Mayor has land­slide win

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By KA­T­RINA TANIRAU

Jan Barnes wasn’t set­ting out to make his­tory when she put her hat in the ring to be­come mayor of the Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict.

All she wanted was the chance to make a dif­fer­ence. Mrs Barnes will now have that chance as she hands over the dis­trict’s deputy mayor role and takes up the po­si­tion as Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Mayor.

She has also made his­tory as the first woman to be elected.

‘‘It’s been 120 years since women were given the right to vote in this coun­try so I’m very proud of this achieve­ment,’’ she said.

Mrs Barnes comes from a strong line of women. Her great, great grand­mother El­iz­a­beth Browne nee McGown came to New Zealand to be host­ess for her brother who was an MP.

She mar­ried Ben­ji­man Browne and they were among the first Euro­pean set­tlers in Wa­haroa.

On Satur­day af­ter­noon, Mrs Barnes was iron­ing while her hus­band Rex played the pi­ano for her, when she re­ceived a phone call from Mata­mataPi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Don McLeod to con­firm she had won the may­oralty by a land­slide.

The Mata­mata-based can­di­date re­ceived more than 4500 votes in Satur­day’s lo­cal body elec­tions, with fel­low Mata­mata can­di­date Garry Stan­ley her clos­est chal­lenger for mayor with 1845 votes.

‘‘I was ab­so­lutely blown away when I found out how many peo­ple had voted for me,’’ she said.

Mrs Barnes takes over from long stand­ing mayor Hugh Ver­coe, who stepped down on Satur­day af­ter 15 years in the role.

At 58, she is no stranger to lo­cal body pol­i­tics. She held the role of Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict deputy mayor for three years and was chair- woman of the Mata­mata Com­mu­nity Board for the same amount of time.

‘‘I’ve al­ways been in­volved with, and pas­sion­ate about, com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives and groups,’’ she said.

She has been mar­ried to hus­band Rex for 38 years and the cou­ple has three chil­dren.

Mrs Barnes said her hus­band had been a tower of strength through­out her cam­paign.

Ea­ger to get to work, the self con­fessed ‘‘girl from Te Poi’’ is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with her team and the dis­trict she rep­re­sents.

Mrs Barnes will at­tend new may­ors’ train­ing in Wellington at the end of this week.

She will be of­fi­cially sworn in on Wed­nes­day Novem­ber 6 at the Mata­mata- Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil cham­bers.

‘‘I thank ev­ery sin­gle per­son through­out our dis­trict who had faith in me. I’m a grass roots girl who is pas­sion­ate about peo­ple and I’m al­ways avail­able,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve got a big job ahead of me but I’m up for the chal­lenge.’’

Team Barnes: Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict’s newly elected mayor Jan Barnes with her hus­band Rex.

mata­mata.ed­i­tor@wrcn.co.nz

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