Rotorua Mayor pays tribute to Councillor Maureen Waaka
Monday 1 July 2013
Rotorua Mayor pays tribute to the late Councillor Maureen Waaka
“Today is a very sad day in Rotorua with the passing last night of long serving and popular councillor Maureen Waaka.
“At Rotorua District Council we have lost a much respected colleague and loved friend, while our community has lost a true champion and an outstanding role model.
“Councillor Maureen Waaka’s passing was not unexpected following her recent hospitalisation after suffering a stroke while on business in Auckland. It is however comforting to know that she was able to come home to her family in Whakarewarewa to spend her last days.
“Maureen was first elected to Rotorua District Council in 1989 for a three year term then re-elected in 1998, serving continuously until today, a total of 18 years. She has held many important positions on the council, more recently as an able chairperson of the Statutory Hearings and District Licensing committees and as member of a number of other council committees.
“Her services to Rotorua had previously been acknowledged with an MNZM royal honour, and she was a justice of the Peace.
“Maureen will be remembered by many for her tireless work on behalf of her community, and especially for those less fortunate than herself.
“Since she hit the headlines in her younger day as the country’s first Maori ‘Miss New Zealand’ pageant title holder she has felt a personal responsibility to serve her community, and her Maori community in particular. She has done that extraordinarily well over her lifetime, becoming a much admired figure throughout Rotorua and across New Zealand.
“One example of her commitment to others has been her well-known advocacy for restricting access to casinos, gaming machines and liquor outlets, issues she championed as a result of concerns about their impact on people in her community.
“Behind Maureen’s softly spoken voice, ready smile and gracious demeanour was a steely determination to help make life better for other people. She leaves us having played a significant role in achieving that in so many areas that touch on the lives of Rotorua folk today.
“I personally will miss her and I know she will leave a big gap in the lives of so many others across all walks of life.
“On behalf of the council and residents of Rotorua I extend condolences to John Waaka and the family, and Sue and I thank them for sharing Maureen with us all over so many years. Rotorua is a substantially better place for the enormous contribution Maureen has so generously made. She will long be remembered by us all.
“Rest in peace Maureen.”