He’s a vegetarian who loves travelling, reading, and serving the community.
Remuera resident Kuan Yap is one of seven candidates stepping up to contest the open seat on the Howick Local Board for the Botany subdivision by-election, after a friend suggested he should put his name forward.
Born in Malaysia, the 59-year-old moved to New Zealand in 1988, and took up a voluntary position as a Chinese Telephone Counsellor with Lifeline.
“When I first moved here, I noticed quite a few people were lonely, and struggling, so when I saw the advertisement for Chinese Lifeline phone operators in the paper, I decided to give it a go.”
For almost two years, Mr Yap dedicated a few hours after his normal working day to speak with callers, only stopping because his business commitments increased.
He also worked on a semi-voluntary basis with Youthline, served as a Trustee of the Chinese Mental Health Consultation Services Trust and served as the Chair of the Finance Committee of the Auckland Justices of the Peace Association, after being appointed a Justice of the Peace in 2004.
Community comes first, says Mr Yap, who was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2012 for services to the community, and is a committee member of the Remuera Residents Association.
With twenty years experience building and maintaining an extensive client base after kick-starting his own accounting firm in 1997, Mr Yap believes his financial experience will prove a significant asset to the board, helping to ensure cost-effective decisions are made with ratepayers in mind.
Despite not living in the Botany electorate zone, the father-of-two says he knows and understands the East Auckland community, often hosting client meetings and attending voluntary commitments in the area.
If Mr Yap wins the seat, he’s keen to minimise crime rates, by educating people on the importance of reporting crime and what they can do to prevent it.
“I’m very concerned about crime – it’s a big issue,” says Mr Yap. “A lot of people don’t report it when it happens, and that’s something I want to change.”
He’s also advocating for integrated transport solutions, but says if there’s one thing he could work on, it would be the improvement of public facilities.
Mr Yap says he would love to see the addition of a swimming pool in Botany, a digital technology library in Ormiston, an international stage for performers, and a community hall, or meeting place for all nationalities and religions.
“People want places to go and activities to do. We live in a multicultural area, and we need facilities that are comfortable for everyone.
“That’s one of the reasons I want to run. Botany is a newfound area. It’s not fully established, and with all the new housing developments going up, there’s still a lot that needs to improve. I can help with that.”