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New Maori councillors receive spirited welcome

27 October 2004

New Maori councillors receive spirited welcome

For immediate release: Wednesday 27 October 2004 Environment Bay of Plenty’s new council team was sworn into office today (Wednesday 27 October), after a spirited formal welcome for the new Maori constituency representatives.

Raewyn Bennett, Tiipene Marr and Tai Eru are the inaugural councillors for the newly-formed seats of Mauao, Kohi and Okurei in the Bay of Plenty.

Environment Bay of Plenty began the promotion of its own legislation for the establishment of dedicated Maori seats in 1998, the only regional council in New Zealand to do so. MP Mita Ririnui, who introduced the bill to Parliament in 2000, attended the ceremony as well as Judge Peter Trapski, who chaired the hearings during the public consultation process. “It is an historic occasion, not only for the Bay of Plenty but for New Zealand,” Judge Trapski told the gathering. He called Environment Bay of Plenty “a brave council and an enlightened one” for supporting the proposal by the Bay of Plenty’s Maori community.

Speaking at the powhiri, chief executive Jeff Jones pointed out that New Zealand will be watching Environment Bay of Plenty “to see how the direct Maori representation on local government works out”.

“Those who are hotly and vocally against the provision of Maori seats on local government will be examining everything we do to try and find problems. They will be hoping that the concept is a failure. In particular, for those inaugural councillors from the Maori constituencies, and indeed all of the council, there is a big challenge ahead of you to make the system work.”

After the inauguration, John Cronin was elected unopposed as chairman of Environment Bay of Plenty’s council for a further three years. Bryan Riesterer of Eastern Bay of Plenty constituency was elected deputy chairman.

Mr Cronin said Environment Bay of Plenty had taken up more of a leadership role in the region over the past three years and he hoped this would continue to develop. The region faced problems within all three sub-regions, including the lakes in Rotorua, the aftermath of the floods in the eastern Bay of Plenty, and infrastructure issues in Tauranga.

He planned to further foster collaborative relationships with district councils and other groups. “If we want a better region, we must take the people with us,” he said.

ENDS

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