Fam­ily first, says Joanne Aoake

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - REXINE HAWES

Joanne Aoake has a heart and a pas­sion for her whanau and com­mu­nity.

Raised and ed­u­cated in Mata­mata, Aoake is con­test­ing one of the four seats for the Mata­mata Ward, of the Mata­mata-Pi­ako lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Aoake has sat on nu­mer­ous boards and na­tional com­mit­tees, in­clud­ing the Smoke-Free Coali­tion, Te Rau­mata­tini Men­tal Health, Public Health As­so­ci­a­tion and more lo­cally, the Pohlen Hospi­tal Board.

She says an ex­ten­sive in­ter­est in Gov­ern­ment and non­Govern­ment sec­tors makes her pre­pared and ca­pa­ble of rep­re­sent­ing Mata­mata at coun­cil.

‘‘I have the aca­demic and management cre­den­tials to do the work in the coun­cil, but that for me isn’t as im­por­tant as fam­ily is and the in­vest­ment in this com­mu­nity. We are in­vested here.’’

Aoake is one of five gen­er­a­tions from Okauia. She says her fam­ily is what keeps her grounded in the place she loves and it is her fam­ily that she speaks for.

‘‘I am not the voice for any­one but my fam­ily.’’

She con­sid­ered en­ter­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment pol­i­tics only a few months ago, after be­ing prompted by a close friend.

Aoake says she has stud­ied the pro­files of the other can­di­dates and coun­cil­lors care­fully and thought about what she could of­fer.

‘‘When I first looked at who was in­volved in coun­cil, I thought, what would I add? I add di­ver­sity.’’

Aoake says she has some qual­i­ties which are the same as the other can­di­dates but she also has other qual­i­ties which are dif- fer­ent.

‘‘And if we put that all to­gether, then we will be more fully rounded.’’

Aoake says she isn’t en­ter­ing lo­cal pol­i­tics as a voice for Maori, it’s not what she has been asked or given per­mis­sion to do. But she is an ad­vo­cate and par­tic­i­pant on marae and iwi de­vel­op­ment and in­volved in the learn­ing of the reo.

Part of her cam­paign is en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to add value to Mata­mata, ‘‘our place’’.

Although Aoake claims to not hav­ing an agenda, she just wants to use the knowl­edge and the abil­i­ties she has gained through­out her ca­reer to make a pos­i­tive im­pact on the com­mu­nity she has grown up in.

‘‘I’m here, how can I help with the skills that I have?’’

Joanne Aoake, with fam­ily mem­bers Ti­matanga Baigent, Terere Aoake, Te Koha Aoake and Eu­nice Smith nee Aoake.

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