Guest Writer

Q&A with councillor Mark Peters

Councillor Mark Peters is seeking a second term standing for the Blenheim Ward- he has a lot he still wants to achieve.

What prompted your decision to stand for council and was it a difficult decision to make?

I have a lot of unfinished work from having served just one term and believe I can make worthwhile contributions in a second term. It wasn’t difficult to decide to do so.

If successful, what matters the most to you in terms of what you would like to achieve for the community?

Really good financial governance is important to me. I cannot abide waste or unnecessary expenditure. I want to see a vibrant CBD in Blenheim, wise use of our precious resources, appropriate care for the environment, really good post-secondary options for our young people and economic growth to help all Marlborough people.

I want our rates to be fairly set with minimal rises and spent wisely for the best possible outcomes.

What areas do you feel council needs to refocus its energies on?

This past term has seen a well settled and committed Council. So, with a number of new faces to be welcomed in the next term it is important to continue an environment where everyone is able to say what they feel, debate issues strongly but accept collective responsibility for democratic conclusions reached.

We need to ensure completion of our programmes of capital works on budget and to make real inroads into mitigating factors in climate change. We must ensure we have great facilities and sustainable resource use to hand over to future generations.

What makes you proud to be a Marlburian?

Not only does Marlborough have outstanding natural beauty, great resources and some world class products, the people here are kind and inclusive. We tend to deal with things pragmatically, even if we have different views and we like to give everyone a fair go.

People have a lot of choice in who they vote for, why should they vote for you?

Because I care about this place and its people. I have many years of practical governance experience and hold a number of financial qualifications. I am totally committed to making Marlborough an even better place to live in and believe I can make a difference.


Rick Ireland. Photo: Supplied.

OPINION: Mayoral candidate Rick Ireland

Rick Ireland is pledging to curb rates if elected.

I’m standing for mayor because rates are increasing every year and are becoming unaffordable for those on fixed incomes, those on lower incomes, and young families just starting out.

Rates are being driven up by massive borrowing which must be paid by the ratepayer. Back in 2005, the Council debt was less than $2 million which wasn’t unreasonable. Now, according to the council, the debt is around $48 million.

In addition, the council has demanded dividends from mainly Port Marlborough, for which Port Marlborough has apparently had to borrow in order to pay. One way to look at this is that the council has been shifting its debt off its own balance sheet and onto other balance sheets.

The council asserts that it’s in good financial health, but then forecasts a total debt peaking in three years at an eye-watering $270 million. This will have to be paid for and the ratepayers will be on the hook. Just the interest, even in these economically benign times, will cost ratepayers about $1 million. Per month.

If the head winds come, and, as most of us know, the head winds will always come, it won’t matter who Marlborough elects to council. The rate increases will go out regardless. There won’t be any choice.

We may buy nice furniture for our homes but we’re all very careful about it because we know it must be paid for. And we’re all unimpressed with those who just stick it on the credit card and then sit at their nice new table wondering how it all went so wrong. The council should be no different.

The debt must not be increased but be reduced. If I’m elected, it will be. As a result, there’ll be no pressure to keep raising the rates. No more elderly people wondering if they should turn the heater off or spending a little less food because their rate demand has increased. No more young families spreading their finances ever thinner because the rates go up far faster than their income increases. No more “credit card spending”.

However, the council does need to spend money in the district. We should do it the old-fashioned way. Attract more people and businesses to Marlborough which will increase revenue, and then wait until we can afford it.

Changes are now in place to revolutionise the delivery of junior rugby across the top of the south. Photo: Shuttersport.

Rugby for all, not just elite young players

The Tasman Rugby Union recently announced there would be no representative teams at under-15 level and below this season. CEO Tony Lewis explains the underlying reasons for the change, and the research on which the decision was based.   

Our decision was made in response to concerns about elitism and high-performance rugby programmes at junior level, the negativity of non-selection, the coaching process and the declining participation from this age group.

It was based on a business case developed by TRU staff and a considerable body of research that suggests children’s sport is increasingly driven by adults’ ambitions.

Playing JAB and age grade rugby has clear social, physical and mental health benefits for children, but evidence illustrates that youth sports in NZ society have become increasingly controlled and regulated by adults, which takes out the fun for many children.

An in-depth study was undertaken with all stakeholders including, most importantly, the young playing group themselves, including those players who were or were not selected, in our representative teams.

We have received mainly positive feedback from our stakeholders, although the real proof will be the delivery of the new programmes. Some responses fell back on the argument that political correctness had gone mad, a common response that tends to close off any meaningful debate.

Tony Lewis. Photo: Supplied.
Tony Lewis. Photo: Supplied.

There were some people who believe that this decision will effectively close off a “career pathway”. Seriously, the only pathways kids should be on until well into their teens are footpaths. The idea that a 12-year-old is on the pathway to a professional sports career is ridiculous and speaks only to parental obsession, not reality.

This year the Mako Development camps, which replace the rep programmes, will start on Sunday, July 28, with all the Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup players involved in the delivery. In what I believe is a NZ rugby first, our camps will be for both male and female.

The TRU based its decision on research over the last three years that shows young people play rugby primarily to have fun and play with their mates; to receive good coaching and good refereeing; to play in a meaningful competition and for the sheer joy and exhilaration it provides.

What will surprise many is the fact that that winning hardly received a mention.

Adolescence is the time most associated with drop out from sport with a commonly-cited reason being that sport stops being “fun”.

In the US, researcher Amanda Visek found that “fun” for children meant up to 81 different things. “Getting compliments from coaches” was No 1, “Playing well during a game” was ranked second and “Winning” came in at No 30.

The TRU have implemented positive changes over the past couple of seasons following feedback from local players of various ages, genders, and experience levels on what they want out of the game – namely, meaningful competition, development (learning new skills) and enjoyment.

Bold changes by the TRU involve removing the structures that encourage a ‘win-at-all-cost’ mentality, while emphasising and expanding on the reasons kids play sport in the first instance.

Some of these changes include:

  • Eliminating big score blow outs (cricket scores) by implementing a win/loss points system, removing point differentials.
  • Encouraging meaningful competition by introducing a bylaw that allows team management to work together to create a competitively balanced, enjoyable game.
  • Introducing an exciting 3-4 week ‘TRU Cup’ to conclude the season, giving all teams the chance to win the grade.
  • Another positive initiative has involved Tasman Rugby rewarding fair play and sportsmanship with prizes.

These changes have had a positive effect on the delivery of teenage rugby in the region and is a step in the right direction to a greater understanding on how coaches, managers, and administrators can deliver rugby.

This was backed up by the following statistics – 60 percent of coaches and managers saw an improvement in sideline and player behaviour from 2017-2018 (Age Grade Survey), 80 percent of referees reported  an improvement in player and sideline behaviour (2018 Referee Report) and there was a 38 percent decrease in yellow and red cards issued due to improved player behaviour (2018 Card Tracker).

A key focus was to inform parents, coaches, teachers and volunteers through the clubs and schools that rugby are putting structures in place to ensure a quality sporting experience for a young person every time they play. Representative teams at early ages have often been associated with over-the-top adult behaviour and selection biases.

It is the belief of the TRU that there is a need for a culture change in rugby if we want to grow our game and make it a game for all in the Top of the South.

We should never forget that junior rugby is the children’s game, not ours.