Sam says farewell
THE MORNING after resigning from the Auckland City Council, Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga was feeling “pretty good”.
“My family is pretty good and the staff at my electoral office are really good.”
Mr Lotu-Iiga handed his hand-written letter of resignation to deputy mayor David Hay who chaired last Thursday’s council meeting.
“I’m a bit sad, I really enjoyed council work.
“It’s not going to stop, I’ll still be doing a huge amount of council work through my office but more informal stuff.”
He says with less than a year to go until the new Auckland Council is formed, it’s a good time for him to step down.
Mr Lotu-Iiga has been a councillor for two years and was elected as the Maungakiekie MP in November last year, winning the safe Labour seat for the National Party.
The major projects he was involved with as a councillor, such as the Tamaki transformation and the Onehunga foreshore restoration, are in a “good space”, he says.
Mr Lotu-Iiga was overcome with emotion while thanking council staff and his colleagues at the meeting and also when talking about the “huge personal sacrifices” of his time in the council.
He told City Vision councillors he listened to what they had to say.
“I think you have some great ideas.
“I don’t think any one party has all the great ideas or that any one party has all the good people.
“I believe in social justice just like you and the protection of the poor and needy.”
He paid tribute to the late Citizens and Ratepayers councillor Linda Leighton, who died in 2007 and was replaced in a byelection by John Lister.
Mr Lotu-Iiga also thanked his wife and family who were at the meeting to support him.
“I’ve been honoured to be part of this council.
“I’ve lost a lot of hair, put on a lot of weight and had huge personal sacrifices.
“I’ve got my faith, my family and a lot more friends.”
Despite saying he was “blessed in a huge way” with his involvement, he says he didn’t always enjoy the job.
“I didn’t enjoy the personal attacks and nastiness that can come out of people in this chamber but I could live with that because we do this for the greater good.”
Councillor Doug Armstrong paid tribute to Mr Lotu-Iiga’s academic, governance and Pasifika credentials and said he was “always destined for greater things”.
His energy and commitment was also praised by City Vision leader Richard Northey, who said Mr LotuIiga dealt with the opposition councillors fairly.
Although he has faced criticism in the past for being both a councillor and an MP, Mr Lotu-Iiga says it wasn’t the reason he stepped down.
“The opposition will be the opposition, they will be critical even when you are doing the right things.”
Labour list MP Carol Beaumont, who stood against Mr Lotu-Iiga for the Maungakiekie seat in last year’s general election, has always questioned his ability to do both jobs.
“I personally never thought it was right for him to hold two positions. He has had to face community concern.”
She says he has not been able to do justice to either of the roles.
“It’s a pity that by the way he has operated, we have lost the opportunity for someone who is genuinely committed to the job.”
Mr Hay said Mr Lotu-Iiga would not be replaced on the council.
Stepping down: Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has resigned from the Auckland City Council and will not be replaced.