It is my privilege to write the first Council Column for the new council term.

My family and I spent Labour weekend cleaning up our section, and in the quiet it gave me time to reflect on the election campaign.

The election campaign period was one of the best I have had the privilege of being a part of. The calibre of the candidates was high, the questions from the community were thoughtful, and the answers from the candidates were insightful, and humorous at times. The community was highly engaged during this campaign term which was probably because we had three vacant seats around the council table, a vacant mayoral seat, and all but one rural ward was contested. To me, Tairawhiti as a whole had some great people to pick from for our new council; and Gisborne has picked some great people.

To the candidates who ran, you did your community proud. You stood on behalf of your friends and whanau, your pockets of our Gisborne community and everyone that has spoken to me has only said supportive things. I hope you do consider running again in the 2022.

The council-elect met the Monday the 14th of October, the next day after confirmation. Since then we have been part of an induction process that will go for the next five weeks, to bring all new councillors on to the same page. There is no way five weeks would ever bring anyone fully up to speed on the breadth of council business, but an induction over five weeks is definitely more than I got the last two times I came on to council.

I’m looking forward to the new look of council committee structures. To me, it looks like we will all have a better overview across our region, there will be stronger accountability to each other around the table and this should result in stronger, much more informed decision making.

This week in council, we only have one thing; the official swearing in of the newly elected Gisborne District Council. The swearing in is at 10am at the Lawson Field Theatre this will be followed by light refreshments.

I have a lot of hope for our next three year term, and also future terms. Seeing how high the calibre of candidates was, witnessing the new induction and the new planning, seeing our council become a bit more representative than it was two terms ago, seeing the enthusiasm, energy and effort the new councillors are bringing; this all gives me hope.

I was told on the election trail that when I first came into council I was ‘green and wide eyed’ but over the two terms they were impressed to have seen me grow. I have grown. I have learnt and achieved so much over my last two terms and am looking forward to combining my experience with mine and my colleagues’ enthusiasm, energy and effort.

A close, insightful friend of mine once told me that as long as we have hope inside of us, we have a will to improve and change things. Being a councillor is a tough job; you’re dealing with the community’s issues and problems 99% of the time, and like all jobs, sometimes it gets heavy. But as long as you maintain hope, you’ll keep working to improve and change things.

I’m looking forward to doing the work.

I am humbled to have been the highest polling councillor this term, thank you for that Gisborne. I am honoured to be able to serve the Gisborne District for another term.

As always, proud to serve you Tairawhiti.