Straight-shooting district councillor

Roger Haisman is firm in his views and prepares to officially take his leave.

Roger Haisman is firm in his views and prepares to officially take his leave.

END OF AN ERA: Roger Haisman called time this election year on a district council tenure dating back to 2001. The forthright Waikohu then Patutahi-Taruheru ward representative said he would miss the council “in some ways” but felt it was time for a change. Among the personal highlights of his time are his role in the dropping of a planned landfill at Mander Road, helping convince the council to sell the port company to Eastland Community Trust, chairing the group that prepared a disabled accessibility policy and being a strong voice for the rural sector. Picture by Liam Clayton

TURNING the first sod on the site of the new Motu Bridge would have been a sweet moment for just-retired district councillor Roger Haisman.

It was one of a number of battles he faced in his time on the council as a man who was unashamedly proud to represent the rural sector and in his opinion brought some sense to an organisation he felt often needed a touch of realism.

Haisman is Gisborne born and bred.

Father Eddie had a town supply dairy farm before moving to the Motu area where Haisman junior, after serving his apprenticeship as a builder, eventually ended up farming for 35 years before moving to his present orchard at Makauri.

He still has land at Otoko.

Mr Haisman was the meat and wool sector chairman and then president of Gisborne Wairoa Federated Farmers, which he felt was a perfect lead-up to joining the council.

After three terms representing Waikohu ward he moved six years ago to the Patutahi-Taruheru ward.

He remembers starting “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as a new councillor when a senior bank official told them the debt level was too high.

“As a farmer when your bank manager tells you your debt is too high you panic,” he said.

The debt now is at what he considers a manageable level.

Then there are the battles he fought.

Probably the biggest was the issue of a planned landfill at Mander Road that had cost $5 million in investigations and land purchase.

Mr Haisman was against this and wrote a report showing it was not needed. That was ignored until the council got a new chief engineer, Peter Higgs, who told them exactly what Mr Haisman had said.

The upshot was that the landfill plan was dropped, Gisborne’s refuse is now trucked to Paeroa and it has one of the cheapest rubbish collection systems in the country.

It costs $2 to have rubbish taken away from your gate, half the cost of a cup of coffee.

“I still have that report,” he says.

Government endowment

Another cause was keeping the ownership of the Tauwhareparae Farms, which were a government endowment to the district.

The port company came to the council and wanted to sell the farms to pay for port development.

He and similar-minded rural councillors Bill Burdett and Pat Seymour convinced the council to sell the port to the Eastland Community Trust.

“No one would doubt the wisdom of that decision now,” he said. “The port is run on a commercial basis and we still have the farms.”

One issue that has not been resolved is how the city’s wastewater will be disposed. A wetlands system is being trialled but Mr Haisman firmly believes there is no need to stop using the outfall pipe.

The BTF plant installed to deal with the wastewater had been more successful than people expected and scientific analysis had shown that it was removing between 96 and 99 percent of human DNA, he said.

Meeting Maori needs

The only reason the wetlands were being considered were cultural ones to meet the demands of Maori.

Wetlands would cover between 50 and 60 hectares of the most fertile land on the Flats and the cost of pumping the wastewater from the plant there would be extreme, he said.

The council has a crunch decision to make in December — the deadline for it to make an application to extend its resource consent.

Another decision will be whether to go ahead with the recharging of the Makauri Aquifer. Mr Haisman is a strong supporter, and he says it has more potential to lift the district’s economy than anything else.

One of the biggest disappointments for him was the decision of the local government electoral commission four years ago to reduce the number of rural councillors from five to four.

This was a silly decision that took no account of the huge areas that rural councillors were responsible for.

While he accepted that the majority of the rates came from the city, the rates paid by individual rural properties were many thousands of dollars higher.

Accessibility policy

One thing he was proud of was chairing the group formed to prepare an accessibility policy for the council.

It was good to be able to help people with disabilities.

“We got this policy within six months. It usually takes up to two years to get any policy for this council,” he said.

Mr Haisman was a qualified hearings chairman but resigned from that committee on a point of principle because of political interference that overturned the decision that had been made on the application to decline a resource consent for the Citrus Grove development at Makaraka.

He still strongly believes that decision was right and has been supported by the fact the development has never gone ahead.

The formation of the unitary district council 27 years ago was not a good thing for rural people, he said.

At the time it happened, Waikohu County Council had $1 million available for rural roads and a stockpile of road metal ready to put on the Te Wera Road. That was taken away.

Since then, rural people had to put up with roads that were little better than Third World standard.

Nothing had been spent on the rural townships until comparatively recently.

“People should remember that this district is based on rural production,” he said.

For this reason he is optimistic about its future.

“By 2050 the world’s food production is going to have to double and it will have to come from districts like this.”

For that reason he believes that eventually there will be virtually no pine trees on hill country in this district because the land will be able to produce high-quality protein that will be more valuable.

He feels the same about the wine industry, saying that grapes will be replaced by horticulture.

Claims that tourism will be a major driver of the economy fall flat with him.

“Until you see busloads of tourists pulling up outside hotels, there will not be a real tourism industry here.

“If someone is coming here for a wedding or a funeral, are they really a tourist?”

While he feels it is time for a change Mr Haisman admits he will miss the council in some ways.

Certainly the council will miss him.

TURNING the first sod on the site of the new Motu Bridge would have been a sweet moment for just-retired district councillor Roger Haisman.

It was one of a number of battles he faced in his time on the council as a man who was unashamedly proud to represent the rural sector and in his opinion brought some sense to an organisation he felt often needed a touch of realism.

Haisman is Gisborne born and bred.

Father Eddie had a town supply dairy farm before moving to the Motu area where Haisman junior, after serving his apprenticeship as a builder, eventually ended up farming for 35 years before moving to his present orchard at Makauri.

He still has land at Otoko.

Mr Haisman was the meat and wool sector chairman and then president of Gisborne Wairoa Federated Farmers, which he felt was a perfect lead-up to joining the council.

After three terms representing Waikohu ward he moved six years ago to the Patutahi-Taruheru ward.

He remembers starting “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as a new councillor when a senior bank official told them the debt level was too high.

“As a farmer when your bank manager tells you your debt is too high you panic,” he said.

The debt now is at what he considers a manageable level.

Then there are the battles he fought.

Probably the biggest was the issue of a planned landfill at Mander Road that had cost $5 million in investigations and land purchase.

Mr Haisman was against this and wrote a report showing it was not needed. That was ignored until the council got a new chief engineer, Peter Higgs, who told them exactly what Mr Haisman had said.

The upshot was that the landfill plan was dropped, Gisborne’s refuse is now trucked to Paeroa and it has one of the cheapest rubbish collection systems in the country.

It costs $2 to have rubbish taken away from your gate, half the cost of a cup of coffee.

“I still have that report,” he says.

Government endowment

Another cause was keeping the ownership of the Tauwhareparae Farms, which were a government endowment to the district.

The port company came to the council and wanted to sell the farms to pay for port development.

He and similar-minded rural councillors Bill Burdett and Pat Seymour convinced the council to sell the port to the Eastland Community Trust.

“No one would doubt the wisdom of that decision now,” he said. “The port is run on a commercial basis and we still have the farms.”

One issue that has not been resolved is how the city’s wastewater will be disposed. A wetlands system is being trialled but Mr Haisman firmly believes there is no need to stop using the outfall pipe.

The BTF plant installed to deal with the wastewater had been more successful than people expected and scientific analysis had shown that it was removing between 96 and 99 percent of human DNA, he said.

Meeting Maori needs

The only reason the wetlands were being considered were cultural ones to meet the demands of Maori.

Wetlands would cover between 50 and 60 hectares of the most fertile land on the Flats and the cost of pumping the wastewater from the plant there would be extreme, he said.

The council has a crunch decision to make in December — the deadline for it to make an application to extend its resource consent.

Another decision will be whether to go ahead with the recharging of the Makauri Aquifer. Mr Haisman is a strong supporter, and he says it has more potential to lift the district’s economy than anything else.

One of the biggest disappointments for him was the decision of the local government electoral commission four years ago to reduce the number of rural councillors from five to four.

This was a silly decision that took no account of the huge areas that rural councillors were responsible for.

While he accepted that the majority of the rates came from the city, the rates paid by individual rural properties were many thousands of dollars higher.

Accessibility policy

One thing he was proud of was chairing the group formed to prepare an accessibility policy for the council.

It was good to be able to help people with disabilities.

“We got this policy within six months. It usually takes up to two years to get any policy for this council,” he said.

Mr Haisman was a qualified hearings chairman but resigned from that committee on a point of principle because of political interference that overturned the decision that had been made on the application to decline a resource consent for the Citrus Grove development at Makaraka.

He still strongly believes that decision was right and has been supported by the fact the development has never gone ahead.

The formation of the unitary district council 27 years ago was not a good thing for rural people, he said.

At the time it happened, Waikohu County Council had $1 million available for rural roads and a stockpile of road metal ready to put on the Te Wera Road. That was taken away.

Since then, rural people had to put up with roads that were little better than Third World standard.

Nothing had been spent on the rural townships until comparatively recently.

“People should remember that this district is based on rural production,” he said.

For this reason he is optimistic about its future.

“By 2050 the world’s food production is going to have to double and it will have to come from districts like this.”

For that reason he believes that eventually there will be virtually no pine trees on hill country in this district because the land will be able to produce high-quality protein that will be more valuable.

He feels the same about the wine industry, saying that grapes will be replaced by horticulture.

Claims that tourism will be a major driver of the economy fall flat with him.

“Until you see busloads of tourists pulling up outside hotels, there will not be a real tourism industry here.

“If someone is coming here for a wedding or a funeral, are they really a tourist?”

While he feels it is time for a change Mr Haisman admits he will miss the council in some ways.

Certainly the council will miss him.

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winston moreton - 3 years ago
Good story about a county hero.

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