Save the dates. Join us at our candidate debates

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Quick-fire questions, challenging scenarios, and crowd-sourced queries are all part of the dynamic plan to get to know candidates a bit better this election.

In a first for the District, Western Bay of Plenty District Council is running a Meet the Candidate Debate series, featuring one debate for each ward (Katikati-Waihī Beach, Kaimai, Maketu-Te Puke) and the Mayoralty. Be sure to block out your evenings from 6pm Monday 29 August to Thursday 1 September.

Rethinking the traditional political debate format, these events form part of Council’s Generation Change / He panoni ā reanga campaign focused on engaging all members of the community in a bid to help voters get to know who’s standing in this year’s elections.

Residents will play the role of inquisitor, and can use these events to lift the lid on where candidates’ values lie or ask about pressing matters for their wards. An invite is coming next week for the community to submit questions in advance of each debate. The questions will be grouped into themes and a handful will then be selected by Council – and posed to the candidates on the night of the debates.

Members of the audience (in person and online) will also be able to influence what they want to hear from candidates on, live during the debate. An online voting system based on question themes will run throughout the night with the highest-voted theme informing the final question. Those unable to attend in person can still tune in and take part via livestream on Council’s YouTube channel or generationchange.nz.

We won’t be shying away from hot topics – you can expect to see candidates being asked about their stance on Three Waters reform, housing and growth, and co-governance with tangata whenua.

“These debates are about ensuring everyone gets to know who is standing and wanting to represent them for the next three years,” says Council CEO John Holyoake.

“We’re making it worthwhile for all voters, whether they’re politically motivated or more interested in the values a candidate stands for. We’ll be incorporating questions that not only showcase candidates’ stances on important matters such as Three Waters reform and climate change – but also putting them on the spot to show their personality and passion for the District,” he adds.

The debates are being hosted early in the campaigning process to ensure the community has plenty of time to learn about each candidate. They’ll also have a valuable resource to refer to when voting papers arrive from 16 September, as all Meet the

Candidates Debates will be published on generationchange.nz and Council’s YouTube channel.

The events also present an opportunity for budding politicians and civic-minded students to get onboard, as each ward debate is being hosted at its local school.

“We’re looking to partner with local high schools and our host schools to ensure tamariki and rangatahi can be involved in this process. The next generation will inherit the decisions our elected members make now, so it seems only fitting we invite them along and present them with an opportunity to ask questions and host the events,” says John.

Meet the Candidate Debates all start at 6pm:

  • 29 August, Katikati-Waihī Beach Ward, Katikati Primary School (to add this event to your calendar go here)
  • 30 August, Kaimai Ward, Pahoia School (to add this event to your calendar go here)
  • 31 August, Te Puke-Maketu Ward, Te Puke High School (to add this event to your calendar go here)
  • 1 September, Mayor Debates, University of Waikato, Tauranga, Lecture Theatre, Level 2 (to add this event to your calendar go here)

No registration is required to attend the debates.

For more information on elections and the debates go to generationchange.nz

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