Doctor, full-time dad, now Green’s candidate

Sampsa Kiuru: Sustainability, ecology and a fair and equal society have always been fundamental to me.

Between now and the election, the Wānaka Sun will be interviewing the five Waitaki electoral candidates. So far, we have interviewed Sean Beamish (ACT), Jacqui Dean (National), and Liam Wairepo (Labour). This week we interview Dr Sampa Kiuru, who is standing for the Green Party.

Full-time dad and part-time medical doctor Sampa Kiuru is the Green Party candidate for the Waitaki Electorate.

Originally from Finland (Sampsa Kiuru is an unusual Finnish name he claims), he has been in New Zealand for 20 years.

I came here for a six-month stint, and it just felt right, so I stayed, he says.

"I studied in the States – did my medical education there. But the US was so focused on money, and there is more to life than money. I liked the pace of life in NZ; I liked the ruralness. I liked the people. I liked the outdoors.

"I was never even contemplating Australia or America to settle down- they didn't feel right."

Kiuru is a doctor at Dunstan Hospital, initially practicing emergency medicine, but in the last seven years, he has been a rural medicine specialist.

"I worked all over New Zealand, but 13 years ago bought a piece of land in Clyde," he says, "and then built a house.

"It has been a slow long term project, but my wife, who is also a doctor, and our three children have been living there for seven years. Our children are between two and nine years.

"We live in an eco-home. We live very sustainably. It was the right thing for me to do."

So what made you want to stand for the Green Party?

In 20 years, I didn't want to sit around the table with my kids and have them say, Dad, you could have done more, he says.

"I have belonged to the Green Party since I arrived in New Zealand.

"My interest in green ecology started when I was in Finland. I've always been a green person. Sustainability, ecology, and a fair and equal society have always been fundamental to me.I brought the ideology with me to New Zealand.

"New Zealand is still a great country to live, and I think those core values are part of New Zealand, and that's one of the reasons why I felt attracted to stay.

"More so than Finland? Finland – it is very similar- I don't think there is too much difference between the philosophies of the two countries."

What ideologies are you campaigning on?

"I think we need to address climate change first and foremost. Then the other thing is our natural environment- I think we need to do more to protect our biodiversity.

"And the last thing is- I have the best job in the world serving the rural community, and we have beautiful rural communities. I think in the long term in about 20 years; the Green Party will offer the best livable situations for our rural communities.

"I am very involved in rural communities, and I think the Green Party is the best for them.

Why do you think this?

"Good schools, good communities,”] and good infrastructure.

"The Green Party believes that all of society should be fair and equal; therefore, the rural community should have the same health services as everyone else.

"The mantra that I get frustrated with is that of cutting taxes and services. By us collectively paying taxes provides good rural health services,

"We can do so much better in the rural health services that we provide. Putting money into the public and providing rural communities with good schools is how we are going to keep people in the rural community."

What are your other strong campaigning issues?

"I'm a big fan of free school lunches- l love cooking- I cook regularly at Clyde School. We make beautiful food in New Zealand, and we should be celebrating it and having nutritious school lunches."

What do you think is lacking in rural medicine?

"I think one big thing is awareness at the level of decision making. The decisions are all made from an urban focus. Rural gets easily forgotten. And we don't have rural representation on the tables where these decisions are made.

"I have always advocated that we need rural input when making decisions on health services in country districts. In general, this means for Waitaki district hospitals and rural GP practices.

Why did you want to stand? Have you thought about this before?

"I have thought about this before.

"Sue Coutts was the Green Party candidate six and nine years ago. She was a dedicated Green candidate, really cared about Wastebusters, and doing a good job. I respected her efforts.

"And the three years ago we did have a local candidate, but he moved to Wellington. I felt we needed a local voice, and I feel passionate about this."

What do you expect to get out of it?

"I want the Greens to form the government, but first of all, we need to get the five per cent. My job is to convince people that by voting Green in Waitaki, you are providing for a positive, sustainable future."

What is your campaign program?

"I'm a full-time dad and doctor, so I'm not campaigning per se, but I'm attending all the events I can and trying to go to meet all the candidates around Waitaki."

Read edition 990 of the Wānaka Sun here.


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