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Vacancies Filled After By-election Flop

ENSURING REPRESENTATION: Two members of the community were appointed to the Murupara Community Board this week after two elections failed to attract any candidates.CHARLOTTEJONES/LDR

After falling short of candidates at two elections, Murupara Community Board has appointed people to fill its two vacancies.

For the second consecutive election, the community board has struggled to find candidates to fill the two Galatea-Waiohau seats and has had to hold a by-election.

This year, the by-election also failed to attract any candidates so Bella (Ngapera) Rangiaho from Waiohau and Shaun Bicknell from Galatea were put forward as potential board members.

Their appointments have been accepted by the rest of the board and will be confirmed at the next meeting in mid-March.

Whakatane district councillor and Murupara ward representative Alison Silcock said she was not certain why it was so hard to fill the seats but it might have been because people in the ward were very busy and might not have been aware of the role the community board played.

“I rung around a lot of people to see if they would be interested in sitting on the board and what I was hearing was many people were too busy with other commitments to donate the time needed,” she said.

“Maybe our community board profile isn’t high enough that people think, ‘I could also be part of that’.”

Mrs Silcock said possibly the board needed to look at lifting its profile and ensure the community knew what they did as some people might not be aware of how much difference they could make while serving on the board.

“Confidence seems to be an issue as well, we need to show that anyone can stand for it and make a difference while working for the betterment of the community,” she said.

“I’m really not sure; we can surmise all we like but I believe there are a whole range of reasons why.”

Both candidates chosen by the board members are actively involved in other community groups in the Murupara-Galatea ward.

Board chairwoman Jackie Te Amo said she believed it was hard to attract candidates due to the $200 nomination fee needed to run in the election.

Ms Te Amo said many people in the ward simply didn’t have $200 on hand and it wasn’t guaranteed the putea (money) would be refunded following the election.

Murupara isn’t alone with a lack of candidates standing for its community board. All six Taneatua Community Board members were elected unopposed after no-one else put their name forward and the Rangitaiki Community Board only attracted one more candidate than needed.

The Whakatane-Ohope Community Board attracted three more candidates than required.

Murupara board members had three options to fill the vacancies: appoint two qualified electors, advertise expressions of interest to fill the vacancies or hold a further by-election.

Members favoured the first option because it guaranteed the two candidates would come from within the Galatea-Waiohau subdivision. The other options would be time consuming and costly, especially as a by-election had already been held and had failed to attract any candidates.

© Scoop Media

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