Tauranga businesswoman Erika Harvey is standing as the New Zealand First Tauranga candidate in this year’s general election, following List MP Clayton Mitchell’s decision to retire from politics.
A background in sustainable commercial fishing practices and corporate sales and marketing, involvement on the advisory board of a local youth development team, and serving as chairperson of Greerton Village School’s Board of Trustees are some of the reasons why Erika feels she is a good fit with NZ First.
Erika and her husband Dan own a longline fishing business which she says has given her first-hand experience of the challenges facing small business owners. Over a four-year period, while helping resolve issues with Tauranga’s marine precinct, she became aware of greater issues at local government level.
“I pulled together stakeholders and we're now all working with council to repair the marine precinct issues,” says Erika, who found there were also significant issues when it comes to transparency and accountability in government.
“The issues are the same at central government - transparency, lack of governance, decisions being made that probably don’t have the planning or the right people in the right roles, and pushing forward with something where they’re not listening to the community.”
She likes to fight for what she feels is right, for common sense and a resilient future.
“As a small business owner, I see there's many rules and business legislation being passed that hinder the growth of small businesses. I feel this as an important area that I could deliver into, especially after COVID.”
“We have to look at how we can help businesses grow. In this current climate we need to be focusing on how we can be more innovative and encourage people to start thinking outside the box to create business and jobs locally.
“There also needs to be some legislative changes made, to ensure better accountability and transparency. People need to know how to raise a complaint, and know their complaint’s actually being handled.”
After her daughter was diagnosed with autism in 2014, Erika dedicated herself to push for equality and accessibility for all New Zealanders challenged by a disability.
“As the board chair of a school which has the highest number of special needs kids in the country, I’ve been raising issues around the funding problems that we have from simply following the law. I know how to fight for what’s right, and help people figure out how they can solve complex problems and find simple solutions.
Erika says her business strengths are her ability to relate to people, to build relationships, to build trust and to listen.
“I believe what's missing in politics is that people are not open to listening as much as they could.
“My main focus for running in this election is for Tauranga. I want to help council achieve the outcomes they want. That’s why I ran for council. And that’s why I want to run for central government - to give a voice of Tauranga at the table in Wellington.”