• Video: Controversial local Destiny Church pastor to stand in Hastings District Council by-election

Video: Controversial local Destiny Church pastor to stand in Hastings District Council by-election

Outspoken local Destiny Church Pastor Michael Ngahuka, who was at the forefront of recent protests against a Drag Queen story time event, has formally put in his nomination for a Hastings District Council by-election.

Ngahuka will contest the Takitimu Māori ward against Iron Māori founder Heather Te Au-Skipworth and Jason Whaitiri, the brother of former Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP, Meka Whaitiri. This is the second time he is standing for the Hastings District Council, while he also stood in the Tukituki electorate in last year’s general election.

In an interview with Hawke’s Bay App, Ngahuka said he was hoping that this would a case of third time lucky.

“Previously I stood for the Tukituki electorate to be an MP, and also the Flaxmere Ward in the previous elections for council. And just like then, my values haven't changed. It's about standing up for families, for our community, for our people of Hawke's Bay, Hastings and putting myself forward as a valid leader to hopefully share that privilege of helping lead our community.”

“I definitely gained a lot of experience and growth just by standing in those two previous elections. And I'm hopeful that this will be very different. I've got a better supportive team around me. Not that I'm saying they weren't good then, but from those previous standings, I've actually rallied up a few other supporters that I didn't know who are happy to volunteer and help me with my campaign.”

Ngahuka believes that he is “going to make a huge difference” to the Council.

“One thing from my standing last year and the public, the community and the groups that I was speaking at in the events, the feedback I was getting is that you're honest, you're integral, and what you see is what you get.”

“And this is again, the feedback and that's what we want. And for me as well as not only standing for a leadership role in the council or any civic authority position, me as a part of the community, that's the sort of person I want to represent myself. Someone that is not just about politics, but it's about people.”

As a builder by trade, as well as being Pastor of the local Destiny Church, Ngahuka says that the main issue he is standing on is the Cyclone Gabrielle recovery.

“The main issues that I'm going to be standing on is the flood recovery. That's number one. I've got four key points that I'm looking at really standing on and championing. That's the flood recovery. That's going to take years. It's not just about the financial impact, although that is huge. It's about the spiritual, the mental, the social impacts as well. So that's issue one.”

“The other one is housing. I'm a qualified builder, and so housing is really important. I believe every family deserves to have a home. And right now, it's quite pricey, it's hard for families to get a home. So I really want to champion that.”

The third issue he will be championing is rates.

“With the whole impact financially with the cyclone, the rates are only going to go up, so we need to figure out some kind of, or champion a way forward where we can unlock our region's economic potential, but help the rate situation.”

“And the last one, which I'm very passionate about is our youth. So I know I went on a bit there. So flood recovery, housing, rates and youth, rangatahi.”

Asked how he would achieve these ambitious goals, Ngahuka said: “One thing I've learned is being a leader is that you've got to learn to work with teams, with people that are brighter and smarter than you and work to get solutions.”

“Our win is really about solving the problem. And I know this is a by-election, and so I've got to be realistic. I think there's only a year and a half left of the term, and these problems may not get solved in a year, but if I do get in, and I'm hoping I get in, in my time that I'm there, we have to at least put the starting blocks in place so that we can begin to move forward on those.”

Ngahuka has recently found himself in opposition to the Hastings Council with regard to its promotion of a Drag Queen story time event at the local public library, but he was in conciliatory mood in the Hawke’s Bay App interview recently.

“In regard to if I think about the issues that I'm standing on, I think our council, I've always said this, I thought we've had a great... I think we have a great council.”

“The whole cyclone was a big hit to our region and the Hastings District. And yes, I could say so many pros and cons about it, but I thought they still did well.”

He said that there were many learnings to take from what has happened.

“I know our council has unlocked many housing development opportunities. It's just, again, around the nuts and bolts around the developers and making sure it works out financially. Rates are always going to be an issue. And with the cyclone, the hit there and the financial impact, the three waters and all this sort of stuff, the council are in a bit of a tough spot, if that makes sense.”

“I think the council maybe need to be a bit more creative, go outside the normal paradigm of how they do things so they can come up with creative solutions to these problems.”

With regard to rates, Ngahuka said: “It's a balance of how much funding does the council put towards some of the services and the needs that are real needs and really important to our community versus how are we going to pay for that?”

“Because it always comes down to that, how are these things going to be paid for? We want great facilities, we want people to have access to all the services that council can provide, but someone has to pay for it.”

Watch the accompanying video to see the full interview with Michael Ngahuka

Andrew Austin – Editor, Hawke’s Bay App – andrew@hbapp.co.nz