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Aaron Hawkins

Green Otepoti

Which communities will you speak for and about at the council table?

The commitment we make as elected members is to represent everyone in our community, and in my view (perhaps even more importantly) those who are still to come after us.

What is the number one social and economic issue for the community and for the city? (DCC question). What is the key issue for the region at this time and for the next 10 years? (ORC question)

Too often people seem to think of 'social issues' and 'economic issues' as polar opposites, when in fact they're intrinsically linked. Our goal should be to make sure everyone in our community has equitable access to the opportunities our city provides.

How will you elevate community aspirations? How will you know what they are? (DCC question only)

A great deal of work has been done with our community over the past decade to determine what these aspirations are. The current review of our strategic framework is the perfect opportunity to see if they're still valid, and that they reinforce each other, and our community will play a critical role in that conversation. We also need their guidance on how we measure the success of these, which will become the 'Levels of Service' measures in the next ten year plan.

Under the Local Government Act 2002, councils are required to maintain and improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to local government decision-making processes. How will you honour this obligation in your role with the Dunedin City Council/Otago Regional Council?

It may have taken us 180 years to get to the starting line, but I'm proud of the work we've done to amplify the Maori voice in our decision making. As Mayor it has been a priority of mine to build our relationship with mana whenua, and to listen more than I speak. Despite the challenging political environment of recent times, and the fact that there's plenty more to do, I like to think that I've done this.

What is your usual approach to achieving collegial and constructive relationships with the people you work with? What is the most important element of a constructive working relationship?

The most important job of the Mayor is to allow the different perspectives of our community, through the elected members they elect, to be heard in the debates that shape our city. We won't always agree, but we are all better off when those views are able to be shared in a collegial fashion. I think I have facilitated this in a patient and empathetic manner.

One of the best things about local government is that there's no 'opposition'. Anyone can set the course for the city if they can convince seven other people to support them. Over the past nine years I've been able to build broad political support for progressive ideas that put social and environmental wellbeing at the centre of what we do.

The DCC's place-based community fund has been a game changer for community-led development and growing connected and resilient communities in Ōtepoti. What more will you do as a councillor to support community development in the city? (DCC candidate question only)

Council's decision to back neighbourhood scale community development has been really important.

We know in an increasingly unstable climate that stronger communities will help us get through challenging times.

Government (central or local) isn't always in the best position to build this capacity. Sometimes we need to accept that the community can do it better, and just get out of the way.


I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.


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