision saw a degree of condemnation from the rural community and was soon back-pedalled by  the regional council. With climate change being at the forefront of many people’s minds, weather patterns like the drought and, later, flooding are expected to occur  with more frequency and intensity.  Environment Southland councillors are behind the wheel on deciding how the region will face these unprecedented challenges. 

Question 1: What guidelines should ES have in place for effective emergency drought management?

 Question 2: What are your goals and priorities for council?



No response received before deadline.



Constituency: Invercargill-Rakiura.

Age: Declined.

Occupation: Manager.

Question 1: Drought will affect everyone. Niwa forecasts are for more frequent heavy rain and drought events for Southland into the near future. Educating and informing communities about the actions they can take will be the most effective tool for responding to drought. That will require a co-ordinated community effort. Keeping irrigation consent holders informed when extreme conditions are predicted is essential.

Question 2: I want to enhance communication with our communities, particularly about the predicted effects of climate change, and the management of the increasing demands on our water resources. The deterioration in the quality and flow quantity of our rivers and streams in the last few years are obvious. We have to preserve and protect our water resource for our children and grandchildren.



Declined to respond.



No response received before deadline.



Constituency: Invercargill-Rakiura.

Age: 64.

Occupation: Columnist (NZ Gardener), volunteer driver (Longwood Loop).

Question 1: Our response to emergency droughts in the region must be flexible and community-supported. The nature and intensity of droughts in Southland has changed and will continue to change, and not for the better, in my opinion. Land-use practices will change as the climate changes and responses from the regional council must change with the conditions. Water resources are community resources, and should not be captured by industry.

Question 2: All councils must adapt to the new conditions and do so quickly. There is a tendency to drag the chain with conservative councils in the south but that practice is outmoded now — the coming period is one of rapid and unpredictable change — councillors who are flexible in their thinking and far-sighted with their vision for the region, should be supported come voting-time, for the sake of all of us.



Constituency: Invercargill-Rakiura.

Age: 54.

Occupation: Teacher and Environment Southland councillor.

Question 1: Guidelines are a proactive approach and could include clear definitions of kinds of drought, identification of indicators, thresholds, early warning and actions. Balancing abstraction and recharge of groundwater is necessary and should be informed by sufficient data collection and modelling, analysis of economic, societal and environmental impacts and the involvement of key sectors through clear, direct communication channels.

Urban and rural communities can contribute to water usage and conservation measures.

Question 2: Legislative changes are increasing workloads, expectations and costs. Seeking partnerships and supplementary funding options to ensure our communities are well served at an affordable cost is essential. Completing the Coastal Plan, improving urban air quality, and understanding the opportunities co-governance offers our region are important. Leading the region’s climate change responses is exciting and offers great opportunities to involve all of our Southland communities. I want to maintain an urban, family, experienced voice at council.



Constituency: Hokonui.

Age: 58.

Occupation: Semi-retired farmer.

Question 1: It’s important that emergency drought management meet the basic needs of humans and animals, but also important that property rights are upheld so businesses can function and operate to their consented conditions.

Question 2: If elected to the council, my goal is to represent the Hokonui constituency to the best of my ability, taking into account the range of farming and business activities and environmental aspirations in this community, and also ensuring property rights are protected to ensure this community can prosper and be resilient.



Constituency: Southern.

Age: 63.

Occupation: Farmer.

Question 1: Last year’s drought showed us that we should have used the Emergency Management centre earlier, informing all sectors of the moisture trends and weather forecasts.

I think we should work closer with Federated Farmers and rural consultants to ensure all stock are well-fed, long-term feed budgeting is real, on farm decisions/planning is done early and community wellbeing for farmers and staff is a priority.

Question 2: I want Environment Southland to have: A clear communication plan, easier access to staff, more public meetings with two-way flow of information, be up-front with government policy and requirements and trends, and acknowledge and celebrate positive environmental outcomes.

I would like the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan to be out of the Environment Court.

We all want clean fresh water for all our people, our animals, and our next generation to come.



Constituency: Hokonui.

Age: 55.

Occupation: Farmer.

Question 1: It’s important that all water users accept that drought situations will become more severe in the future so our responses will have to match that severity. Large scale domestic and primary industries must look at investing in contingencies for these emergencies. When in these difficult times, arbitrary decisions must be avoided. Flows and levels must be transparently displayed on the council website with distinct restriction and cut-off bottom lines.

Question 2: My goals sit within a team approach. Firstly, to continue with freshwater improvement across Southland in a responsible but meaningful way, making sure Southland determines its own future.

Secondly to understand and then act on any weaknesses in our flood protection assets.

Actively seek support for council co-operation across all services. Four councils serving 100,000 citizens is unsustainable into the future.

Continue on to be part of a stable and functioning council.



Constituency: Invercargill-Rakiura.

Age: 43.

Occupation: Dolphin researcher, mother of two.

Question 1: Plan for early responses to long-term forecasts of drought; support people to get drought ready.

Establish back-up sources of water for emergency use for catchments already under too much pressure.

Reduce water use to protect the health of the rivers, upholding Te Mana o te Wai, while ensuring essential provision for humans and animals.

Focus on growing community and environmental resilience.

Encourage water conservation and best practice by all users — urban and rural.

Question 2: I believe in thriving communities and ecosystems; strong relationships with mana whenua; and restoring our environment so it is even better for future generations.

I’m passionate about restoring the health of our rivers; reducing bycatch of taonga species occurring off our coasts; preventing the erosion of coastal dumps out to sea.

Building climate resilience is essential, as is enhancing the biodiversity that calls Murihiku home — from the mountains to the sea, ki uta ki tai.



Constituency: Eastern Dome.

Age: 52.

Occupation: Farmer.

Question 1: We should have a 1-5 flow chart. 1 = normal levels, and 5 = severe.

We could show very simply where each water site is in regards to the drought flow chart and the necessary actions that would occur at these levels.

Consent holders or anyone in the community could see these levels via our website or be sent emails at any stage.

This would keep the community informed at what stage any restrictions were going to be implemented.

Question 2: My main priority is to make sure whatever legislation the Government hands down to us can be made into practical and common sense regulation with achievable and community desired outcomes.

With any of these decisions I always put my community at the forefront of my thoughts.

Communication to our community must also be a priority for us to achieve the outcomes needed for a thriving Southland now and into our future.



No response received before deadline.



Constituency: Invercargill-Rakiura.

Age: 55.

Occupation: Freelance consultant.

Question 1: The science suggests Southland can expect major droughts more frequently in future within a broad trend of reducing annual rainfall for the region. A proactive response to strengthening water security is called for within a wider effort to strengthen regional environmental resilience.

When drought conditions emerge, managing the response, district by district, is best supported by scenario-based contingency planning. Supporting communities and businesses to build resilience ahead of such events represents an obvious prudent investment.

Question 2: In July, following more than three years of work, the Southland Regional Forum offered 116 recommendations to Environment Southland. Those recommendations represent an integrated response to remediating and managing the region’s freshwaters over the next 25 years.

As Regional Forum co-chair and lead writer of the Regional Forum report, I appreciate the importance of now working collaboratively to implement and support those recommendations. Driving that significant piece of work is my priority for council.



No response received before deadline.



No response received before deadline.



Constituency: Invercargill-Rakiura.

Age: 71.

Occupation: Community volunteer, sustainable nutrient management consultant, native forest restoration manager.

Question 1: ES guidelines and policies must encourage people to become drought resilient. Householders should treat water as a valuable resource. Methods to conserve water when it is abundant i.e. water tanks in towns and cities, and reservoirs and wetlands that store water in rural areas, should be developed. Profitable farming and business systems that use water efficiently need to be encouraged. Water charges should be considered.

Question 2: Our water and air quality, and biodiversity must be protected to maintain the region’s prosperity. We must advocate for and undertake action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and plan for the adverse effects of climate change. I will advocate for all councillors to work with the community to achieve goals which lead to a future that has a vibrant economy, healthy biodiversity, good water and air quality and access to these resources.



No response received before deadline.



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