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Elections - Important to understand local people and issues

An interest in the environment and broad work experience offer a connection to the community writes Northland Regional Council Coastal South candidate David Lourie.

I was spurred on to stand for the Northland Regional Council (NRC) when it removed its precautionary approach for the protection of Northland from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This happened when the NRC decided to leave out a prohibitive and precautionary approach to the release of GMOs from the proposed regional plan, showing disrespect and disregard to all of the community groups who submitted on the issue.

I was born in Whangarei, did my early education there and bonded to this area. I returned to settle there to be part of a community after working on fishing boats when I had saved enough for a deposit for my place.

After getting a degree in Horticultural Science most of my working life has been hands-on in the primary and food industries and the last 15 years saw me employed as a maintenance fitter on shutdowns at Marsden Point Oil Refinery, Glenbrook steel mill and Kinleith pulp mill. I have had a broad range of other work experiences on farms, and industry that has enabled me to empathise with, and respect, a wide range of people.

What I have learned from working in heavy industries is that constant exposure to hazards means a precautionary approach to all tasks is the norm. Every task requires a risk assessment. To have a safe workplace requires intervention to prevent a hazard from causing harm. To prevent hazards from causing environmental harm, precautionary principles need to be actioned by representative government. This is not such a giant leap in logic considering it is a requirement under current legislation. 

That realisation motivated me to join the local environmental groups upon my return with whom I learned about the local issues. This provided me with direct experience of the processes when working with local government, airing concerns and making changes. These were group efforts that harnessed the input of numerous people, including key figures who spearheaded campaigns. 

Though I considered further environmental education I preferred to participate in the submission and hearing processes that gave me a range of practical experience while honing my abilities by working alongside people with many years of experience.

It is important for Northland to adapt to the changes that are happening in a way that creates opportunities while protecting and enhancing the things that we value. We want clean water in our streams, rivers and aquifers. We want a healthy and productive marine environment. We want our landscapes and biodiversity to be treated with respect. We want to continue the good work that is being done to be supported in ways that build inclusive communities.
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