Waikato District mayoral race heats up

Current Waikato District Deputy Mayor Aksel Bech and wāhine Māori Korikori Hawkins will run for mayor in this year’s local elections.

Waikato District Council mayoral candidate Korikori Hawkins says she is ready to lead the council, adding that her experience and connection to whenua will be an asset.
Photo: Supplied / LDR / Korikori Hawkins

Bech announced his candidacy for the top job earlier this year after Mayor Allan Sanson revealed he was stepping down from political office.

Now wāhine Māori Korikori Hawkins has entered the race.

“My key messages are to invest in our people, our land, our waterways, our homes and our roads,” Korikori said.

She planned to invest in job opportunities, grow small businesses and create safer communities.

“I plan to invest in job opportunities. I got my first job at 16 in a local sewing factory, a subsidiary of an Auckland company. This opportunity prepared me for life. I went on to a successful career in counseling and social work and returned home to own and operate the RiverBed Motel.”

“I am fully invested in growing small businesses in our district,” she said.

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She also held to the campaign promise to build relationships that resulted in the protection and cleaning of waterways.

“I am also interested in water safety, especially in and around our awa tupuna. Two young lives have been taken since I returned home six years ago. Two lives, too.”

Korikori emphasized building safety in communities.

“I plan to support and encourage housing developments, especially in the papakāinga area. I am aware of three papakāinga projects in my home town that are in the construction stage. It is a concept that I ‘d like to see growth in our district, particularly in whaanau’s engagement with the council, and I also plan to invest in the revitalization of CBD spaces in our district.

Following in the footsteps of her whānau who led her people for many years, she credited his guidance and inspirational wisdom for moving forward.

“It all started with my father, Tauke James Kirkwood, a frosty worker who served two terms as a councilor on Ngaaruawaahia Borough Council in the 1970s. Dad was one of four whaanau I know from my marae , Turangawaewae. The last being Aunt Moera Solomon.”

Korikori contested for mayor in 2019 against Allan Sanson and Simon Thomson.

Bech, 57, of Danish descent, who emigrated to New Zealand aged 14, has served on the board since 2016.

He believes he has what it takes to operate as mayor in a district that faces significant issues, including the proposed Three Waters reforms.

Waikato District Deputy Mayor Aksel Bech will also contest this year's mayoralty, with current mayor Allan Sanson stepping down.  Credit: Waikato District Council.

Waikato District Deputy Mayor Aksel Bech will also contest this year’s mayoralty, with current mayor Allan Sanson stepping down.
Photo: Supplied / Waikato District Council

He said he had the experience to draw on, including as owner of major stainless steel manufacturer NDA Engineering, and extensive experience in strategy and planning.

Bech recognized the council’s hard work to facilitate community building and is proud to have been part of the leadership team driving the vision of creating livable, connected and thriving communities.

His vision was to have a place where all people can be housed, including facilitating and supporting affordable housing initiatives.

Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air

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