Hamilton / Waikato election survey 2019

Organise Aotearoa has surveyed everyone standing in the 2019 Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council elections.

We have ranked all candidates on their commitment to social justice, eliminating poverty, Tiriti o Waitangi, climate change action, public transport, reducing police harassment, good science, and social housing.

Hamilton Mayor

Our top two candidates for mayor are Louise Hutt and Paula Southgate. Click here to read the answers from all the Hamilton mayoral candidates.

Hamilton East

If you live on the east side of the river you can vote for six candidates for council, as well as your vote for mayor. Our top six candidates in the Hamilton East ward are:

  • Peter Humphreys
  • Kesh Naidoo-Rauf
  • Maxine van Oosten
  • Meleane​ Burgess
  • Tim Young
  • Anna Smart

Click here to read the answers from all the Hamilton East candidates.

Hamilton West

If you live on the west side of the river you can vote for six candidates for council, as well as your vote for mayor. Our top six candidates in the Hamilton West ward are:

  • Sarah Thomson
  • Louise Hutt
  • Melaina Huaki
  • Peter Bos
  • Dave Macpherson​​
  • Martin Gallagher

Click here to read the answers from all the Hamilton West candidates.

Waikato Regional Council

We surveyed Waikato Regional Council candidates on their commitment to the living wage. Our top candidates are:

  • Jennifer Nickel (Hamilton)
  • Alana Delich (Taupō-Rotorua)
  • Denis Tegg (Thames-Coromandel)
  • Fred Lichtwark (Waikato)
  • Dan Armstrong (Waipā-King Country)

Click here to read the full responses from all Waikato Regional Council candidates.

Science and public health

Hamilton has a reputation for electing local body politicians that promote dangerous pseudo-science. Climate change denial has hampered our efforts to deal with the climate emergency; vaccine conspiracy theories have contributed to Hamilton’s potentially deadly measles outbreak; and Hamilton’s dalliance with fluoride removal will have caused serious harm to our tamariki’s dental health. We don’t expect councillors to be scientists, but we do expect them to respect the scientific consensus. We salute the following candidates for having excellent stances on science:

  • Peter Humphreys (Hamilton East)
  • Tim Young (Hamilton East)
  • Kesh Naidoo-Rauf (Hamilton East)
  • Maxine van Oosten (Hamilton East)
  • Mark Bunting (Hamilton East)
  • Anna Smart (Hamilton East)
  • Rob Pascoe (Hamilton East)
  • Meleane​ Burgess (Hamilton East)
  • Sarah Thomson (Hamilton West)
  • Louise Hutt (mayor and Hamilton West)
  • Martin Gallagher (Hamilton West)
  • Andrew King (mayor)

“The science shows that vaccines do not cause autism. The world is facing multiple outbreaks of diseases that we had eliminated, because individuals and so-called experts have misunderstood science and have then encouraged others to follow their poor decision, putting millions of people’s lives at risk around the world. When I worked in Manila, I encountered first-hand a huge measles outbreak due to a significant reduction in vaccinations — having someone sitting around the council table with these anti-vaccine views would be a clear and present danger.” – Ewan Wilson (Hamilton West)

Police harassment and stigmatisation

“As a city, we are only as strong as our most vulnerable.” – Kesh Naidoo-Rauf (Hamilton East)

Most of the candidates demonstrated naivety about how Hamilton bylaws and security guards contribute to police harassment and reduced safety for people sleeping in public, people asking for money, and sex workers

Several candidates said they would need more information before making a decision on how they would vote. This was disappointing as the Hamilton City Council website hosts submissions on these bylaws from experts such as Methodist City Action, the AIDS Foundation, Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa, Hamilton Homeless Trust and the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Most candidates were given several weeks to answer the questions, and elected councillors will need to assess submissions and make their mind up about how to vote on a wide range of issues in a much shorter time-frame. Both bylaws mentioned in the questionnaire will be voted on by the council in the next few months, but only 24% of candidates would tell us how they would vote on the sex worker bylaw. Voters have a right to know how their politicians will vote before they are elected.

However we would like to commend the following candidates for their excellent answers to these questions:

  • Louise Hutt (Hamilton West and mayor)
  • Sarah Thomson (Hamilton West)
  • Peter Humphreys (Hamilton East)

Big ups to Peter Humphreys (Hamilton East), who was the only candidate to mention that homeless people should be consulted on council policy. We were also pleased with the number of people who supported the Housing First initiative.

Public transport

Climate change will bring large numbers of new residents to Hamilton and require the city to substantially reduce reliance on fossil fuels. We asked the mayoral candidates if they had a transformational plan to move Hamilton residents away from car ownership. None had one but that may be because they didn’t want to make promises that would be difficult to keep. A transformational plan would need substantial buy-in from the Waikato Regional Council, other Hamilton councillors, and central government.

We asked all candidates what would make public transport more workable for them. Some candidates showed a poor understanding of the current predicament, and a lack of imagination for what the city of the future could be. Some of the good suggestions were:

“Free buses for all those with a Community Service Card” – Peter Humphreys (Hamilton East)

“More Kirsty Kerbs” – Tim Young (Hamilton East)

“Greater frequency and less complicated routes” – Mark Bunting (Hamilton East)

“More incentives to get me out of my car, so cheaper prices for tickets” – Matthew Small (Hamilton East)

“It starts by valuing the employees.  When employees love their job then that feeling permeates.” – Melaina Huaki (Hamilton West)

“Frequency, connectedness, reliability and cost are all key factors in making public transport a more attractive option, which will require investment … Increasing the number of bus shelters to help maintain ridership in bad weather and provide somewhere for people to sit; More bus lanes! This would make buses faster and more reliable during peak times. Public transport has major benefits for cities – social, economic and environmental.” – Sarah Thomson (Hamilton West)

There has been a lot of research into the factors that cause people to lose faith in public transport and switch to using a car. The top of the list is always reliability. Waikato’s public transport system is notoriously unreliable, but only three candidates mentioned reliability as a factor; Louise Hutt, Paula Southgate, and Sarah Thomson.


Kirikiriroa is facing a housing crisis, which is leading to poverty, food insecurity, stress, health issues, instability, and increased returns for landlords. A report released this week concluded that Hamilton has the third least affordable housing in Aotearoa. Some candidates considered this to be someone else’s problem, but our top-ranked candidates offered thoughtful and well-researched solutions.
“Social housing means people can have long-term tenancies and ensures high-quality housing. It would also kickstart development in higher density, residential parts of the city – we’re going to grow by 20,000 people in the next ten years, so our need for housing isn’t going away anytime soon.” – Louise Hutt (mayor and Hamilton West)

Voting system

Most candidates said they support Hamilton City moving to the much fairer and representative Single Transferable Vote (STV) voting system.

“It will encourage a more diverse range of candidates and elected members, will result in fewer ‘wasted’ votes, and will give voters real choices (because they don’t need to be concerned about vote splitting).” – Sarah Thomson (Hamilton West)

Street names

Most candidates were open to changing the names of Grey Street, Bryce Street and Von Tempsky Street. We are concerned that some candidates, including incumbent councillors, misunderstood what mana whenua meant. Also of concern was incumbent Rob Pascoe’s semi-incoherent talk-back style rant.

“There are more than 3 street names that should be changed.” – Melaina Huaki (Hamilton West)

Living wage

We were surprised by how many incumbents were confused about the living wage and about how low-income earners survive in Hamilton. 

Kudos to these Hamilton City Council candidates for fully supporting the living wage:

  • Paula Southgate (mayor)
  • Peter Humphreys (Hamilton East)
  • Tim Young (Hamilton East)
  • Maxine van Oosten (Hamilton East)
  • Brad Hills (Hamilton East)
  • Meleane​ Burgess (Hamilton East)
  • Sarah Thomson (Hamilton West)
  • Louise Hutt (Hamilton West and mayor)
  • Dave Macpherson​​ (Hamilton West)
  • Peter Bos (Hamilton West)
  • Ewan Wilson (Hamilton West)
  • Martin Gallagher (Hamilton West)

“Hamilton City Council should be a leader in our community. They have a social responsibility to address inequality, and the payment of a Living Wage is a tangible action the Council can take.” – Maxine van Oosten (Hamilton East)

Some Waikato Regional Council incumbents were surprised to hear that there were still several direct employees earning less than the living wage, and some showed disturbing attitudes towards paying students properly.

For example incumbent Dal Minogue (Thames-Coromandel) told us that “direct employees of the Waikato Regional Council are paid at least the minimum wage.” We discovered that some direct employees are being paid only 18.50 an hour, so we followed up with him. He told us this was “normal practice as students have other means of financial assistance and are unlikely to have to support a family or deal with home ownership costs etc.” We found this alarming as many students support families and have precarious livelihoods. A recent study found that 17 percent of tertiary students can’t afford food. Many students struggle to pay ever-increasing rent, so saying they don’t have home ownership costs is particularly insulting. Low wages and precarious working conditions contribute to student poverty, and councils should be leading by example by paying workers enough to live on.


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30 September 2019 : Answers from one of the candidates have been removed due to a threat of defamation proceedings.

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