Ted Howard - campaign question answers

Ted - July 2022

Questions from the Kaikoura Star

1. What made you decide to run?

I see a lot of challenges ahead, and I think I have a skill set that will be useful to the team and the community in meeting those challenges.

2. What do you believe needs to be addressed in Kaikoura?

Many issues are present, and when managing complex systems one needs to be constantly adapting to how those systems respond.

There are many economic, social and environmental challenges, climate change is a big one; and modern understandings of management in the face of such complexity (like the Cynefin Framework) involve promoting multiple diverse approaches, and seeing what actually works in practice.

3. What do you believe you can bring to the table?

A broad background with an ability to appreciate many different perspectives; as well as a broad and reasonably current knowledge of biology, systems, strategy, politics, management and governance; working towards a framework where all individuals get to experience what they consider reasonable degrees of freedom and responsibility and choice.

4. How long have you lived in Kaikoura?

24 years. I met Ailsa here 31 years ago, and we were married here 28 years ago.

5. What do you do/did for a living?

I run a small software and consultancy business that I started in 1986 (Solution-Multipliers NZ Ltd). I still enjoy doing some coding, though I no longer do 40 hour continuous sessions, 4 or 5 hours is enough at a time these days.

6. Have you had any relevant experience for local government?

Quite a bit. Since moving to Kaikoura I served a term on the KDC – 2001-2004, as chair of the works and services committee. I was an initial member of the Kaikoura Zone Water Management Committee in 2011 and have chaired it since 2015. A lot of work with both ECan and KDC in the risk management, biosecurity, biodiversity and long term planning spaces, through both Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura and the Kaikoura Marine Guardians, and was the Guardians rep on the NCTIR RLG post quake, so deeply involved in the road/rail/infrastructure rebuild at governance level. Locally I am also active in the Lions Club, Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust, Golf Club, Forest and Bird, Boating Club, Tramping Club, so have reasonably diverse networks of contacts and communication and practical experience.

7. How do you plan to connect to the younger voters?

Largely by being open to listening to anyone who wants to talk to me. By hosting online meetings from time to time. By taking the time to engage with those who wish to engage with me.

8. Any last thoughts on the district and why you decided to run?

I have been deeply interested in complexity, in geology, in biology, in politics and economics, in complex systems, for over 50 years, and that has taught me that truly complex systems never react quite the same way twice – there is always novelty present, and we need to be constantly vigilant and adaptive in our responses to it. Every individual human is a complex system. We are all more complex than we are capable of knowing, so we can all be constant sources of novelty to ourselves and those around us. That novelty seems to be fundamental to how life survives, it is, in a very real sense, how life searches the space of what is possible for things that are survivable.

The pace of change in technology and understanding is such that many of our old systems are no longer appropriate, and that is causing many issues.

I think I can be useful both in creating contexts that allow individuals to see for themselves some of the things we face, and in creating consensus around the sorts of responses and approaches that we as a community have to them.

This is a great place to live. My work allowed me to live anywhere with an internet connection, and we chose here. This place, this community, has a lot going for it.

I think I have skills that will be useful in creating a future that is both inclusive and sustainable, where individual freedom and responsibility lead to social and ecological flourishing, both as individuals and as a groups. And we all have complex natures. We are all individuals, and members of our various groups, and part of the environment; and all of these are essential parts of what make us - us. They need to be in balance, and balance is not a static thing.

Kaikoura Star asked for some additional questions but due to my being an hour late with my responses they did not get published.

4. What do you believe the council should do to prepare the district for the effects of climate change?

The best thing council can do is to work towards international cooperation; because only an international cooperative effort can solve this issue. And it is part of deeply more complex issues, that require fundamental changes to the structure of the world economic system.

5. How do you hope the Government will respond to the council's opposition to the Three Waters bill? What are your personal thoughts on the Bill?

I hope the government will reconsider its approach to this issue. Central control is not appropriate. Similar to the climate change situation, what is needed is cooperation and support for diverse approaches. Real complex situations demand an ability to respond appropriately to changes. Overly constrained systems cannot do that. We need to support the people who are doing the work with appropriate tools and resources to allow them to get the job done – not try and generate a centralised “one size fits none” solution.

[{Additional sentence not originally written} Everyone needs access to clean healthy water, and that is best achieved by central support, rather than central control.]

6. What are your thoughts on the proposed redevelopment of the South Bay Harbour?

If it can attract the research communities from NZ and overseas, then it could be a great thing, and I support taking it to the next stage where those avenues can be more thoroughly explored.

If it just about our existing users, then I can’t see it making much sense.

Questions from North Canterbury News

Would you describe this year’s rates rise as fair?


Explanation (50 words or less)

At 4.04% it is less than the rate of inflation, so inflation adjusted it is a rates decrease. That does seem fair to me.

Are Maori wards an effective way to increase Maori participation, both as candidates and as voters, in local government elections?


Explanation (50 words or less)

It is a partial yes. To get involvement people need to have the resources of education, time and resources. Changing the voting system won't do that, it requires fundamental economic reform.

Are the government’s Three Waters reforms the best way to achieve the investment that is sorely needed in water infrastructure in many regions?


Explanation (50 words or less)

When dealing with complex systems, what is required is central support but devolved decision making and diversity of approaches. Anyone who thinks water supply is simple has no experience of making them work.

Should councils be spending ratepayer money on climate change initiatives? eg. better or more affordable public transport, collection of compost to prevent this going in to landfill, moving their transport fleets towards being fully electric.


Explanation (50 words or less)

Again a limited yes, if it makes sense to do so. In the big picture, climate change cannot be solved without global cooperation between diverse cultures and systems (not one world government, but an acceptance of eternal expanding diversity).

Once global cooperation is achieved, solving climate change is relatively simple.

[Answers to questions at the Kaikoura Candidates meeting will be published after the meeting.]

Questions at the Kaikoura Candidates meeting

Meeting held Upper Room, 98 West End, 7pm Thursday 8th September 2022

Two minute opening statements, the 2 minutes on each question.

Opening Statements

Kia Ora. I'm Ted, and I'm married to Ailsa. We met here in 1991, got married here in 1994 and have been living here since 1998. I have served a term on the council 2001 to 2004, and have been involved in many community groups over the last 24 years. I'm a geek. I run a small software business. I find machines and systems much easier to understand than people, so I have had to work hard to observe, to listen and to ask questions, to begin to build some sort of an understanding of what is important to others, and how they see the world. I have had a lot of practice doing that, with many different people, in many different fields, and have started to get reasonably good at it.

I began to get very interested in politics in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis. I could see the insanity of that situation, and knew there had to be better ways of doing things, even if I didn't know what they were. I knew I had to search for better ways. That led me to become a generalist, to learn as much as I reasonably could about as many different areas as possible, so that I might have a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst of the errors that world leaders were clearly making. I am active in many groups, locally and internationally, on that general theme of creating a secure future where all people are empowered to do whatever they reasonably and responsibly choose. Freedom without responsibility is always and necessarily destructive.

I believe I have a set of skills that can be valuable to this community in building a secure and prosperous future for all. On that basis I am asking for you to vote for me, for Mayor and for council. Thank you.

1) What is in your mind the single biggest challenge facing the Kaikoura District? How would you propose to address this?

Possibly the biggest challenge seems to me to be insufficient respect for diversity. We are all different, in subtle and not so subtle ways, yet we are all much more alike than we are different.

Our brains are built in a way that we tend to notice differences, and ignore what is expected. That kind of makes sense in many contexts, but if uncontrolled leads to intolerance, anger, and violence over things that are really tiny in the big picture.

If we are to build a prosperous future, then we must accept and respect all diversity that is not a direct threat. We need to make the effort to try and see how things might look to those with a very different set of experiences from ours, with different cultures, histories and ways of thinking about things. And that can be really hard. We all have multiple sets of systems in our brains that tend to over simplify the complexity that surrounds us. To some degree that is essential, and if taken too far it leads to righteous intolerance and conflict.

We need to build understanding. To accept that others have different values and ways of being, and provided that they are fundamentally cooperative, and are willing to respect life and property, then that difference is not simply OK, it is something to be treasured.

2) What are your 3 goals you wish to accomplish during your term?

I want this community to be sufficiently respectful and cooperative, and for individuals to be sufficiently empowered and responsible, that the violence present in our schools ends.

Part of achieving that is ensuring that all people have a reasonable chance of a reasonable life. Affordable housing is a big part of that.

I want all people to feel sufficiently secure and respected that they are able to build respect for the amazing natural environment that we are blessed to live in, and I want everyone to make reasonable efforts to care for both our native biodiversity, and each other. We all need to be kaitiaki, guardians, of the world that supports us.

For Mayoral Candidates

1) What are your thoughts around the role of local and central government in Aotearoa? What could be improved?

Two minutes is not going to cut it. If you have some spare time, follow some of the links from my website - Kaikoura.org, and you will start to get an appreciation for the sorts of issues I see present in all levels of governance.

One of the biggest issues is the idea that we can solve problems with rules. In most contexts, that idea is simply wrong. Much of reality is sufficiently complex and ever changing, that what is required is responsibility. We each need to be generally aware of the major issues, to use our own senses, and to make our best efforts for a good outcome given all the specifics of the particular context we find ourselves in. And this reality we find ourselves in seems to contain multiple classes of fundamental uncertainty, so the only certain thing is that we are all going to make mistakes from time to time. The general idea is to not to make the same mistake too often. And the idea of not getting caught doesn't count - that is fundamentally cheating - and cheating on the community is the biggest mistake of all. We each need to do our best to act in ways that we would be happy to be caught acting in.

While some rules are essential to prevent cheats, from destroying cooperation, too many rules prevent people acting responsibly. Governance at all levels needs to find a balance that empowers responsible action, not try to control exactly what people do with too many rules. And that is a hard problem.

2) Our area has developed over the last few decades on the back of tourism industry. Would you, or how would you envision diversifying our local economy in light of recent uncertainty?

This is difficult. We have our traditional backbone of the farming and fishing and support communities, and we have tourism. Do you try and develop skills you don't have, or do you focus on cultivating the strengths present? A bit of both is usually useful, and mostly it seems to be better to focus on the strengths.

Kaikoura has one major set of strengths, the beauty, the majesty, the amazing diversity of the geology and biology present here. We can make a strong case for being the seabird capital of the world. We have our own indigenous titi (the Hutton's Shearwater), that breeds only here; but we also have many other species that breed here, and even more that visit here frequently.

The abundance provided by the upwellings from the trench give us our abundant fisheries, and bring most of the tourists here for whale or dolphin watching, fishing, seabird tours, etc. We have some of the darkest skies on the planet, and could develop astrotourism. And there is room to do things like grow fresh food locally, and that requires cooperation by local sales outlets (and there can be contractual barriers to such things that may take time to sort out).

There are new ventures being proposed by people all the time. Our job as council is to see that such things are not an unreasonable threat to anyone or anything else, and provided that is the case, to support them where we reasonably can.

Like most things in life, it requires balance, and balance is not a static thing. And part of learning balance is crashing a few times.

Summary - why vote for me?

Why vote for me? Because I really am interested in building on the many strengths present in this community and this place.

I have a strong background in systems, in biology, in strategy, in law, in complexity, in business and in governance. I know how to work hard when needed.

I am a good listener. I am capable of coming up with good ideas, but I am even better at finding and communicating the good ideas that other people have.

I have worked in the Te Korowai process for the last 17 years to build community consensus where-ever possible (and sometimes it isn't possible). I want to build community consensus on all subjects, to the degree that such is possible.

I like to know the details of what is going on, but not to micromanage, but rather to know how and where to best offer such assistance as is necessary and available.

I will be a Mayor who will promote Kaikoura on the world stage, because I truly am in love with this place, its wildlife and its people.

I ask you, to please vote for Ted for Mayor. Thank you for coming, and thanks to Martin for organising this meeting.

4 Questions on Climate Change

From voteclimate.org.nz, started to answer these, then stopped, as the questions were too restricted and limiting, and made assumptions that seemed wrong to me.

To give a context, Ailsa and I accepted the reality of climate change 30 years ago, and 26 years ago bought 13 Ha of land and planted 16,000 trees to offset our emissions. It rapidly became clear that while that might work for us, there isn't enough land for that to work for everyone. Something else is required.

The more deeply I looked into it, the more complex it became. Individuals choosing to act responsibly could only get us so far, if a real solution was desired, then it would require fundamental systemic change to how the economic and political systems currently work.

We've done what we reasonably can personally. We have got small cars, not big ones. I have an electric bike that I use reasonably frequently. But that sort of thing wont solve the issue. What is required is global cooperation, and global acceptance of diversity, rather than groups attempting to enforce hegemony upon others.

The detailed questions on the website were too simplistic and limiting, so I will answer the major themes here.

The Topics:

1/ More public transport, more often: More frequent services in cities and towns, and between centres and across regions

Public transport isn't necessarily a solution to climate change. It can require more resources to run in low density environments (like Kaikoura), and coming developments in self driving vehicles may make it viable for smaller communities like ours.

2/ More affordable public transport: Increased trialling of reduced fare or free services to encourage and broaden uptake

In the current economic system, reducing fares just means someone else pays. In our town, the problem isn't fares, it is that people are spread out over wide areas and private transport makes sense.

3/ Safer walking & cycling: Investment in infrastructure to make cycling and walking safer

I'm all for safer walking and cycling, and it can be very difficult to implement, as we saw here in Kaikoura with attempts to get a coastal cycle way in place after the earthquake. It got very complex, as agreements made were consistently broken by subcontractors unaware of the details of the agreements. Leading to total failure. I have done a lot of cycling on the Kaikoura coast over the last 20 years and have had more than a few close calls with large trucks on narrow sections of road - it is not for the faint hearted.

4/ More inter-city and regional public transport: Investing in train and bus services that make travel between cities, towns and regions easier

Again, the lack of population here makes the provision of such services utterly uneconomic. You end up using a lot more carbon than having private transport. Electric vehicles are coming, and breakthroughs in battery technologies are happening quite frequently. The problem then becomes, where do we get the electricity from. To replace all our current use of fossil fuels we basically need to double our generation capacity. That is doable, but not quickly. It really is a very complex area, and it does seem to be entirely solvable, and it will require international cooperation. We could do everything right in NZ, but without China, India, Africa, Europe and USA onside - the problem will get worse.

Some links to past posts

These links go to ideas and questions that I have written about over the last 12 years. If you are interested in what motivates me, and the general directions of my thoughts and actions, then you will find useful pointers in these links.

What do you think constitutes human flourishing?

On Politics

On being human


How can you create a concept map about your responsibilities as a good citizen to protect your rights? Think of major responsibilities and under each. How can you perform each responsibility?

Is money just the thing that corporations use to control humans?

Does the world need a global one child policy?

What would an optimal society look like, if the requirement were to enable the longest possible existence of the human species?

What everyday occurrence makes you think there is no future for humanity?

What can humanity do to counteract the increasing world temperatures?

If “Why should humans exist?” is the question a powerful sentient AI being capable of wiping humanity and self-sustenance asks you, then what would you say or show to it?


Why is the world still suffering from covid-19?

Authorised by Ted Howard, 1 Maui Street, Kaikoura.

Contact ted@kaikoura.org

Phone 027 442 4281

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