Banter and by-elections

John Robson, Lester Gray, Mark Wassung and Sam Gardner at last night's live by-election debate.

Click the image above to watch the video

It was a night full of banter, big personalities and everything by-election last night at No.1 The Strand. 

The reason for the occasion being Sun Media’s live by-election debate, which saw candidates standing for Tauranga City Council’s ‘At Large’ seat, going head-to-head. 

The vacancy of the position follows the passing of the late Gail McIntosh, a former city councillor. 

Fourteen out of 20 candidates and their support people packed out the venue, each bringing their own expertise, passion, and their word on why they will make the best candidate. 

Many heated arguments were witnessed by viewers who joined the live stream online at 

Discussions about rates, traffic, parking, Maori wards and museums were just some of the many topics covered during last night’s debate – questions that you, as readers had told us you wanted to hear from the candidates. 

If you missed the live stream you can see it above.


We have a deal, Jayleen

Posted on 27-04-2018 09:32 | By R. Bell

although I enter it just for fun. I am far more concerned with the culture of most comments on here. Generalisations such as those aimed at former councils plus the almost immediate criticism of the current council, with no actual detail or proof are self defeating, cynical nonsense. We , the voters, get what we deserve. Constant unrelenting vague, criticism leads to the inevitable "lowest common denominator" poor representation. Specific, positive criticism encourages other more qualified and visionary people to stand for council and other elected positions. Sadly Mark Wassung is destined for the same fate as his ( maybe ) soon to be partners in council.

No doubt

Posted on 26-04-2018 08:34 | By Shimano

the loyal Tauranga grey votes will roll out in support of those they know. I too lay most of the current mess squarely at the front door of previous councils under the mayorship of Mr. Stuart Crosby. Their combined inability to plan and deliver for a growing Tauranga has given rise to a multitude of overburdened services, facilities and infrastructure. Quite similar in fact to that of a certain political party. It’s angers me that so many of these individuals still have the pomposity to think that only they are the ones that have ’the plan’ for the future.

All good Robin, but here’s my friendly wager

Posted on 25-04-2018 11:47 | By Jayleen Wood

I wager you a really nice 3 course luncheon with an expensive bottle of red wine and a NZD200 donation to a registered charity of your or my choosing that: should a museum on Cliff Road or Willow Street proceed, the overall total project cost (including all costs, for whatever reasons) will exceed NZD70 Million all in. That being nearly a 30% cost blowout on the NZD55 Million budgeted by Tauranga City Council. If the total project cost comes in under NZD70 Million, I loose. It may take some time, so bookmark this article. Do we have an agreement?

Just finished watching --- Great Viewing

Posted on 25-04-2018 00:58 | By Tamati TK

Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry for most of these hopefuls. Could someone who was present at the debate please tell if David Tank was being serious, or was he simply there for a laugh and a few drinks? The surprise for me was Wassung. He smoked this debate good and proper and made the others look like amateurs. He should be running for Mayor not a seat at the council table. We seriously need him there. Go WASSUNG

The truth of the matter.

Posted on 24-04-2018 20:22 | By GrahamTGA

Mark Wassung highlighted some very interesting points concerning councils recent shenanigans, and you can bet that these are just the tip of the iceberg. John Robson found himself quietly having to acknowledge that even on his watch there were millions of dollars repeatedly spent on consultants for what can only be described as sub standard work. A little more pressing confirmed meetings and important decisions relating to the Heart Of The City project were also dubious in nature. Voters have every right to be suspicious and distrustful of councillors past and present as they have, and continue to squander ratepayers money. Geez people, this is bordering on corruption in my book but most voters turn a blind eye, or are not informed of the practices of TCC to know any better. I have no doubt that Mark Wassung will bring more honesty and transparency to council chambers.

Overall view on the night

Posted on 24-04-2018 16:17 | By davetgacentral

After watching the great effort from the Sunlive team (many thanks) i reckon Mark and Lester would make a great team, John Robson has had his turn, we need fresh vision and passion! Gail’s idea of moving the CBD to the mount was ridiculous as was the rambler David Tank. who ever gets the role i hope they do well and looking forward to coverage by SunLive for the general election for Tauranga City council.. Get involved ! :)

Well said JoyceR

Posted on 24-04-2018 15:18 | By AndyCap

Many have been mostly kept in positions or put into new positions by an elderly voting base.

I hear what you say Jayleen,

Posted on 24-04-2018 13:09 | By R. Bell

Open minded thinking is definitely needed in a progressive city. Of course it would be preferable to have a grand 100 million museum. The balance between what is achievable and what is practical and affordable is the challenge. Many see a museum as undesirable, some say modern museums are important attractions.Imagine as a city council trying to satisfy that diversity. I don’t quite understand the criticism of everything council does. Facilities given their very nature are never popular with everyone.Swimming pools only appeal to swimmers, rugby fields to players and watchers, libraries to readers, on and on. It is the diverse nature of a good and successful society, and only council can provide the facilities that are not inherently for profit. Profit making ventures always follow. A $55 mill museum can always be turned into a $100 million one, given the will. Robin Bell.

Dear John Robson,

Posted on 24-04-2018 12:47 | By JoyceR

Apologies, but you lost me the moment you cited that "there is a plan for the city, ask Mr Crosby." Mr. Crosby has had his chance as a mayor of Tauranga for more than ten years! Now that the city is degraded and the transport issues are out of control there is suddenly a plan for change! Lester is right that this is all the same old stuff. In my personal opinion talking about "old boys clubs" and so-called leaders moving from one organisation to another organisation is exactly right. All this perceived experience and leadership has failed Tauranga. I certainly do not want Mr. Crosby anywhere near a future plan for Tauranga.

Hi Robin,

Posted on 23-04-2018 13:35 | By Jayleen Wood

Interestingly, others also favour the idea of a future museum near the water rather than on either of the two currently proposed sites. Just goes to show what a difference a little open minded thinking and vision can have. Unfortunately the track record of recent TCC councils has become the main stumbling block for many people like me, as most things they dish up are looked at with suspicion and mistrust. I think almost all would agree that the performance of TCC has been very poor, I could gladly get behind many of Mark Wassungs ideas and will be voting for him, but I do worry, should he get in, about how much difference he would make in our current council that is so ineffective. Re the museum, I would rather pay 100 million in the future, for something great, rather than 55 million for another ’normal’ half job.

Quote of the evening.........

Posted on 23-04-2018 11:46 | By Babs

We dont want to be average anymore, John. Mark Wassung is a breathe of fresh air, but will he be given any chance within the existing stablishment?

Best & Worst

Posted on 23-04-2018 07:31 | By P0INT BLANK

Best was Mark Wassung... Good local knowledge and some great ideas. Worst was David Tank... Just plain rude and arrogant.

(Third Part) re-worded

Posted on 22-04-2018 18:19 | By NZAdventurer

And then there is the museum which TCC say we must choose between Cliff Road and Willow Street. Were any other locations given a real chance and fully investigated? I’m against both these now because I don’t have any confidence in the current council to deliver anything worthwhile and financially sustainable without massive rates backing. Wassung mentioned a museum near the water, and maybe this could be a winner in years to come. Some form of waterfront location could incorporate marine aspects and other activities such as boat trips, tours and water activities, you name it. Port of Tauranga could sponsor their own indoor and outdoor exhibits, a walk around tug boat tour, a small scale working straddle lift interactive exhibit, who knows what else? Add to this an on site conference facility with water view restaurants, cafes and shops and you are starting to tick the boxes.

Vision is exactly what Tauranga needs!

Posted on 22-04-2018 13:19 | By CountOnMe

So called experience on this, and previous councils has gotten us nowhere. It is time for some vision, combined with sound financial management partnering with as yet untapped private investment. Its a definate no from me for a Cliff Rd or Willow Str museum, but I too am warming up to the idea of a future museum complex near the water. Yes also to inner city apartment style living. Yes to a cruise ship terminal. Yes to many of Wassungs inner city transport hub ideas, and a Yes to lowering and enclosing the rail tracks at the strand. Its a pity we cannot have both Mark Wassung and Neville Saunders on council, as they can contribute greatly to the future of Tauranga. Thank you to SUNLIVE for this debate.

I did have a little chuckle Jayleen.

Posted on 22-04-2018 10:22 | By R. Bell

I actually never thought I could convince you, but am pleased Mark Wassung at least " broke through" I agree with your " get busy, get dying" analogy. A museum will be a big part of realising that. All who love Tauranga can see the sense in that, I hope. Robin Bell.

Good to know.........

Posted on 21-04-2018 21:31 | By groutby

....many had ’tuned in’ to the debate, do remember though the candidates who were not able to attend, give them your consideration as well as the others who did...’ how we can’ is much better than ’we want’...make it realistic and they will vote for you...

(Second Part)

Posted on 21-04-2018 19:15 | By NZAdventurer

On the cruise ship terminal and info centre (or lack thereof), again Mark Wassung touched on the possible use of attractive and modern, fit for purpose movable gangways of good design and functionality (as used by other international ports) - his comments are entirely relevant. After how many years and millions of visiting cruise passengers, do we still herd them like cattle between galvanised steel crowd control barriers on through a shoddy makeshift tent style information centre? Sorry to say, but this is also your baby Port of Tauranga! Your precious kiwifruit coolstore shed locations should have been better planned, knowing that cruise tourism is a major contributor for Tauranga, and a critical, core service of any cruise ship port of call destination. Wake up, and switch the lights on! It is not only Mark Wassung mentioning all this time and time again, others have repeatedly said it too.

Goog going MARK WASSUNG. (Part 1)

Posted on 21-04-2018 16:19 | By NZAdventurer

And keep pushing. For far too long Tauranga has been dominated by a small but influential network of wealthy individuals that cannot grasp Tauranga as anything other than a quiet, easy going town ideal for coastal retirement. They cannot envisage a modern, large scale growing city. Alas, every now and then they think they are doing a fantastic job by tossing out the odd bone for Tauranga residents to chew on in the form of a few hairy dog statues, a teeny weeny pier with some concrete steps and a few lights, a concrete style pop up park on Devonport road (which is a disgrace) and the odd new walkway here and there. I just wish people just stop and think for a minute about how little real progress has been made in spite of all the TCC organisations and groups constantly boasting about growth and a booming Tauranga.

The difference

Posted on 21-04-2018 11:07 | By Accountable

Between candidates is that John Robson will spend what the Council hasn’t got wisely and the rest have shown they will spend what the Council hasn’t got frivolously. There really is only one choice and that is obviously John Robson.

Mark Wassung by a mile

Posted on 21-04-2018 10:37 | By GrahamTGA

but old school Tauranga suffers from acute Tall Poppy syndrome and is stuck in its old ways with the same people going around and around, working the city for their own interests. These types think they know it all, even though they have stagnated Tauranga for 10 years plus. I hope this free thinking fellow gets in, as he is definately what Tauranga needs. You have my vote Mr Wassung.

Time for the next wave

Posted on 20-04-2018 19:14 | By Sg1nz

We can only hope that these ex councillors, that got the city into this situation by ignoring the social and traffic challenges and refusing to invest don’t get a chance to ruin the city for another ten years.

Not a one would I vote for!

Posted on 20-04-2018 17:59 | By nerak

Again, re my previous comments on another page, thanks Sunlive. I spent my afternoon being bored out of my brain listening to all those wannabes, and the only refreshing speaker was Sam Gardiner! Really, candidates, what a sorry lot, from poetry to extremely rude interruptions, not one of you earned a tick from me. I wonder if I can place my tick on one of those who did not show up last night, if not, I might have to become a late runner! Sunlive, you gave the ratepayers a great chance to make up their minds last night.

@ TAURANGA - love our lifestyle city

Posted on 20-04-2018 17:39 | By MISS ADVENTURE

That sounds lovely, sadly the last thing we need more of it politicians saying nice and sweet things that then simply fall into the groove. You will need to look a lot harder and definitiely deeper to determine the actual abilities and substance of a candiate. Could I suggest "fortitude" is a good place to start.

Excellent forum! Big thanks SUNLIVE.

Posted on 20-04-2018 16:09 | By Jayleen Wood

John Robson’s ’steady as she goes’ chairman approach was good, but I have to agree that you can almost feel Mark Wassung’s passion for what he does. He has worked hard and done his homework. Whilst all his ideas may not be perfect, I thought he was the best prepared candidate. I really like the idea of a future museum on the Tauranga waterfront surrounded by bustling restaurants and cafes, with possibly the addition of illuminated harbour bridges (and I’m not even a pro museum supporter this stage) "I hear you chuckling at this comment R. Bell". Aspects of Wassung’s transport plan will have to happen, as will inner city residential living; these are a no brainer and just a matter of when? A message for all of Tauranga and especially the Tauranga CBD - Get busy living, or get busy dying! I wish you well, Mark Wassung.


Posted on 20-04-2018 14:58 | By

You are definitely a man of the future, exactly what Tauranga needs. We don’t need anyone from the past.

Really enjoyed watching this (twice), thank you Sunlive.

Posted on 20-04-2018 14:29 | By TAURANGA - love our lifestyle city

To Mark Wassung.... you are always willing to take the lead by standing up and providing pro-active ideas and suggestions for the benefit of our city. We do not know you, and have never met you, but both my wife and I agree that you clearly are of good character and possess a good balance of attributes needed to represent the people of Tauranga. Some of these include: an innovative and realistic vision; on the ground, educated business understanding; worldly experience; future planning and fiscal management skills; personal responsibility and conviction of purpose; and most of all.. integrity. Quite frankly, Mark Wassung, we think you did great, are a stand up guy for Tauranga. You are desperately needed in the present and future Tauranga City Council structure. We have both voted for you. Best of luck. Mark & Felicia Warner.


Posted on 20-04-2018 14:00 | By rastus

Thanks to Sun live for hosting the potential leaders debate. The questions soon revealed the misguided dreamers from the reality kings - some obvious candidates with logical planning and affordable ’wish list’ concepts along with those with a lot of rhetoric who obviously have no idea of what responsibility is required to be a true representative of those who provide the funds - The long suffering ratepayers!

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