Tauranga mayoral race: Aurel Braguta

Aurel Braguta is running for mayor and in the Welcome Bay Ward. Photo: Supplied.

In July, Tauranga will choose who will be running their city for the first time in five years.

A mayor and nine councillors will replace the four-person commission that has been in place since February 2021.

To keep people informed ahead of the election on July 20, Local Democracy Reporting asked the 15 mayoral candidates their thoughts on four topics.

Before voting opens on June 29 readers will hear from each of the mayoral candidates.

Aurel Braguta lives in Welcome Bay and is a full-time dad with two children. The 45-year-old started his honey business in Tauranga at age 27.

Since then he has grown this business and now has several properties including farms and commercial buildings. He says he wants to bring some “real-life experience and common sense” to the council. Braguta is running for mayor and in the Welcome Bay ward.

His Welcome Bay property lies outside of the Tauranga City Council area.

Tauranga is the least affordable city in New Zealand because of an infrastructure and housing deficit. How would you address this?

"To address the housing shortages, the first thing I would do is to talk with people and companies who build the houses to identify the problems that are getting in the way of building.

"I have heard many times that the biggest problem is the cost and time wasted at getting a building consent.

"I’m sure there are many other impediments when it comes to building but the first step would be the cost and time that it takes to get a consent."

What would you do to keep young adults in Tauranga and attract others to the city?

"We need to crack down on wasteful costs on every level, starting from the council offices and to be careful where we are spending the money.

"By having some cost savings on every project that the city council is undertaking, we may find ourselves being able to use the savings to improve existing infrastructure.

"And invest in new projects that would benefit and create new opportunities for all.

"When we have a well-managed city with plenty of attractive opportunities, young people, would want to stay, live and build their future here."

Tauranga will have its first Māori Ward this election. The Government plans to require councils to hold a binding referendum on Māori wards established after March 2021. This means the Te Awanui Māori ward could only be in place for one term. Given the change in Government policy, is it important for Tauranga to keep this ward?

"I am not in support of a separate Māori ward. I believe that we are all to live, work and govern together regardless of our race, gender and so on."

Hypothetically, if Tauranga won the lotto and there was no budget, what big ticket item would you want for the city?

"Excluding infrastructure, like roads and water services and housing. This city is facing a lot of challenges such as rate increases, housing shortages, rising rent costs, traffic congestion, homelessness, debt, infrastructure and many more problems.

"I cannot think of anything else more important at this stage than fixing the things mentioned above. It is not in my nature to think of unrealistic dreams and wishes."


LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.



Posted on 22-06-2024 00:38 | By Radixlecti

This candidate lost my interest when he dismissed the concept of a Maori ward


Posted on 22-06-2024 09:07 | By an_alias

This candidate gained my interest when he said we were all equal and race based "democracy" has no part in this country

What to vote for

Posted on 22-06-2024 09:28 | By woz

In my experience, we're never able to get either a candidate or a party that is the "full package" i.e. is everything you want (in a candidate or party). So you have to go with one as close as possible to your core values. As a Maori, I don't support Maori wards either. However, I think discontinuing them needs to be a Maori decision resulting from an innate-slash-organic drive originating within Maoridom itself, not enforced from outside it. Not supporting Maori wards in my opinion is not enough grounds to "cancel" anyone's (not just the above candidate) potential as a community leader.


Posted on 22-06-2024 10:20 | By KiwiDerek

"the first thing I would do is to talk with people and companies who build the houses to identify the problems that are getting in the way of building." Seriously? Do you not think it might be a good idea to talk to them BEFORE the election, find out the problems and offer a solution since you are a candidate? If you want to be elected, do some work, don't just pose and talk.

Definitely possible.

Posted on 22-06-2024 12:59 | By morepork

I like what he said and it proves that we DO have candidates who will probably do well in the job, despite Tolley saying it requires "special" people.


Posted on 22-06-2024 13:07 | By morepork

He would have lost my vote if he HAD supported Maori Wards. It is good that even though there are widely varying views in the community, we all get to vote. I have yet to see anyone show how a Maori Ward provides practical advantage for ALL of the community. I understand it is emotional and is good for mana, but how does it help, in practice? If it only promotes Maori interest, that is the antithesis of a diverse and equal society, where EVERYBODY has the same deal. I'd be very happy to see Maori candidates running for Council/Mayor, just as I would for ANY of the 200 ethnicities our society now contains. Groups with special needs can be accommodated through the democratically elected Council. We need a level playing field to fight Racism. Maori Wards are more divisive than helpful.


Posted on 22-06-2024 18:29 | By Let's get real

If the race based ward is so vital to having representation from Maori in council, why are there only three candidates..?
To date the quality of the candidates has been questionable, Which is particularly disappointing for a city that attracts some very well educated and thoughtful people into the community.


Posted on 24-06-2024 13:03 | By morepork

I read your response and considered it. I think you are right that Maori should have a role in the dissolution of such wards. I also think that there should be an effort to make sure that Maori people are reassured that they will not be disadvantaged by such a dissolution; they will have the same rights and accesses as the rest of society. I see Maoritanga as an important part of NZ (my, as a non-Maori) culture, and it must be preserved, but not at the expense of dividing our society or providing gains and opportunities for manipulation by extremist elements. The underlying cultures of ALL our ethnicities are important and should be celebrated and preserved, but we need to stop trying to dominate each other and work together with goodwill for a future for ALL of us. "He iwi tahi tatu"; "We are now one people."

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