Sam says farewell

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Step­ping down: Pe­seta Sam Lotu-Iiga has re­signed from the Auck­land City Coun­cil and will not be re­placed.

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