My first term as a councillor has been hard work and a lot of learning, two things fortunately I relish and am very familiar with!  The paperwork has been heavy, but not as heavy as the weight of the decisions a councillor has to make for the betterment of our region.  The councillor position is one that comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility.  And so it should.  However, the pressure that the position holds pales in comparison to how thankful and fortunate I am to have been elected to the council table in 2014.  To this day I still wear the widest grin every single time I sit down at our committee, council and community meetings because I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have your confidence to sit at that table.

I still hold community engagement as priority one.  It’s a high priority for me to be involved in the many facets of our community to hear the voice of our community.  From the Petrolheads breakfasts and car shows on the first Sunday of every month, to the Ka Pai Kaiti whanau events, seeing the hardworking volunteers when the cruise ships come into port, all the faces that use our Oneroa walkway, and the plethora of other amazing things we have here, I enjoy being at them all!  Coming into council, I never wanted to be the kind of governor who became removed from the community, after all, it’s the community who put me at the council table.

Community work is still a high priority and important to me as a councillor because there is lots to be learnt by getting your hands dirty that you can’t learn around a council table.  My children and I still enjoy contributing to the Gisborne community whether it’s planting Kaiti Hill and Waikanae stream, cleaning up Kaiti beach, painting out tagging in our community, or marching against child abuse; being good family contributors to the community is still very important to me.

I am still a staunch advocate of zero human waste in our rivers and oceans.  Whether it’s due to poor infrastructure, heavy rain or malfunctioning equipment; it has to be fixed.  I am still a huge advocate for smart cycle and walkways.  Central government has prioritised cycle and walkways in their roading budget so it makes smart sense that we get as much as we possibly can from them.  I still strongly support sustainable economic development.  In conjunction with the export markets we already have I still think we need to be start moving to high value, low-cost-to-export products like Research and Development, and piggy backing off successful things like Mindlab and the awesome work that came out of gigatown to foster and grow our existing technological expertise.  Gisborne has always been a place of innovation, a place where we embraced technologies quickly; things like colour printing for Photo News was done here first!  Let’s keep up that tradition!

I feel like I have more to contribute, which is why I will also be standing for the Tairāwhiti District Health board.  Having a background in social work with the proverbial “at risk” teens from the Activity Centre, as a Social Worker in Schools for primary aged children, as a former tutor of Social Work students and finally as a manager of Social Work lecturers I feel that I have a wealth of knowledge to contribute to the governance of our District Health board.
Hauora Tairawhiti has been engaging in things like Community Housing, strategies for engaging with gang affiliated whanau and what holistic health looks like.  All issues which impact on the health and wellbeing of our people and all issues I am already active and educated in. I think my addition to the Health Board will help provide the board with balance, exuberance and some fresh ideas.

I wrote previously about gratitude, to be honest, it’s the gratitude that motivates me to do my absolute best for the Gisborne District.  Gratitude motivates me to diligently read, digest, understand and question everything that comes across my table.  Gratitude makes me keen to learn new things so I can contribute more at the council table.  I think I still have a lot to contribute to the council table but at the end of the day it is entirely up to the community.  And so it should.

jwharehinga