Tauranga businesswoman Erika Harvey is a New Zealand First Tauranga Candidate in this year's general election, following List MP Clayton Mitchell's decision to retire from politics.
She has a background in sustainable commercial fishing practices, corporate sales and marketing. Erika and her husband Dan own a longline fishing business which she says gives 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 a 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 dont 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.
"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."
After her daughter was diagnosed with Autism in 2014, Erika dedicated herself to push for equality and accessibility for all New Zealander's challenged by a disability.
"As the board chair of a school which has a significant number of special needs kids, 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."
She wants to give Tauranga a voice at the top table in Wellington.
The Weekend Sun, 14th August 2020 : Page 18
Written by: Rosalie Liddle Crawford
Passionate about Inclusion, Collaboration, Innovation and making a difference.