This past week has seen a lot of change in council, with Meng’s departure and the mayoralty being officially taken up by Cr Stoltz in the interim and my appointment as Deputy Mayor.

I’m absolutely humbled by the appointment. I have always loved our piece of paradise. I have lived here my entire life and purposely chose to come home after university to work for my region. I can’t express how much this appointment means to me. How much it means to my mother and my grandparents; all of whom have been stalwarts in the Gisborne District community their entire lives.

My Wharehinga/Haenga grandparents were born and raised in Waipiro Bay and up the Poroporo. They raised my dad down Oxford St and have had a heavy involvement in the church for most of my life. My Cookson/Katipa grandparents from Te Karaka and Waihirere, raised my mum up Kanakanaia Road and had been long contributors to the Te Karaka farming community and the educational on the coast. My mum has worked in our community as a baker and then later on in health as a social/mental health worker; raising us in Elgin and Kaiti.

My family have been contributing to this community long before I was around, so to say I’m honoured that I get to continue their legacy of community contribution as Deputy Mayor is an understatement.

There are no council meetings this week so I wanted to touch on my visit to the East Cape Rd at Te Araroa.

Today I was in Te Araroa in my capacity as Deputy Mayor for the blessing and site walk through of the start of the works on the East Cape Rd. The East Cape Rd, along with Tiniroto Rd, is one of the specific target areas that are to be funded from the Provincial Growth Fund in addition to the current programme of route security works, network resilience, sealing and metalling.

The East Cape Rd is essential for the Te Araroa residents; to ensure they stay connected to the wider network, and because the East Cape Rd integrity is essential to the economic survival of Te Araroa and the Hicks Bay townships, as the road and the lighthouse attract a lot of tourists to the area.

The PGF money has been slow in getting to us but it’s coming and that’s a good sign. Unsurprisingly, still no sign of the extra funding that was also promised by NZTA at the end of last year. It is essential we have these funds sensibly spent on our highways and roading network, particularly at the Northern end of State Highway 35. She’s a shocker up there. The East Coast is not only one of our most popular tourist sites, but is an essential lifeline for our East Coast communities to stay connected with our townships and the city for health, education, tangi, bereavement, familial and economic reasons.

Today our former mayor, Meng Foon, was formally received into his new position as Race Relations Commissioner by powhiri at Pipitea marae in Poneke – Wellington. The tasks before him are substantial and numerous, but they have picked the right man for the job. I feel Meng is up to the task and I wish him well on his new endeavour. Haere pai atu ki to turanga hou, e hoa. Go well to your new position, my friend.

Honoured to be able to serve, in the interim, as Deputy Mayor. As always, proud to serve you Tairawhiti, I will always do my best for you.